The exhibition Flow of Forms / Forms of Flow focuses on Design Histories between Africa and Europe through the prism of past, present and future: how did Africa influence design in European Modernism, what impacts did the European reform movements have on the African continent? What forms have social emancipation and the optimistic spirit of change taken?
On the 12th of July 2018, at the Museum am Rothenbaum Hamburg, Africa’s renowned, fashion giants discussed the politics of African fashion – relevance of visual culture, copyrights and cultural appropriation in a globalized world. The discussion was facilitated and moderated by the Founder of Fashion Africa Now, Beatrace Angut Oola, in collaboration with Museum am Rothenbaum Hamburg.
This was lured in by the case of copyright infringement from the most blatant rip-off that came from a high street brand like Zara doing a Maxhosa by Laduma’s indigenous sock design.
This remains fashion’s most uncomfortable conversation that is avoided by many but is supported and donned by masses in the fashion and beyond the industry! Some of the world’s greatest designers have also been copy-cats or downright design knockouts to fulfill industry needs. The unspoken reality is how multitudes benefit from this form of trade and how brand owners lose track and command of revenue in the millions of dollars from what is their intellectual property. Copying a design or its copyright-protected design and creating identical or substantially similar prints for own benefit demands austere yet kind reflections. Austere in the sense of ethics in business and kindness with regards to levels of income and the common innate desire to look contemporary and chic.
The panelist that lead some parts of this fashion politics discussions included Africa’s most esteemed fashion opinion leaders: Mimi Plange, Fashion Designer from (Ghana-Accra /New York), the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief of the South-African Glamour, Asanda Sizani (Johannesburg), Omoyemi Akerele, the Founder of Lagos Fashion Week, (Lagos), Ola Shobowale, Creative Director and Brand Consultant of Infinite Beauty Factory (Nigeria-Lagos/ London).
The fashion soiree offered a change of perspective: focusing on the mobility of people, objects, and ideas on flows between Africa and Europe – which allows for multiple yet necessarily fragmented design histories to be identified and recognized. The contributors trace multifaceted design case studies from a historical perspective, with attention to the present as well as toward possible futures.
African fashion is culture in design that needs to be respected and adhered to, including it’s business sphere. This is a much needed conversation that needs to continue happening, and from the leaders of African fashion perspective!
A huge congratulations and a pat on the back to Beatrace Oola for bringing in a unique authority voices of the young, urban African fashion and diaspora perspectives together in collaboration with Museum am Rothenbaum Hamburg for the much needed conversations. Check out some of the full inset about the Fashion Soiree Museum talk at Fashion Africa Now
Facilitation and Moderation: Beatrace Angut Oola, Fashion Africa Now
Location: Museum für Völkerkunde | Rotherbaumchaussee 64 | 20148 Hamburg
Photos / Fotos: © Mimi Plange & Christina Leitow