Rebranding African, Reclothing Africa: The influence of Emerging Designers in the Production of Aesthetic Cosmopolitanism in Nigerian Fashion Industry

In the last decade, African fashion has become increasingly recognised globally. Not only are Western designers such as Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier incorporating African fashion into their designs, but more importantly, African fashion designers are making their presence felt globally. The creativity, innovation and vibrant designs that characterise their work has drawn the attention of global fashion stakeholders, displacing the old notion of “costume” (Lacey, 2003; Loughran, 2009), and “traditionality” that characterised African clothes (Rovine, 2009). Contemporary fashion from Africa is aesthetic cosmopolitanism (Regev, 2009); the combination of indigenous cultural elements with foreign influence to produce innovative designs and fashion outlook.

The study focuses on Nigerian fashion industry (Lagos) with the aim of analysing how emerging fashion designers are combining global influence with local culture to produce fashion that both are indigenous and internationally appealing. Designers’ higher education and dual fashion training background (local and international training) have positioned them at intersection of two or more cultures which affords them the advantage of incorporating the knowledge and exposure into the designs. Emerging from an already established industry with traditional functionaries, the new designers are creating positive professional image of African fashion business that syncs with international fashion standards and the local culture: professionalism of producers, diversification of prodducts and the standardisation of production process.

Supervisor: Elisio Macamo

Co-Supervisor: Akosua Keseboa Darkwah


Adwoa Owusuaa Bobie is a doctoral candidate at the University of Basel, Switzerland, studying sociology in African studies. Her studies is funded by the Oumou Dilly Foundation. Adwoa obtained her Mphil degree at the University of Ghana from the year 2014 and bachelor’s at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana) in 2010. At the Mphil, she worked on “The Youth in the Ghanaian Fashion Industry” which discusses the creativity of young Ghanaian entrepreneurs who are changing the face of fashion with no or little formal training in fashion. She participated in the maiden edition of the ZASB/CODESRIA Summer School programme through which she earned a scholarship with the Omou Dilly Foundation for her PhD. Adwoa worked as research assistant at EFR consult and also as a freelance research consultant from 2014 to2016.


Barrintos, S. and Bobie, A. O. (2016) “Promoting Gender Equality in the Cocoa-Chocolate Value Chain: Opportunities and Challenges in Ghana”. GDI Working Paper 2016-006. Manchester: The University of Manchester.

Bobie, A.O. (2017). Unconventional Entrepreneurs: The Youth in the Ghanaian Fashion Industry. Africa e Mediterraneo. 85:11-17.


Adwoa Owusuaa Bobie
Rheinsprung 21
4051 Basel