Fashion, News

VOGUE Africa? No. Thank you Very Much I’ll Pass!

If I have to read or hear one more person or group call for a VOGUE Africa, I will scream! I am irritated and annoyed with the seemingly inferiority complex that seems so innate among many Africans. Read my writing: Africa DOES NOT NEED A VOGUE AFRICA! Even VOGUE knows this.

Paris based Cameroonian Photograper Mario Epanya created brilliant covers of a fictional VOGUE Africa. On April 21st, 2010 popular fashion blogger Claire of the Fashion Bomb posted Epanya’s images and referenced blogger Racialicious’s 2008 initial Coverage and question whether “ [T]here Ever Be A Vogue Africa?” Claire also referenced a VOGUE Africa Group also started about the same time by Africans.

A discussion ensued on Claire’s blog and soon after, even more bloggers in “blogsville” are now asking the above question, stirring even more debate.

Back in 2008 and now, in reading many of these entries and responses, it struck and still strikes me how enthusiastic some Africans feel about a VOGUE Africa. Why the continued need for validation by the West, even though Africans vehemently deny they need this Western media validation?

“Does Africa Need a VOGUE Africa? The answer is a resounding “NO!”

VOGUE Does Not Need to Validate Africa Before Africa Becomes Fashionable

It is amazing to me how many Africans now insist on “telling (their) own stories,” yet they feel an innate need for continued validation from the West. Why? The need for validation, in my view, is worse in the African fashion space. In my experience, prior to and after starting Ladybrille Magazine, African designers have traveled far and wide from the continent spending monies they frankly don’t have, just so the Western media can say “your work is worthy of recognition. You are a worthy designer.”

Indeed, when some of these designers become aware a Western media or blogger, regardless of the quality, has mentioned them, even in passing, they act like they were featured in the VOGUE Italian “Special” Black Issue; and ignore the African publications who have regularly featured them, overtime.

As I have asked and still ask again, when the applause is over, what next? The “next” for these designers usually means there is nothing to show for. There are no orders, no capital to produce the orders and no supply chain logistics ready to meet demand, if and when the Western retailers come knocking. For the few who finally grow out of their need for western validation, they return to Africa and focus on growing their brands locally till they can get to a point where they can compete internationally.

The Internet has Created an African Fashion Media Revolution, So Why the Continued Need for Validation with a VOGUE Africa?

From the streets of Africa to African design icons such as Alphadi, Chochou Lazare, Chris Seydou, Colle Sow Ado, Juliette Ombang, Oumou Sy, Pepita D, Kofi Ansah and Xuly Bet, Africa has always been and will remain fashionable.

Until 2006, there was a big silence on the web space when it came to Africans sharing their spectacular fashions with the West and the world. 2006 began the birth of an African fashion media revolution to put African fashion on the global map. This push was led primarily by African fashion bloggers/publishers Annansi Chronicles (Ghana/USA), Ifashion (South Africa), Bella Naija (Nigeria/Canada), Ladybrille (Nigeria/USA) and Cos We Are African (Senegal/USA).

Almost daily, these bloggers/site(s) rigorously researched, shared, maintained and marketed contemporary stories of African fashions and people in the webspace, even when no one believed. Fast forward to 2010, many, especially the West, have caught what I call the “African fashion fever.” In addition, some of the above brands and the personalities behind them are now recognized in mainstream Western and African media.

Further, even more African fashion and lifestyle focused brands have emerged including Arise and Canoe Magazines offering both Western and African fashion consumers more options. Nevertheless, many Africans and African designers still feel the need for Western validation via VOGUE Africa and similar Western fashion brands, rather than wholeheartedly supporting their own with their pocket book and patronage.

There has to be a total reprogramming and some sort of confidence building when it comes to how Africans view themselves.

VOGUE Africa is Bad Business For Africa

Beyond the fact that Africa needs no validation from Vogue, VOGUE Africa is bad business for the continent. VOGUE Africa as the name implies, means it technically should target Africans in Africa and have its pages reflect Africa. However, if it did, it is essentially doing the same thing that other high end African fashion magazines are doing; and would effectively put them out of business.

African customers will buy VOGUE Africa, despite an African renaissance, before they do their own. It is the reality and psyche of Africans and sadly is what it is. Ultimately, and this is no slippery slope, African publishing businesses in the continent will be forced out of business.

With infrastructure issues, especially power supply, can African publishers truly compete with VOGUE who most likely will produce VOGUE Africa outside the continent and ship into the continent?

VOGUE Africa Will Not Eliminate Racism in VOGUE’s Fashion Pages

Like its VOGUE counterparts in other parts of the world, the argument will remain the need for more “local/black” models in the pages of VOGUE. Indeed we need not look too far than what I will call Exhibit A to see the current practices of Western magazines retailed in Africa.

Exhibit A: In South Africa where most of these magazines are present, they are notorious for using predominantly white models, even in Africa! Supermodel Oluchi complained about it back in 2008. GQ, Cosmopolitan, Elle and the list goes on favor use of white international models rather than their local ones. Why would VOGUE Africa be any different?

VOGUE Africa Defeats the Very Purpose of African Designers Wanting to Reach a Wider Western Mainstream Audience.

I have always valued and enjoy diversity in people and culture immensely, even as a child living in Nigeria. While the continent of Africa is richly diverse and a VOGUE Africa magazine would arguably reflect that, at the end of the day, African fashion would still be confined to the continent. My EXHIBIT B are the BET, MTV, America’s Next Top Model (ANTM), American Idol franchise and numerous Western multinationals present in Africa.

These companies market Western products, with the same format, to Africans in Africa. In fact, many times, contractual agreements with Africans who purchase these franchises make clear that they are not to cross market or promote the African version in the Western market. Marketing and promotions is limited to the continent. So, while a model might win Africa’s Next Top Model she will not be and should not be on the USA red carpets for ANTM because there would be a conflict and competition with the winner of ANTM.

VOGUE Africa is no different. Marketing and promotions for African designers in Africa stays in Africa and does not extend to the USA. So why VOGUE Africa?


At the end of the day, Africans know their own stories. They are now eager to share it with the West. Sharing their stories with the West necessarily means a VOGUE Africa makes no sense for Africa, especially its fashion design community, because the customers they seek to reach will not buy VOGUE Africa they will buy American VOGUE; the fashion bible, the true place African designers wants to feature in. The true platform, in their view, that allows their designs to be shown to a massive Western audience, many of whom are in the dark when it comes to Africa.

VOGUE Africa? No, Thank you Very Much. I’ll Pass!

~ Article by Uduak Oduok


Ladybrille Magazine

Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.

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  1. Why should we have a Western import covering our fashion sense, when we have the brains and talents to do so?! That doesn’t even begin to make any sense!

  2. I absolutely agree! Vogue has been around a long time. I'm more interested in seeing something fresh and new – coming out of Africa. For how long will African fashion continue ''walking'' in shadows?

  3. Yvie says:

    I completely agree, vogue Africa is not needed. There is so much talent, beauty and magnificence from our great continent. There is no need for us to join other band wagons but if we choose, to start something completely different. We are people with ingenuity which others should follow and we should not subdue what we have in order to conform.

  4. […] is asking “Does Africa really Need a VOGUE Africa?” […]

  5. […] du Jour spots Halle Berry toting the Gustto ‘Falcha’ Shoulder Bag. is asking “Does Africa really Need a VOGUE Africa?” RedPoppy Fashion is in love with L.A.M.B.’s Roderick Casual High Heel Shoe from DNA Footwear! […]

  6. Angel says:

    NO WAY! We aint nid no vogue africa mag or woteva!

  7. […] is asking “Does Africa really Need a VOGUE Africa?” […]

  8. […] Halle Berry toting the Gustto ‘Falcha’ Shoulder Bag. is asking “Does Africa really Need a VOGUE Africa?” RedPoppy Fashion is in love with L.A.M.B.’s Roderick Casual High Heel Shoe from DNA […]

  9. […] Halle Berry toting the Gustto ‘Falcha’ Shoulder Bag. is asking “Does Africa really Need a VOGUE Africa?” RedPoppy Fashion is in love with L.A.M.B.’s Roderick Casual High Heel Shoe from DNA […]

  10. […] is asking “Does Africa really Need a VOGUE Africa?” […]

  11. […] is asking “Does Africa really Need a VOGUE Africa?” […]

  12. […] seems the theres is a hot fire debate among the diasporans on whether Africa should focus on building its own, or if the continent should […]

  13. Uduak, here's the article that appeared on the Vogue Italia's site recently:

    After reading the article, my next question is now what? Will this help Mario's career any? Mario is a very talented make-up artist and photographer who I'm sure his career will expand even more just by word of mouth alone.

    So many women look for validation from outside sources and that's a shame when it's the individual who is responsible for this characteristic. Some people claim there is diversity in the mainstream fashion magazines, when in fact it's not.

    We've got the African designers who I have yet to see their clothing brands appear in the stores, but I hear of the brand Suno and others being picked up by Barney's New York and other high-end stores. Yes Suno is helping the women of Kenya, but who really is getting the bulk of the profits? There are a lot of micro-financed designer brands that have these commune type work-shops for the women in many African countries which serve to help these women. If you are charging thousands of dollars for a garment, are these women raking in at least 40% percent of the profit?

    Dries Van Noten has a collection which the designer calls tribal(whatever that is)costing hundreds to thousands of dollars when people can have the real thing by buying real African made products.

    The best thing for these African designers to do is to sell on Etsy, have great customer service or open a reliable e-commerce site that takes Pay-Pal or some other reputable service to sell their clothing. I just received my order from Aya Morrison and her customer service was great, her products are well made and a woman couldn't be more happier when supporting my own.

  14. I applaud the research and thought that went into creating this post. Its an interesting debate and your point is very well backed up.

    I see where the proponents of Vogue Africa are coming from in that Vogue has established itself as the world's foremost fashion publication over the decades so its makes sense to want to be affiliated with what is considered as 'the best',

    However it comes back to the constant need for western endorsement.

    We can do it for ourselves!

    Yes a feature in Vogue is fab but lets treasure and value ours.

    Nice one Uduak

  15. You make some excellent points Uduak.

    I think Epanya's designs did well to open the door to a public debate about the merits of a Vogue Africa. We all know that for a long time the idea of a Vogue Africa has been many people's dream, but as you indicate above we have to wonder whether it's the right move for African fashion and media.

    There are many many African media and content creators – like Ladybrille – whose efforts are still being overlooked, because their success is judged by a Western perspectives. It'll do us Africans well to recognize and capitalize on what makes our own perspectives unique from other cultures.

  16. I get so tired of picking up a magazine in South Africa and it mostly has white/Eurocentric content. Why are these magazine editors plying us with people we dont really care for (ie white American celebrities) and even worse, trying to further build their already well-catered to careers as if any of those people care what South African Elle/Glamour etc think? Talk to one of these editors and they'll say "well South Africa doesnt really have a single identity, so that's why we use foreign covers." It just smacks of trying to make editorial decisions as if you're actually in New York, but you're actually in Africa, at the bottom of the continent, far from Europe, far from NYC. If there ever was a Vogue Africa, they better come correct. But as you say Uduak, we dont need some big company running roughshod over the ones that have gained the respect of Africans and are just now getting a good foothold. We want our OWN publications and our OWN faces and clothing to be represented.

  17. Pokou says:

    "African publishing businesses in the continent will be forced out of business"

    … or… it will force African publications to rise to higher standards.

    Interesting point though.

  18. I must say I do agree with you Uduak, we dont need any display in Vogue or a special Vogue to validate our talents. What our designers need right now is to get out of the endless "fashion show" ghettos & start doing business. They should start team up with marketers (africans) & set up distribution netwoks or sale events throughout the world to sell & make mOney. Let's not fool ourselves if our designers dont understand that their real challenge is to develop ready to wear line availaible on the market. Having worked closely with many African designers & being a big customers of Alhadi, Colle Sow, etc., I think its time for them to step up in the plate & concentrate on selling. It is always a challenge to get an outfit from any of them when you are in another african country…They contribute to our economies by giving work to hundreds of people but they lack adequate sales & marketing tools to get to tot the next level. Except Lamine Badian Kouyate (Xuly bêt) who has established worldwide distribution channel supported by a professional production unit.So lets not even mention that VOGUE & move forward.

  19. […] fictional Vogue Africa created by photographer and makeup artist Mario Epanya. His work has sparked tons of discussion, so I decided to get in touch to ask about his background and motivations for creating what has […]

  20. Netherland says:


  21. Netherland says:


  22. I initially supported the idea of a Vogue Africa on my blog – afroklectic. I think I was in a disillusioned state at the time. Uduak, you have surely brought me back to my senses and opened by eyes. Thank You!!

    Africa has a number of amazing publications flowing through the market. These publications are creating history – they are creating a new movement. A movement not defined by Vogue or the Western world, but a movement defined by our people! And we need to support it!

  23. You said it all co-sign 100%.

  24. […] Click here for Uduak Oduok’s full article entitled: VOGUE Africa? No. Thank you Very Much I’ll Pass! […]

  25. Kudos to you Uduak, for such an insightful post. Hopefuly, the African fashion space will pick the baton up and provide us with more thought provoking articles of this calibre that not only raises important questions but forces us to do bit more critical thinking on some of these issue. Great post!

  26. Thank you so much for this article!


    So many African publishers around the world have been a good job of promoting us African Designers!!!

    the western media think they are doing us a favor to even mention us in a line! And you are right about how some African designers create a picture frame of being mentioned in some western media, because like you said, the thing is WHAT NEXT?!!! being mentioned in even Vogue USA does NOT guarantee an order! Neither does it guarantee smiling to the bank or appreciation as a world talent!

    Vogue Africa would be another way for Vogue to milk African's inferiority complex!

    Our African press/media are doing well already and that is why the western press/media even knew the African Designers existed, because left to them, they WOULD NOT waste their time on an unknown African designer!

    I am very proud of African Designers using African fabrics and materials to create designs these days, and like I keep saying, AFRICA HAS SO MANY ENVIRONMENTAL-FRIENDLY FABRICS AND MATERIALS THAT THE WEST HAVE NOT EVEN SEEN!


    And I sure am tired of the western designers tagging their designs/collections 'Safari-inspired', 'African-inspired' etc… The western designers are using more prints and ethnic looking patterns then even the African designers! While you see the African designer creating stuff with satins and chiffons!! What else can they create that is NEW?! But think of the endless, yet-to-be-seen designs that we African Designers can make with our local fabrics in ways that the west cannot even imagine!

    AFRICA ARISE! African Fashion Designers, Arise and be dang proud of the fabrics from your villages and DO SOMETHING WITH IT!!! Create a need and a market, so that even the local weavers in the local communities can make a better living for themselves and their families!

  27. Great post and I too give a resounding NO! I left a long comment similar to yours on Fashion Africa, but not as compelling, but you made your point very clear. There are a lot of women looking for validation from the mainstream media and the western media to validate them, to include them as equals, to recognise their worth, to prove them as not being inferior and this is truly sad! People who feel this way have no idea who they are.

    Again, this reeks of the pathological rejection of the African beauty aesthetic. The photos are quite beautiful, but people fail to realize that the dominant culture will always attempt to determine fashion and beauty because of the money it generates.

    The style and culture of the indigenous people throughout the world serves as an inspiration to many designers, some will be honest enough to admit this and others won't. I've read about a lot of the African designers featured on several sites and also worried about their ability to get their clothing to market.

    The only Conde Nast publication of VOGUE which represents the given country is Vogue India, even China and Korea suffer from the same identity crisis as if they're not blond and blue-eyed they're not considered beautiful.

    In the past years I've been in awe of the numerous African inspired magazines by what they done and have proved to the west and the African American publishers that they can create a market of something that was once missing. The only thing that I want to see them use is more diversity in hairstyles because we've all but abandoned the art of braiding.

    China and Korea made billions off of American women when it came to wigs, weaves and things, now Africa is doing the same thing by becoming their largest customers due to the added wealth. We must not lose our identity's in order to fit in and show we've prospered because once we abandon that, we're really going to be lost.

    Mother Africa created beauty that the world can not deny, it's the quest for the Euro-standard of beauty that African women will never obtain that destroys the psyche.

  28. ngum says:

    case very well made!

  29. Welove says:

    I totally agree with you. We dont need Vogue Africa. I would rather buy Arise or Canoe. We need to support our and buil our on brands. Otherwise, the west will continue to hijack and steal whats our as they have always done.

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