From Dar to Paris: Tanzanian designer makes history in France

Anjali Borkhataria became thefirst Tanzanian designer to host a pop-up at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France, the largest department store in Europe.

The founder and creative director of Ekantik, an African heritage fashion brand, talks to The Beat about the new milestone and what it means for Tanzania’s fashion and creative industry.

Tell us how you got the opportunity to showcase at the world’s biggest department store.

I had the privilege of showcasing at Africa Fashion Up in their inaugural season back in 2021. The platform initially focused on fashion shows but has evolved to include pop-up events to boost sales for each designer.

This year, they invited me to participate in a prestigious pop-up organised by Galeries Lafayette. Galeries Lafayette is the largest and one of the most iconic department stores in Europe, renowned for featuring only LVMH and luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Dior.

Securing a spot here is a significant milestone, as it reflects the increasing recognition of African designers on the international fashion stage. The opportunity to showcase Ekantik in such a revered space is a testament to our hard work, creativity, and the growing appreciation for African fashion.

What does this signify for Tanzania’s fashion?

This opportunity to showcase at Galeries Lafayette is a monumental achievement for Tanzania’s fashion industry. Being featured in such a prestigious venue, known for housing some of the world’s most renowned luxury brands, is a testament to the growing recognition and appreciation for Tanzanian design talent.

It signifies that our fashion industry is on par with global standards and that our designers have the creativity, skill, and vision to compete on an international stage. This exposure not only elevates the profile of Ekantik but also shines a spotlight on Tanzania as a burgeoning hub of fashion innovation.

It opens doors for other Tanzanian designers and encourages investment and interest in our local fashion industry. Representing Tanzania at Galeries Lafayette is a proud moment that highlights our country’s potential and reaffirms our place in the global fashion narrative.

What’s the pop-up all about?

The pop-up at Galeries Lafayette is a vibrant celebration of African fashion, featuring six talented designers from various parts of the continent: Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Morocco, and Tanzania.

The designers selected for this event are not just chosen because they are African designers, but because each one possesses a unique and distinct taste that adds depth and variety to the showcase.

The pop-up is more than just a sales event; it’s a platform to celebrate our motherland, Africa, and to introduce the world to the incredible talent and creativity that exists within our borders.

It provides a unique opportunity for customers to purchase authentic, high-quality African designs that are not only stylish but also tell a story of our heritage and craftsmanship.

The event underscores the importance of supporting local artisans and designers and highlights the growing influence of African fashion in the global market.

Tell us about the collection you exhibited.

For this pop-up, I decided to showcase a comprehensive range of Ekantik pieces that we have created to date, rather than focusing on a specific collection. This being my first pop-up in Paris, I wanted to ensure that our customers had a wide array of options to choose from, showcasing the versatility and breadth of our brand.

Each piece is crafted with meticulous attention to detail, blending traditional African aesthetics with contemporary design elements. Each piece is available in multiple sizes to cater to a diverse clientele.

This approach allowed us to demonstrate the full scope of what Ekantik has to offer, ensuring that every customer could find something that resonated with their personal style.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with sales reaching impressive five-figure sums, reflecting the quality, craftsmanship, and unique designs that Ekantik is known for. 

What next after this milestone?

Following this incredible milestone, we have several exciting projects in the pipeline. One of the most significant is a television show we are filming in London, set to air on Netflix and various TV networks.

The show, titled “Fit for the First Lady,” features five African designers competing to create stunning outfits fit for a First Lady. This project not only provides a platform for showcasing our design skills but also aims to highlight the cultural significance and creativity of African fashion.

Beyond this, we remain open to new opportunities that come our way. While we haven’t mapped out every detail, the focus will be on continuing to grow Ekantik, exploring new markets, and collaborating with other creatives to push the boundaries of fashion.

The journey is far from over, and we are excited about what the future holds as we continue to represent Tanzanian fashion on the world stage.

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