African-inspired designs are indeed trendy and prevalent—as seen by Michael Kors, Burberry and Donna Karan—yet African designers themselves remain obscure on the fashion scene. African designs/clothing are sold for hundreds and thousands of dollars in the Western world. The panel will touch upon the development of African fashion: How does it function within the continent and on a global scale? How do Africans vs. Non-Africans deploy it? What are the visible steps that have been taken re: the Fashion industry in Africa? Where is the progress? Where is that progress coming from? Is African Fashion still underestimated/undervalued in African nations or has that discourse changed? 


Yomi AbiolaYomi Abiola started her career as an international model. She was the first African face for Maybelline cosmetics. She has since expanded her career into journalism as a contributing editor to and L’Uomo Vogue. In 2010 she became an associate to the UNESCO Chair for human rights. She has built programs for schools using fashion art and culture as tools for education. Her most recent venture is the first global platform to promote social responsibility in the fashion industry–Stand Up For Fashion.

Yomi is an activist, contributing editor to Vogue Italia and founder of Stand Up For Fashion (STUFF). STUFF is the first global platform to promote social responsibility in the fashion industry.



pic 2Sandra Appiah is a young visionary who at the age of 23, has been called an influential media mogul in the making and was recently listed in Forbes 30 Under 30: Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs. The co-founder of ambitious and fast growing media group Face2face Africa, she became one of the world’s youngest black Editor-in-Chief’s when her company launched its new contemporary pan-African magazine F2FA, to rave reviews in January 2013.

Ms. Appiah graduated with honors from the Newhouse School of Public Communications and spent a lot of time in the media industry working with companies such as the New York Times, HBO, and MTV.

She co-founded Face2face Africa with partner Isaac Boateng, with the mission to provide a competitive, influential and modern platform that will serve as the voice for Africans and the emergent generation of afro-descendants.

An avid believer in Africa with an interest in showcasing the glory of the continent, Ms. Appiah is also working on a talk show with the tagline “Everything African and Beyond.”



Kahindo Mateene

Kahindo Mateene is a Chicago-based fashion designer and the creative force behind brand, MODAHNIK. Founded in 2009, MODAHNIK is known for the mix of vibrant colors with bold prints. Having lived  and traveled in Africa, Europe and America, Kahindo expertly combines these different stylistic elements, bringing a unique point of view to her design aesthetic. A native of the The Democratic Republic of Congo, she pulls inspiration from the Avante Garde spirit of the Congolese art and culture.

The MODAHNIK woman is a global nomad who views fashion as a creative expression of her individuality.  She is classically feminine with an edge and dares to be bold. With a vibrant color story, African-influenced prints are intermixed with modern styles for the sophisticated woman.  Each MODAHNIK design pays close attention to detail and are tailored to flatter a woman’s natural curves. MODAHNIK has been featured in WWD, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, Refinery 29 and on runways in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Johannesburg.

Kahindo holds a BFA in Fashion Design from Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago and a BA in International Business & Economics, from Blackburn College. She is an alumni of the 2011 class of the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street Designer In Residence Program.



Ann McCreathAnn McCreath (via skype) is a fashion designer and the founder and head of KikoRomeo, a fashion house based in Nairobi, Kenya. After completing fashion design studies in Italy, followed by years working as a designer in Barcelona, Scottish born McCreath took a three-month break doing aid work in Kenya. Finding it fascinating, she stayed on for 3 years, before deciding to go back to her profession and do trade instead of aid.

So in 1996 with a desire to help create jobs in rural areas and make unique, high quality products for retail, Ann launched KikoRomeo, which means “Adam’s apple” in Kiswahili. Hoping Kenyans would take pride in African-inspired contemporary fashion, and promote their economy through buying locally made fashion, she set about making ethically sound products with inputs from community artisans and women’s groups, which she retailed through her own shop.

In 2008, during post election violence, Ann founded the Festival of African Fashion & Arts (FAFA), together with other arts and media professionals. Kenyan and Pan-African designers came together for the “Fashion for Peace” event in the Nairobi National Park. This has developed into an annual event and recognized platform for designers from Africa and the African diaspora.

Ann has an MA (Hons) from the University of Edinburgh and a Diploma in Fashion Design from KOEFIA in Rome. She has lived in Africa since 1990. She received the International Creativity Award from Notte en Fiore in Sicily in 2010, and was a finalist in the 2012 Source Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Fashion.


Chioma Achebe (Moderator) is a second-year JD/MBA student at Harvard Business & Law Schools. Prior to starting business school, she led consumer research efforts for the launch of a South African mobile savings product. Chioma studied Economics at Harvard College, where she was President of the Harvard African Students Association. In 2011, she founded OSISI, an online fashion hub for African-inspired fashion. OSISI retails pieces made by top designers from Nigeria, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Uganda, and the US. OSISI’s mission is to contribute to the sustainability of the African fashion market by raising the profile of our partner-designers.