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Farfetch and The Folklore Spotlight ‘Fresh’ African Fashion

Farfetch’s latest venture engages a diverse array of brands and labels, bringing new design perspectives to a wider luxury-hungry audience.

The London-based luxury e-commerce platform announced a new partnership with New York concept store The Folklore, which features high-end and emerging designers from Africa and the diaspora. Farfetch says it’s working to showcase more Black-owned brands, and introduced styles from 10 of The Folklore’s newest African fashion and accessory designers on Wednesday.

The move represents the beginning of a strategic partnership that will see new brands and styles from The Folklore’s cadre of artists debut on the platform each season, illuminated by photo and video content that brings each designer’s story to life.

This week’s drop includes more than 60 limited-edition products across women’s and men’s apparel, jewelry and handbags. Included in the initial launch are Nigeria-based brands Andrea Iyamah, Clan, Fruché, Lisa Folawiyo, Onalaja, Orange Culture and Tokyo James, along with New York-based labels William Okpo, EDAS and Third Crown.

“I created The Folklore in 2018 to provide a space for designers to tell their own stories,” Amira Rasool, founder of The Folklore, said in a statement. “We want people to disassociate from the idea that the African design industry is monolithic; on the contrary, it’s extremely diverse.”

“We also want people to recognize that this isn’t a mass market,” she added. When a shopper buys a piece from one of the featured labels, they might be “one of three people in the world who owns that particular style.”

Most of the products are handmade, and there’s an “exclusive element” to owning African luxury pieces, Rasool said, because of the stories they tell. “For so long, cities like Cape Town and Lagos have been ignored by the fashion community,” she added. “What people are seeing now is fresh in their eyes, and that freshness gives the wearer an advantage.”

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Rasool highlighted Nigerian label Fruché as the capsule’s “most emerging.” She stumbled upon the line’s designer, Frank Aghuno, on social media and brought his creations into The Folklore. “I discovered how in tune he was with what women want to wear, and how they want clothes to make them feel,” she said.

Women who may not see themselves as daring when it comes to fashion are “more willing to take a risk” because of the “pure beauty” of a shirt dress, a slouchy blazer, or a bell-sleeve Victorian top, she added.

Rasool also called out Nigerian aesthete Adebayo Oke-Lawal, creator of Orange Culture, who has amassed his own social media following since 2014, when he was a finalist for the LVMH Prize for emerging designers. She praised the creative’s penchant for telling unique stories with each new line.

“The collection we’re debuting on Farfetch is called the Flower Boy collection, where he really leans into androgyny,” she said. Oke-Lawal aimed to design products that are “truly unisex,” with a focus on inventive textures that are fresh and exciting to shoppers. “I like that he’s found a balance between being super creative and giving us art, but making it wearable,” she said.

The new partnership represents just one of Farfetch’s latest forays into new markets across the globe, via partnerships with brands and competing marketplaces and the expansion of trendy resale programs.

Earlier this month, the company announced a strategic partnership with Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba and luxury holding firm Richemont to bring the world’s luxury brands greater access to some of its most avid shoppers.

And this week, the platform also announced that it would be bringing its popular handbag trade-in program, Farfetch Second Life, to the U.S. after a year-long Europe-centric pilot. In addition to the stateside launch, European consumers will now be able to shop from localized versions of the platform in German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian Danish and Swedish.