by Stephen Garner
Lukhanyo Mdingi

After careful deliberation of over 250 applications, five African designers have been chosen to participate in the first Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) Accelerator program; REIGN, Margaux Wong, Lukhanyo Mdingi, WUMAN, and Jiamini.

To celebrate their selection by an expert judging panel comprising Hirofumi Kurino, Susi Billingsley, and Dakore Egbuson-Akande, the EFI has issued a series of videos capturing the process and inspirations of the African designers who will have their collections formally revealed during Pitti Uomo 2021 through a digital showroom and presentation.

The EFI Accelerator program focuses on the specific needs of African fashion brands, with a business development approach that prepares its beneficiaries to become investment-ready. The accelerator targets existing fashion brands producing in Africa, who require additional support to accelerate their business in the global marketplace.

The EFI has been helping to bring African Fashion Design to the world stage since 2013. Having previously mentored a number of African fashion brands and brought designers to events such as Vogue’s Fashion Night Out, Pitti Uomo, and Altaroma.

The program will help the selected brands expand their supply chain and scale up their production, source new products, and develop their production team. Brands will be assigned a production mentor, with whom one-to-one support meetings will take place.

The accelerator will also support the management and production of the key designs of the first collection, which will be manufactured through experienced companies selected within the EFI network.

The program will also help businesses understand investment, develop strategies for maximizing brand equity, build a funding proposition, and market themselves as an attractive investment proposition to angel investors or VC funds. The program includes workshops and 1-1 mentoring sessions delivered by industry experts and concludes with an opportunity to pitch to investors at a networking event.

Learn more about the winning designers here.

Margaux Wong