This Site Gives Independent African Designers a Global Platform

Industrie Africa leverages technology to connect designers on the continent with luxury style lovers around the world.

When Tanzanian curator and storyteller Nisha Kanabar founded Industrie Africa, her mission was to challenge misconceptions about her homeland and introduce consumers to African high fashion. Since 2018, the online store has made it possible to shop the best designs from across the continent, like sculptural swimsuits from Nigerian label Andrea Iyamah and artful resort wear from Tanzanian designer Doreen Mashika.

Designs from KikoRomeo and Doreen Mashika, available from Industrie Africa
From left: dresses by Doreen Mashika, from $200; KikoRomeo’s Blinky jumpsuit, $345. Courtesy of Industrie Africa

But beyond creating an e-commerce site, Kanabar also wanted to provide education for shoppers and exposure for designers. That's why Industrie launched IA Connect — a platform that includes a comprehensive designer index with in-depth spotlights on more than 80 emerging and established fashion figures. These include Nigerian textile artist Lisa Folawiyo, South African designer Lukhanyo Mdingi, and Kenyan jeweler and silversmith Ami Doshi Shah; each page has a detailed overview of the creator and their brand, along with look books, contact info, accolades, and press coverage.

Coat dress by Lisa Folawiyo, earrings by Ami Doshi Shah, Tongoro Folo set, Loza Maleombho Koh sandals, Khokho Collection Lindi minaudière bag
Clockwise from left: Lisa Folawiyo pleated coatdress, $1,080; Dapple earrings by Ami Doshi Shah, $275; Tongoro Folo set, exclusive to Industrie Africa, $240; made-to-order Loza Maleombho Koh sandals, $135; Khokho Collection Lindi minaudière bag, $385. Courtesy of Industrie Africa

In addition, IA Connect features the first-ever African Fashion Calendar, a lineup of the most important industry events on the continent and beyond, from the Lagos Leather Fair to Kampala Fashion Week.

"IA Connect will be an authoritative resource, taking what we're already doing and going a step further, digging a little deeper," Kanabar says. "Industry insiders are finally able to navigate the African fashion landscape in an intuitive, professionalized way. And locally, we're able to support the next generation of talent."

A version of this story first appeared in the July 2021 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline The World of Fashion Is Getting Wider.

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