About two years ago I learned about Ankara Miami - a South Florida-based event planning company committed to “Redefining African Cultural Trends” - and I immediately decided that I would attend its African Fashion Week that’s held every February.
As life would have it all sorts of things (distractions) popped up that prevented me from attending. But as me and my husband position ourselves to open the Black Food Bookstore & Culture Shop retail store this year I knew we had to make it a priority. So by summer of last year we came to the conclusion that we were headed to African Fashion Week 2019 come hell or high water and it was all I could talk about. Every day it was, “when I go to African Fashion Week this or that.”
On a more serious note, though, I was eager to see the latest African trends, meet designers and other creatives, and network within the industry so that I could improve our product offerings and continue to bring the best of Africa and the African Diaspora to the Bahamian market.
The first African Fashion Week event we attended was a panel discussion on Friday evening entitled, “Diaspora Fashion Talk & Mixer” hosted by Evelyn Onejuruwa, Founder of Ankara Miami. The panelists included Yetunde Shorters; a Public Relations expert, Dionne R. Dean; Faculty from the Fashion School of a leading university, Simone Hylton; a Natural Hair Salon Owner, and Isoken Enofe-Asemota; a Fashion Designer.
This group of dynamic African women all brought their unique perspective to the discussion about the influence of African culture on mainstream fashion and beauty to the delight of the small gathering of women and men who filled the room. There was a lively discussion on black culture, fashion, and politics and it was undeniable that everyone who participated had a deep love for our Africa and our people. I left the event energized and looking forward to the fashion show the next day.
The African Fashion Show – held at Florida International University – didn’t disappoint. The night kicked off with a drumming performance and also included a live art display. Eight designers poured out all their talent and ingenuity on the runway giving us the latest in avant-garde swimwear to custom-made clothing and accessories infused with African-influence and a classic flair.
The models were fierce, the host for the evening, Marcellus “Chello” Davis, kept us laughing, and the audience gave nothing but love to the aesthetic of each designer. Outside the conference room where the fashion show was held, vendors sold their African/cultural products and a photo booth was set up so that attendees could capture the night.
On the final day of African Fashion Week, a much anticipated Pop-Up of African clothing and accessories, fresh off the runway, was held.
The trip was definitely worth it and we look forward to African Fashion Week 2020. In the meantime, we are working on expanding our product offerings and will have select pieces from the featured designers, and other creatives, we met in stock later this year to coincide with the grand opening of the Black Food Bookstore & Culture Shop retail store.