By Glory Okeleke, October 25 2023—
“We aim to continuously foster growth and empowerment within the African community through fashion, music, dance and food. While sharing our rich culture with the city of Calgary”– African Fashion Week (AFW) Calgary
Attending the AFW, was admittedly one of my top summer highlights. This event, which was flooded with some of Calgary’s fashion-forward creatives, paved the way for those within the city to behold the spirited vitality that can otherwise be known as African fashion.
Since its founding in 2019 by Elizabeth Aberefa, AFW has been a highly anticipated event that fuses African creatives here within the diaspora together — to showcase and uplift African brands and businesses within Alberta.
The vibrancy and boundlessness of African art were expressed ardently in the atmosphere through the feel of the community, the music, the dance, the food, and most of all, the fashion.
“The mission of this event is not to covet African Fashion but to showcase and share the experience which it expels to all who pay a visit, for both Africans and non-Africans,” said Aberefa.
Here are my top five takeaways from the AFW 2023 in anticipation of next year’s rendition.
The notion of being together in a community was an anomaly that was tangibly felt during this event. There is a necessity for gatherings such as this one to occur especially within the city of Calgary because it is crucial for the globalization of the rich culture of Africa. It is within spaces like the one curated by African Fashion Week that people feel comfortable enough to get curious about certain things and ask questions.
One major challenge of moving across the world and finding a home in a different nation is the struggle to uphold the culture that was once dear to your heart. Africa is so diverse and so full of culture that is yet to be discovered by many. Withal, this annual showcase at African Fashion Week is doing a fine job of showcasing more of the wealth of African culture to the Western world.
With outstanding dance performances from Radwa Nasr, a skilled folk dancer and the prodigious female-centred dance group that is known as Naija’s Angels, the audience witnessed compelling dance presentations that were very entertaining. Through these exceptional performances, one could attest confidently that the expressions effortlessly portrayed by the dancers were embedded within the resplendency of their cultures.
From the tastiest beef suya in the city by Aboki Suya, to the most refreshing cocktails one could get on a hot summer day from Cocktails by Riree, AFW had ready delicious food and refreshments from some of Calgary’s reputable food vendors. It was not a surprise that a motivating factor for some guests at the event was to get a fill on some noteworthy African dishes.
African fashion is a force that can not be limited, dating as far back as possible, if one takes a close look, one will see for themselves that Africa has always been a continent opulent in fashion, art and creativity. The beauty and rich culture of African fashion is everything.
And so, need I say more? As echoed by many at the fashion show, the hope for the future with a space like this one is to grow beyond measure; to spark up curiosity and an interest in non-Westernized fashion for those within the city and the country at large.