Fashion Activism at African Fashion Festival

International Festival of African Fashion (c) France24

The International Festival for Fashion in Africa (FIMA) makes all other Fashion Weeks look unimportant. (Sorry #PFW, we still love you!)

On December 23rd, FIMA had its 10th runway show in Agadez, Niger, celebrating 20 years of international fashion. The organization’s motto is “peace, culture, and development.” Their number-one goal is combatting racism against dark-skinned models and designers.

When the fashion world hires non-white models, they pick girls with lighter skin tones. Model of the World Awa Sanoko says, “when they say ‘we want a black girl’ they mean … not very very black.” FIMA hires people of all skin tones, and Sanoko is optimistic about the future: “Right now in fashion, especially in African fashion, we see that they’re showing a lot of black girls.”

Nigerian designer and festival coordinator Alphadi says the festival’s fashion fights racism. “This African fashion is the kind of fashion that everyone can wear, and in doing so, it dignifies what these African designers are doing.”