African Fashion Week, hosted by African Fashion and Arts Movement Vancouver, kicked off on Feb. 19 showcasing much more than fashion, with vendors with handmade goods, food, featured performers, and music.
Attendees mingled amongst themselves and a sense of community was built throughout the space, which was something Yao Zeus Mohammed, founder and producer of AFAM, had hoped for.
“The importance of African Fashion Week to me is that it brings the community together, and it showcases the great talents we have in our community,” says Mohammed.
This is the fifth year that African Fashion Week has been hosted, however, last year AFAM could not host the event due to the COVID-19 restrictions. With restrictions eased, they were willing to host it this year even if it meant having only a quarter of the venue capacity.
During the intermission, attendees could buy finger food, Ghanaian jollof rice, pastries, meat, and vegetarian food options made by caterer Delali Adiamah.
“These are foods that you find at a party. So when you go to a wedding, when you go to a funeral … in Africa in Ghana, these are where you will find such food,” says Adiamah.
“[AFAM] brings the community together and showcases the great talents we have, and not only that, but it also shows the world we have a vibrant group of people working together on this west coast and it attracts others to come here and mingle with us,” says Mohammed.
The event showcased great talents by giving them space to share their story.
“We are not the only ones in this community, so you need that niche that you can really market your product to that they are interested in. That’s why it’s important not only to me, but to the people involved,” says Mohammed.
Hana Woldeyes, is the designer for BeadedBody. Woldeyes designs were showcased in the show as the spring collection. Most of the pieces were made from glass, wood, and rock. This year was her first time being invited to the show.
“I used to make my own jewelry. So, I made bracelet beads, necklaces, and amulets for myself, but more people kept asking me about where I got them. So, I started making them for individuals … [then] I started taking it as a business,” says Woldeyes.
Jason Bempong, the fashion designer behind clothing company Sleepless Mindz, was also invited to showcase his work during the event.
“For this particular collection, I’m really inspired by 1980s 1990s NASCAR jackets, a lot of Jeff Gordon pieces … [and] old varsity Disney Looney Tune jackets as well,” says Bempong.
Other designers like Mawogan Fashion, Navoir, Vickendel Style, Rated 18, V12 Fashion Designer, Kabumbe Fashion, and Rita Mary came together to create a fantastic show, with beautiful models walking the runway and performers dancing or singing between a few designs.
“Everyone should just keep following their dreams, even when people tell you ‘no,’ even when people tell you it’s ridiculous,” Bempong says.
“You’ve got to keep that vision alive and never give up.”