The queens of African fashion

Joelle Diderich

Paris With an ever-expanding middle class, Africa holds untapped potential for luxury brands. But who are the influencers who move the needle on the continent and beyond?

Nowadays, global brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada and Hermès compete with a growing number of local brands, as designers like Rich Mnisi, Kenneth Ize, Hanifa and Thebe Magugu tap into the growing demand for African-made fashion.

To be successful, Western brands must harness the power of local influencers, ranging from Nigerian movie stars nicknamed Nollywood, to TV presenters, singers and influencers, tech company Heuritech said in a webinar titled “Discover the Scene of African fashion “.

“African fashion storytelling cannot be done without African creatives,” said Amélie Rotsen, fashion analyst at Heuritech, which offers brands to predict fashion trends using artificial intelligence to translate images shared on social networks as market information.

“People are now very quick to call a brand for cultural appropriation, so stop any narration based on western imagery and really try to call on these creatives to create stories that will showcase their culture, as they know it. do, “she added.

Total private wealth held in Africa is expected to increase by 30% over the next 10 years, reaching $ 2.6 trillion by 2030, according to the “Africa Wealth Report 2021” published by AfrAsia Bank. South Africa is home to Africa’s largest luxury market in terms of income, followed by Kenya and Morocco, he said.

Bank expects Ethiopia, Mauritius, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda to be Africa’s best performing wealth markets over the next decade, with growth rates above 60% . Strong growth is also expected in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia.

“To enter the African market, it is very important for international brands to really understand the specificity of the markets and to have teams directly in the field. This is especially true for influencer communication, ”said Jenna McFeely, fashion curator and trend analyst at Heuritech.

“Choosing the right brand ambassador requires foreign brands to do exhaustive research of the market, as well as influential people in a particular country or field. And finally, it is important to consider the weight of the diaspora, ”she added.

“As a result of colonization, people of African descent are present all over the world with their hearts and their wallets between the Western world and their roots, and this desire to consume black (owned brands) has been reinforced” , she said, noting the power of American beauty influencers like Jackie Aina and Nyma Tang.

Among the top African influencers she listed were Nigerian actresses Adesua Etomi and Genevieve Nnaji, who have 4.3 million and 8.2 million Instagram followers, respectively.

Nigeria has also produced big-name music stars such as Burna Boy and Wizkid, who posted a message on Instagram last week saying their concert at London’s O2 Arena, scheduled for November 28, was sold out by 12 minutes.

“While the link between cinema, music and fashion no longer needs to be proven, the global audience and the avant-garde style of these artists make them ideal representatives for African and international designers who hope to attract ambitious or newbie consumers, ”said McFeely. .

Popular television personalities include Bonang Matheba, known for her slogan “Champagne, honey!”, Who has launched a number of fashion lines and her own sparkling wine brand, House of BNG, in addition to starring in the reality TV show “Being Bonang.”

Quoting Nigerian public relations firm Redrick, McFeely recommended that brands targeting luxury consumers rely on wealthy people like Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who inspired Maria Grazia Chiuri’s first collection for Dior with his essay “We should all be feminists”.

“There is also the influencer market with women entrepreneurs and travel enthusiasts like Boity Thulo, who showcases the lavish side of Africa, which is ambitious to say the least,” McFeely added.

“And finally, there’s the promise of Afro cyber influencers that could be a fun new outlet, given the success of Lil Miquela, who is another virtual influencer,” she said, citing the example. of the digital model Ivaany.

In parallel, WWD asked research and data analytics firm Launchmetrics to compile data on the top five African influencers ranked by Media Impact Value, or MIV. The measure, based on a proprietary algorithm, estimates the value of social media and media coverage.

Mihlali Ndamase (@mihlalii_n): 1.4 million Instagram followers, 59% of South Africa’s engaged audience

The makeup artist and content creator, also known as Mihlali N, bills herself as South Africa’s biggest beauty YouTuber with 345,000 subscribers.

She recently generated US $ 143,000 in MIV for a position with Fashion Nova, US $ 112,000 for a position with Revlon and US $ 80,000 for a position with Dior makeup.

Featured on Forbes Africa’s “30 Under 30” list this year, Ndamase has expanded into luxury and lifestyle content, through paid partnerships with hotels like Radisson and Protea Hotels by Marriott.

Temiloluwa Otedola (@temiotedola): 1.2 million Instagram followers, 54% of Nigeria’s engaged audience

The daughter of Femi Otedola, a Nigerian billionaire active in industries such as energy, and younger sister of music star DJ Cuppy, Temi Otedola established her presence with the launch in 2014 of a blog covering the areas of fashion, travel and a book club.

His Instagram post on Etro’s Forte dei Marmi pop-up in June generated US $ 113,000 in MIV, while a post with Farfetch in 2020 was worth US $ 68,000, reflecting his growth in subscribers.

Otedola made her acting debut last year as the female protagonist in Nigerian director Kunle Afolayan’s “Quote”, the story of a college student who accuses a professor of sexual harassment, which is available to stream at Netflix.

Kefilwe Mabote (@kefilwe_mabote): 1.2 million followers on Instagram, 56% of the engaged audience in South Africa

Born in Johannesburg’s Soweto township, Mabote last year published her autobiography “Kefilwe Mabote: Influencer De Luxe – From Soweto to Milan”, which also serves as a guide to becoming an influencer.

Known for her glamorous style, she generated US $ 49,000 in MIV for a position with Ugg in May, but can usually be seen in high-end designer clothes like Burberry, Tom Ford and Versace. She even has a dedicated website,, to sell her clothes.

Mabote’s personal life grabbed the headlines last year when her then-boyfriend, businessman Edwin Sodi, was embroiled in a corruption scandal. She subsequently lost a libel lawsuit against the weekly tabloid Sunday World.

Lesego Legobane (@thickleeyonce): 765,000 Instagram followers, 66% of South Africa’s engaged audience

Photographer, plus-size model and body positivity activist Legobane – known professionally as Thickleeyonce – also has her own online clothing store, Leebex.

A recent article with Fashion Nova Curve generated US $ 39,000 in MIV; another with Bombay Sapphire was worth US $ 63,000, and a third for Beyoncé’s Ivy Park collection with Adidas generated US $ 50,000.

Legobane revealed last year that she was selected as an influencer for Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty lingerie line, but last week she called the brand on Twitter for not offering any pay. The tweet was later taken down, but she posted a separate post that said, “Pay influencers. Creating content is work.

Sarah Langa (@sarahlanga), 579,000 Instagram followers, 61% of South African engaged audience

A close friend of fellow influencer Kefilwe Mabote, Langa landed her first paid job with South African department store chain Woolworths in 2015. She has often countered criticism from enemies by highlighting her academic achievements, which she lists in her biography. Instagram.

Langa works with a variety of brands, including hairdressing device company GHD and cellphone maker Samsung. She generated US $ 31,000 in MIV for a recent article with online fast-fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing; US $ 26,000 with Nespresso and US $ 16,000 with Patrón Tequila. One of her most recent Instagram posts shows her unpacking a Hermès Birkin handbag as part of a promotion for the luxury goods sourcing department Aquarius Luxury Concierge. WWD

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