Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.



Fashion

April 5th, 2017

WE HAVE A WINNER! – The African Social Enterprise Fund – Sustainable Fashion Award 2017

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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”.

I am an African designer: But I am also a designer from Africa.

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:

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image seen at Nothing But the Wax

How did you become a fashion designer?

I didn’t have many opportunities at home. At a time when I should have been preparing for tertiary education in Burkina Faso, I was discouraged by the socio-economic environment at home. I don’t come from a rich family, but because I saved, I could afford to pay for the first part of my tertiary career, elsewhere.

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.

After completing my studies (with the financial help of internships along the way), I entered the field of Finance, working day and night in the La Defense region: the business district of France. In a world where there was no room for creativity, it was not long before I had to turn in my black, blue or grey suit, for the coloured pencils which mark my design pages. I am, first and foremost, creative. I like to create things, not follow things. But I had to go through everything that I have gone through in life, to learn this.

What does African fashion mean to you?

Generally, people think African fashion means cutting up printed material to make a shirt – a dashiki. There’s more to it. There is a culture and lifestyle; there are textiles and patterns to consider…and crucially, there is design. I am an African designer: But I am also a designer from Africa.

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?

Many people have a negative impression of African Fashion. The challenge is to confront that and to show that African fashion can be high quality, innovative, wearable and universal. As a black African designer based in Europe, I have had to prove myself. This is a difficult, but not impossible.I had a show in Brussels once. Working from home in Burkina Faso, I received the clothing items from local tailors at the last minute, just before I boarded the flight to Europe. Upon arrival, I checked the pieces and not all of them were up to par. Two days before the show, I sourced a tailor in Paris to adjust the work according to my designs, and arrange for someone to catch a train from Paris to deliver the pieces on the day of the show. They arrived moments before we showcased. The reception was great, but that was an experience that I never want to repeat. The stress is just not worth it.

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.

 

Originally published by Prospero World





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