A lot of brands love to talk about how they are committed to representing the culture, but for the team at Africana Couture, it’s more than a vision statement: it’s a lifestyle, a calling, a driving force.
Charles Oronsaye, lawyer and fashion designer, launched the brand in 2011, primarily looking to churn out fabric that elevated the male wardrobe, and get Kaftan and Agbada to go become the mainstay as far as male fashion was concerned. In his opinion, suits and ties were offshoots of colonialism and had no business taking precedence over traditional African attire when it came to wardrobe choices.
One decade down the line, the brand’s vision has expanded way beyond putting African fabric on the map; Africana Couture has taken things up a notch, and these days it dedicates itself to telling unique African stories through its state-of-the-art collections. For the team, it’s beyond (re)defining male fashion; it’s using fabric to illustrate the beauty of Africa the same way the continent’s cuisines, music, and film attempt (successfully) to do.
Africana Couture’s journey to creating a brand that is wholly Afrocentric has been hinged on the desire to beam the spotlight on African culture, and at the same time design an ecosystem that places a premium on indigenous print and fabric. From a few hundred Instagram followers in 2013, the brand has made a huge impression on the expansive landscape that is African storytelling, amidst ventures into blockchain technology and collaborations with leading fashion brands like Mad Ape Designs. It has also succeeded in creating the first ever African measurement template: for decades, male fashion in Africa has been wholly dependent on dimensions prescribed by the fashion industry in the West, with little consideration for those factors that are uniquely African, but the brand is looking to change that, tape by tape.
In terms of its ethos, Africana Couture swears by innovation, adaptability, premium quality, and client satisfaction. From offices in Lagos to conference halls in Dakar, from lounges in Abuja to sidewalks in Bamako, the brand is committed to propagating the gospel that is bespoke fashion and branding. In just about ten years, Charles Oronsaye and his 150-man strong army of mavericks have earned the trust of fashion enthusiasts across the West African sub-region.
Africana Couture started out by building a niche clientele, but in recent years the brand has made a few retail-oriented adjustments, with a view to increasing brand accessibility. The desire for inclusivity is what birthed Africana Xperience, a sub-brand that has succeeded in churning out the first ready-to-wear Kaftan store in Africa. Africana Xperience also caters to newer audiences with the production of T-shirts, pants, dress shirts, leather bags, sneakers, wallets, and scarves, while maintaining the same level of quality and unique customer experience associated with the parent brand.
Africana Couture thrives on consistency, and it has the numbers to show for it. The brand has grown over $500k in revenue for a period of five consecutive years. It has also infiltrated other African and European markets as evidenced by its global growth report, which is a 10% growth rate each year for the last 4 years.
In telling the African story, the brand has taken the decision to shed significant light on a few of the continent’s challenges, including infrastructure, healthcare systems, and the environment. Africana Couture believes that in actualising the dream of a better Africa, good intentions are not enough, which is why it has delved into the production of safe water. Africana H2O, a premium brand of bottled water available in a handful of locations across the continent, exists to reiterate the importance of access to potable drinking water.
There are also plans to take up real estate, which will feature next-level architectural designs. Africana Smart HQ, set to formally launch soon, is a real estate initiative that thrives on environmental sustainability, and will feature art and architecture elements that provide a new shopping experience for all fashion lovers in Nigeria.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, Africana Couture has taken a huge leap, deciding to unveil a retail store expansion in Abidjan, the capital city of Ivory Coast. It has also launched a campaign tagged “Everyone Is Invited”, which is set to feature a collection of unique African prints that provide new perspectives to the continent’s use of fabric in celebrating art and symbolism.