BLEND FWD is a pilot residency project by Afrodyssée that aims to create links between West African fashion designers and the Swiss business and creative scenes. The residency will take place from 20 to 28 August 2021 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and bring together five fashion/jewellery designers from Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Switzerland under the mentorship of five experts from Switzerland and West Africa for an intensive programme of workshops and masterclasses to share knowledge and industry expertise. The aim of the residency is to provide the designers with the skills and toolset needed to develop their brands to international fashion and design industry standards.
During the residency the designers will develop prototypes in the form of co-creations and collaborations. Two of these will be selected to be produced as a limited-edition collection that will be launched in Geneva, Switzerland in June 2022 during the 6th edition of Afrodyssée – International Trends Market, and exhibited in galleries and pop-up stores in Zurich, Basel and Lausanne and on the continent in Ivory Coast and Nigeria. A digital portfolio will be created outlining the residency process and including testimonies from the designers and coaches. This will accompany the prototypes where they are exhibited to contextualise the AFRO BLEND project as well as serve as a resource for other designers.
Omafume Niemogha | Pepper Row [Nigeria]
Pepper Row is a neo-luxury ready-to-wear brand founded by Omafume Niemogha in 2018. The brand’s ethos merges Africa’s rich cultural heritage with contemporary sophisticated designs characterised by colour, texture, form, artisanal craftsmanship, quality and ethically sustainable production processes that are consciously considerate of people and the environment.
Chukwuma Ian Audifferen | Tzar Studios [Nigeria]
Founded by Chukwuma Ian Audifferen in 2014, Tzar Studios is a Lagos-based ready-to-wear label that focuses on comfort and functionality through modern construction and sharp silhouettes. Originally a menswear shirt label featuring androgynous pieces, Tzar Studios introduced womenswear in 2018. Today, the label has a minimalist aesthetic.
Aristide Loua | Kente Gentlemen [Ivory Coast]
Established in 2017 by Aristide Loua, Kente Gentlemen takes its name from the iconic Kente cloth. The label foregrounds precise tailoring, bold colours and contemporary design. The brand ethos pays homage to the rich textile heritage and local craftsmanship of the African continent.
Kader Diaby | OLOOH Concept [Ivory Coast]
OLOOH is a unisex fashion brand founded in 2018 by Ivorian photographer Kader Diably. The brand draws inspiration from Malinké culture and combines the relaxed and elegant silhouettes of traditional garments with contemporary functionality. OLOOH tells the story of a 21st century Abidjan and uses organic material adapted to the climate.
Aïcha Ladi | Dear Katiopae [Switzerland]
Dear Katiopae is a brand of “afro-minimalist” jewellery created by the Swiss designer Aïcha Ladi. She draws inspiration from the heritage and know-how of many African cultures. As a committed entrepreneur, Aïcha Ladi produces her creations herself or in collaboration with Ghanaian, Ivorian or Kenyan craftsmen.
Candace Nkoth Bisseck(Switzerland)
Candace Nkoth Bisseck has built her career at the intersection of entrepreneurship, digital economy and capacity building as development tools. Since October 2020, she has been leading Innoa Consulting, a Geneva-based firm whose services enable organisations to positively impact the development of their employees, communities and beneficiaries through capacity building, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Mélanie Hanimann (Switzerland)
Melanie Hanimann founded her eponymous fashion agency for African designers in 2018. HANIMANNS is built on Melanie’s long-term experience in the retail fashion industry, and exports products from the continent to Europe and the rest of the world.
Aboubakar Fofana (Mali)
Aboubakar Fofana is a multidisciplinary artist and designer whose working mediums include calligraphy, textiles and natural dyes. He is known for his work in reinvigorating and redefining West African indigo dyeing techniques, and much of his focus is devoted to the preservation and reinterpretation of traditional West African textile and natural dyeing techniques and materials.
NKWO Onwuka (Nigeria)
NKWO is an artisanal brand at the forefront of the sustainable fashion movement in Nigeria with the conservation of natural resources and the environment as the label’s core values. The brand’s main focus is textile waste reduction, creating artisanal and limited edition pieces from up-cycled denim, made in Nigeria cotton, end-of-line fabrics and cutting table waste. This focus on waste reduction has also led to the invention of a ‘new African fabric’ called DAKALA CLOTH.
Nabou Fall (Ivory Coast)
Nabou Fall is an entrepreneur and public speaker focusing on topics such as youth and women’s entrepreneurship as well as leadership, marketing, communication and innovation. She is heads an incubator platform for young start-ups called Impact Hub Abidjan.
Afrodyséee is a non-profit association founded in 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland to promote African fashion, art and design within the Swiss and international cultural scene with a distinct aesthetic and ethical vision. This is done through the annual Afrodyssée trade show which invites some forty African designers to Geneva to showcase their work to several thousand visitors.