Highs and Lows of AFI Cape Town Fashion Week

The AFI  Cape Town Fashion Week  2018 was abuzz with the who’s who in the fashion industry. The event was a mix of masterclasses, runway shows, pop-up shops and most importantly, culture.

Unlike Paris Fashion Week, Lagos Fashion Week or SA Fashion week to name a few, Africa Fashion International (AFI) celebrates and recognises talent in fashion from the African continent.

This year’s theme, #IamAfrica really captured the essence of the show. The schedule included fashion designers from various African countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, DRC, Ghana, Senegal and Morocco.

The price of a ticket ranged from R200 to R250 for adults and R150 for students. I purchased a ticket for the masterclasses on 22 March and the Ituen Basi runway show which was held on the last day,  24 March. By some stroke of luck, I got last minute media accreditation to watch the rest of the shows for free.

Here are my highlights of AFI Cape Town Fashion Week:
  1. Masterclass

A masterclass is a talk given by an expert in a particular field- fashion in this case. Because I paid for the ticket, I was determined to get my money’s worth by sitting through all the sessions. The masterclasses took place at the Ritz hotel in Sea Point, Cape Town on Thursday, 22 March. You can see the full schedule here.

I didn’t get to stay for all the masterclasses as I originally intended. I lost interest after the first session which was about the Business of Fashion.

SA fashion designer, David Tlale, one of the two speakers on the topic was a pretty tough act to precede and or follow. Tlale spoke on building a niche brand in fashion while retail consultant, Alex Harris spoke about building a commercial range.

The topics of discussion were tailored towards budding fashion designers – pun intended.  Something I was not aware of until the day of the show.

As a result, most of what Alex Harris said went in one ear and came out the other but David Tlale completely had my attention.

He has an undeniable presence about him. He engaged, entertained and interacted with the audience. He came off condescending but none of that mattered. He said what he had to say and everyone listened whether you liked him or not, he just could not be ignored.

Here’s what I learnt
  • The fashion design industry is hard work and a tough business.
  • There’s a lot that goes into a designer’s final collection than the consumers realise.
  • David Tlale is sick of people calling themselves fashion designers when they can’t sketch or sew or understand the technicalities of fashion design.
  • David Tlale is passionate about the industry and would like to see a rise in the creation of jobs and to resuscitate the clothing and textile industry.

The gist of the talk is that you need to be committed and dedicated to be a fashion designer. Find your niche and be the best at it.

Some quotes from David Tlale

Some people are jack of all trades and master of none.

We all went to fashion school but not everyone is a designer

If no one is consuming your product, you’re not a brand.

Don’t take your brand as a side-chick, you have to live and breathe your brand


2. Runway shows

Tickets for the runway shows cost about R250 each and there was no way I was going to buy more than one ticket so I had to choose my show wisely. In the spirit of patriotism, I bought a ticket to the Ituen Basi show whom I am loathed to admit, I knew nothing about until the day of the show.

The show was not to start until 9 pm but I arrived a few hours early and managed to get some media passes for three of the shows.



Sarah Diouf’s collection was very African in comparison to David’s which was more international. From the music to the clothing worn by the models- African geometric prints. I saw Zebra and leopard patterns all made of soft, chiffon-like material.

David Tlale’s show is what I would describe as subtle glamour. There were some black sequin pieces and some clean, prim and elegant items.

This was a one-man show, a tribute to the memory of his sister, Laura. The collection is fun, flirty with disco vibes.  This was my least favourite of the collections only because I didn’t feel like there was anything I would want to wear from the collection. His show was a combination of collections for both men and women. The male models were the perfect eye-candy for the evening and left me drooling just a little.


Imprint’s collection was bold, fun and energetic in the way that it was portrayed.  His clothing is not particularly my style nor what I would wear but what his clothing represents made me want to make a purchase. His collection told a story and it was the one show that left a lasting impression.

Adama Paris’s collection was inspiring. Perhaps it was the theme song, or the captivating model in the ankle-length dark drown velour with a headwrap and silver accessory wrapped around her face.  This too was an unforgettable show.

She used a lot of velour like material in her collection which to me was feminine and classy.


Ituen Basi’s collection was Fela inspired. This was obvious by the choice of music, fabric design and makeup on the models’ faces. To describe her collection, I’d say ‘Afro-punk’. There were quite a few bright and bold colours and she used Aso-oke in a few of the pieces in the collection.

I love Khosi Nkosi but I didn’t get to see her collection. The shows ran late and after I saw the Ituen Basi collection, I knew it was time to call it a day.

I enjoyed all the shows, particularly Imprint and Adama Paris.

The lows of AFI Cape Town Fashion Week?

There were many highs but thankfully few lows. It was a well-curated event.

However, the toilets left a lot to be desired. At fashion shows, people endeavour to look their best and it’s inevitable that you’d want to go to the bathroom to freshen up or even to take a selfie. As such, I think the toilets should reflect the environment.

Another low for me was the lack of food. Thankfully I was given a media pass which meant I got to drink and nibble on some delicious treats but I don’t think I would have had anything to eat otherwise. A food court would have been a welcome sight. As much as I appreciated the luxuries afforded me thanks to the media pass, I couldn’t help but think how miserable it would have been had I not had access to food and drinks at the media lounge.

That said, I am glad I attended the AFI CT Fashion Week. It was great to see so many amazing African designers under one roof.  Special thanks to the  AFI team for their generosity and hosting.

Looking forward to what I imagine would be a bigger and better show next year. For information on the AFI Cape Town Fashion Week, visit https://africanfashioninternational.com/.



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