Recently we had to partner with Prospero World on their African Social Enterprise Fund (ASEF) flagship programme. The ASEF aims to support young African pioneers in the Arts and creative industries, to become socially minded entrepreneurs committed to affecting positive social change. The Fund was formally launched at Sotheby’s on 3rd December 2016. The programme’s first three award categories are Fashion, Music and the Visual Arts.
We are delighted to announce that following a rigorous selection process which included a public campaign #ApplyNow, and three days of intensive panel interviews, we have selected the winner of the 2017 ASEF Fashion Award.
Originally from Burkina Faso, 31 year old Bernadin Sebgo (Bernie Seb), is now based in Paris. A former KPMG senior auditor and chef, Bernie is now growing his men’s fashion brand De La Sebure, which he describes as “daring conformism”.
Bernie won over the interview panel with his creativity and business acumen, as well as his socially and environmentally minded approach to fashion, and his determination to achieve positive social change.
Burkina Faso based label De La Sebure, employs twenty-six people, most of whom are women. Bernie knows each of them personally and shares their stories, motivations, and concerns with his costumers, as well as with De La Sebure’s brand ambassadors. His ambition for the coming year, is to grow the production in Burkina Faso and increase sales in Africa, Europe and the USA.
The ASEF Sustainable Fashion Award will support Bernie over the next six months with world-class leadership training, mentoring, and financial support. Specifically, his award will include participation in a 2 week International Leadership programme in Italy, a 1-week course on Ethical and Sustainable Practice in Fashion at Central Saint Martins College in London, attendance at the Fashion Africa Conference in London, and he will receive on-going mentoring and coaching. Finally, the ASEF will provide Bernie with a £3,000 product development grant to enable him to further develop the De La Sebure brand, invest in workshop equipment in Burkina Faso, and expand his team.
Prospero aims to celebrate the success of its first intake of ASEF alumni by showcasing their achievements at an event in London in early 2018.
We are excited to have Bernie confirmed as a speaker at our upcoming Fashion Africa Conference in London on May 25/26th. Register for your tickets today to take advantage of the early booking discount
Interview with the ASEF Fashion Award winner, Bernie Seb:
image seen at Nothing But the Wax
How did you become a fashion designer?
I arrived in Paris, ten years ago, an 18 year old bright eyed, bright styled boy from Burkina Faso, to attend business school. I, was quite flustered when I first encountered conservative France. Everyone was wearing black, blue or grey. Everyone seemed stressed and in a rush. My smiles at people on public transport were met with blank stares back. At first it was frustrating. Then, it became the way of life. In hindsight, I think this catalysed my frustration towards conformism. I hate it. But this frustration also inspired my brand De La Sebure, whose aim is to dare conformism.
What does African fashion mean to you?
The more people see great design which reflects African and its culture, the more they are willing to subsume “African” fashion into their own lifestyle. This is what I am trying to achieve. I want people to realise that African fashion, is not first and foremost African, it is design; just as much as with French or American fashion.
What are the biggest challenges that you are facing as an African fashion designer?
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
People are turning back to the love of African inspired design. I am fascinated by this demand. To reflect wealth, people used to purchase clothing from specific brands from western markets, but now it is simply about expression – which is where De La Sebure fits it. The company is a menswear design brand that merges African traditions with European modernism. Its design is bold, defined by daring colours, textures and cuts. The De La Sebure man is an elegant, avant-garde and individual! This is my inspiration.