Eco-fashion hits the runway in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa? It may take you a second to place that city name, but, yes, it’s the capital of Ethiopia. Not exactly Paris, Milan, or New York, but the Hub of Africa Fashion Week event this week is a testament not only to Africa’s growing recognition of itself as a world economic force, and also to the idea that the continent is ground zero for many global environmental challenges. This week’s show incorporates both notions with its focus on eco-fashion.

Specifically, the show’s organizers have given participating designers a challenge: create a fashion line that highlights sustainable development. No doubt, that means audience members will see plenty of hemp, organic cotton, and perhaps even reused textiles. But event organizers Clairvoyant Marketing Agency and In the Bag also highlight the social impact of fashion in their rationale for the show: workers in the developing world are often the hidden victims of fashion’s uglier practices in the fields where raw materials are grown, and in the plants and factories where clothing is made. Given these realities, Ethiopia’s the perfect place for such an event: not only have the residents of the country suffered from environmental catastrophes for decades, but they’ve also been provided with “economic opportunities” that involve low pay and really crappy working conditions. Truly sustainable fashion can help places like Ethiopia pull themselves out of their economic abyss without sacrificing their people’s well-being.

There’s no reason to assume we don’t have readers Addis Ababa, so if you make it to any of the Fashion Week events, please share you experiences with us. And fashionistas, take a look at the photo gallery they’ve put together, and the video above featuring several designers: looks like there will be plenty of glamour onstage.


Image credit: Screen capture from Hub of Africa Fashion Week video