But for many international consumers, especially those with no access to shops dedicated to African brands, it can often be hard to get their hands on designer garments from the continent.
As a result, more and more African designers are taking their lines to the web in a bid to reach out to a larger market. And while many are setting up their own websites, others rely on internet boutiques which have more experience navigating the online market.
One such store is My Asho — launched in June 2009, this UK-based web boutique carries the work of established and up-and-coming African designers, giving them a chance to showcase their creations to a wider audience.
Founder Dolapo Shobanjo says she started My Asho — taken from the Yoruba word “aso” which means cloth — when she realized that African designers were not getting the promotion they deserved.
“I contacted the top designers, I spoke to them and asked them about their struggle and how difficult it is for them,” says Shobanjo. “That’s really how it got started, so to create that credible infrastructure is to show the global demand for the products and that will kick start the productions.”
Today, My Asho stocks a variety of womenswear, children’s clothes and accessories from more than 30 African designers. Shobanjo says she is very careful when it comes to selecting new designers, making sure they have high professional standards.
My Asho brings Afro flavor to fashion market My Asho brings Afro flavor to fashion market
“We’re very happy to add new people in the site but we have to ensure that the designers we add are serious,” she says.
“There are a lot of people out there who claim to be African designers but it’s more like ‘oh, I have a tailor who can sew very well and who can copy items,’ so we have to distinguish between copy-cats and people doing this as a hobby. . .” -CNN