‘You can be an African brand and still do modern things.’ These are the prophetic words of Aji Ayorinde, founder of Made In Africa Clothing (MIA). With his calm demeanour, the lawyer turned businessman remains assured as he tells us why the world needs tailored African clothing.
Ahead of the brand’s exciting appearance at Africa Fashion Week London, we caught up with the entrepreneur to talk African ownership, production and this global generation’s love for African culture.
In basic, Made in Africa Clothing is a brand which sells handmade formal wear and street wear produced by highly skilled tailors across Africa. But there is a greater play at hand in the business. The brand also aims to connect creatives across Africa through a network which creates business opportunities and encourages creatives to work together. ‘A lot of these tailors are already doing very well in their respective industries, we’re just adding an extra strand to their markets. Sitting at the cross bridge between corporate and creative, Aji understands the need to connect African creatives and the business opportunities which can be created by bringing these vibrant minds together, especially with a diverse and vast global market who are ready to consume their products.
Like a production line, Made In Africa works with efficiency. A unique selling point, is of course the brand's hand made aspect, which Aji explains is a derivative of their close attention to detail and love for quality. Prepared to destroy lazy stereotypes about what the African clothing experience is supposed to feel like, MIA merge luxury, professionalism and most importantly African ownership into one brand - as their name suggests, all their fits are produced in Africa. Aji explains how he is responsible for the designs and because the brand has such strong relationships with the best African tailors in countries like South Africa, Zambia and Nigeria, he is able to pass over those designs and have them produced to the highest quality and very quickly. Delivery may only take up to a week which is an impressive turnover.
The company's long term aim is to have a tailor in every African country. By doing this they can showcase the differences and nuances in various African countries, showing that African culture is diverse and vast. MIA ties these different cultures all together in one brand. This is unique since African tailors are being cut into the distribution and are being given the opportunity to expand into Western markets too.
Speaking of European markets, we discussed the recent 'Wakanda spirit' in the air - referring to the global economy's sudden acceptance of African culture following the success of Black Panther. This pattern has been pushed by Europeans as well as those from the African diaspora who are proud to represent the Motherland. Aji spoke with class about the importance of Western companies including African tailors in the production process rather than just being inspired by them and producing African inspired clothing without them or acknowledging the source.
There are a number of exciting designs which will be modeled at Africa Fashion Week London by MIA. A strong brand with an emphasis on working and connecting with African tailors, we believe their hand made fits are going to become very popular. Ready to empower African creatives, you can view more about Made In Africa Clothing here.