The latest edition of Senegal's Dakar Fashion Week is all about sustainable fashion. In December 2020, the Senegalese capital city featured 20 designers that promote environmental responsibility with their new collections.

The organizers of this year’s Dakar Fashion Week set the catwalk event outside, in a baobab forest, to protect people from the coronavirus and send a sustainability message to the world.

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Dakar Fashion Week 18th Edition

The 18th edition of Dakar Fashion Week almost didn't happen due to coronavirus restrictions. The minimalist event took place on December 12 and 13, because of the rise of COVID-19 in the country.

The organizers still managed to host a marvelous show of sustainable fashion in the Nguékhokh baobab forest of Senegal's Bandia reserve, even if the event's second catwalk show was unfortunately canceled.

80 km south of the capital, the unmissable event for African fashion welcomed fantastic designers presenting slow fashion collections that encourage this year's theme, eco-responsible fashion.

Handmade responsible fashion

20 designers showcased eco-friendly collections that have been locally handmade rather than mass-produced in factories. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, clothing orders were canceled, textile and garment factories stood still, and many workers lost their livelihood.

Let's hope that through this initiative, the clothing industry realizes the importance of locally sourced products and addresses the many issues currently preventing fashion from becoming more sustainable.

"A lot of the designers had already been doing slow fashion but they didn't know it. It's made here and it's not made in huge quantities. We were so ashamed of that for years but now we are proud of it. This is luxury."

- Adama Ndiaye, Dakar Fashion Week founder, and Adama Paris designer

Addressing the planetary crisis

However, a lot of fabric used at this year's Dakar Fashion Week was imported from abroad.

Even if the design and production occur locally on the continent, a lot of effort, innovation, and investments are required to support the local economy and the well-being of local communities.

Sustainable fashion should not only empower the local community of weavers but also provide them with a sustainable livelihood. It's very urgent to provide work to underserved communities.

It's particularly crucial to help them and their families survive through the unprecedented crisis and subsequent lockdown.

"Fashion Weeks exist specifically to promote the idea of continuous consumption of new clothes. They can still be a celebration of creativity, imagination, and innovation. But everything just needs to be geared towards the planetary crisis."

- Bel Jacobs, Fashion Act Now co-founder

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About the Author: Alex Assoune

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