Celebrating Earth Day With African Fashion’s Sustainable Pioneers

Observed annually on April 22nd, Earth Day marks a pivotal moment in the global environmental movement born in 1970. 

As we commemorate this day, it’s crucial to recognize the ongoing efforts of individuals, communities, and organizations worldwide in the pursuit of a healthier planet and a brighter future. Meet 5 African labels leading the charge:


Founded by Katungulu Mwendwa in 2014, Katush embodies Kenya’s rich heritage while challenging outdated perceptions of African fashion. In partnership with Fine Spinners Uganda and the Cotton made in Africa initiative, Katush champions sustainable cotton production and empowers smallholder farmers, ensuring exquisite garments that foster economic prosperity and environmental responsibility.

Image via @katushnairobi


Nkwo Onwuka’s is a member of BAF Fashion Legal Working Group and her eponymous label stands as a beacon of sustainability in Nigeria’s fashion landscape. With a focus on preserving traditional crafts and reducing waste, NKWO collaborates closely with local artisans to create innovative pieces that blend ancient West African techniques with contemporary flair. Their upcoming initiative, “TRANSFORMABLES,” slated to launch in Lagos on May 4th, reimagines fashion consumption by repurposing customers’ old jeans and cotton t-shirts into entirely new garments.

Image via @nkwo_official


Luke Radloff’s Johannesburg-based label, UNI FORM, redefines contemporary fashion through a lens of sustainability and cultural heritage. Their latest collection, “Communion,” pays homage to indigenous South African craft, featuring handwoven textiles and natural materials sourced from local artisans. As the inaugural winner of the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation x Orveda Prize, UNI FORM embodies the new generation of African fashion talent, challenging conventions and championing craftsmanship.

Images via @uniformza


José Hendo, a British designer of Ugandan descent and a member of Building African Fashion’s Champions Council, is a pioneer in eco-sustainable fashion, challenging the prevailing culture of disposability. Renowned for her innovative designs, she has garnered numerous awards. Hendo advocates for the use of organic, eco-friendly textiles and upcycled materials in crafting distinctive garments and accessories for both genders. Her commitment to ethical principles and environmental preservation is evident in her extensive use of Barkcloth, a centuries-old fabric made from sustainably harvested tree bark. This ancient textile, which predates the advent of weaving, epitomizes the essence of sustainability.

Image via @josehendo

In 2014, José Hendo initiated “BARK TO THE ROOTS” (B2TR), forging ties with the Bukomansimbi Organic Tree Farmers Association (BOTFA) in Uganda, stewards of this timeless tradition.


After debuting in 2022, the Uganda Pavillion curated by Acaye Kerunen returned for its second installment at the 60th Venice Biennale and José Hendo’s works featured alongside other esteemed artists such as Sanaa Gateja, Taga Nuwagaba, Xenson Ssenkaaba, Odur Ronald and the lesser-known Artisan Weavers’ Collective.

Images via @josehendo


Simba Nyawiri and Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri, the visionary duo behind Vanhu Vamwe, epitomize ethical luxury with their legacy brand. Through playful, innovative storytelling and collaboration with artisans in Zimbabwe and Ecuador, Vanhu Vamwe creates handcrafted heirlooms that bridge cultural divides and empower women in marginalized communities.

Image via @vanhuvamwe

As we celebrate Earth Day, let’s not only admire the creativity and innovation of these African fashion pioneers but also take action to support sustainability in our own lives. 


Whether it’s choosing eco-friendly brands, participating in Earth Day events, or advocating for environmental policies, each of us has a role to play in preserving our planet for future generations.


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