The African Fashion Research Institute was founded in 2019, largely shaped by what we consider to be the urgent and overdue need to remember, rethink, and rewrite fashion histories that speak to afro-centric ways of wearing, knowing, making, and styling often absent in fashion books, exhibitions, and imaginations. The African Fashion Research Institute (AFRI) shares the work of local and global African fashion pioneers, academics, makers, thinkers, students, critics and leaders through fashion-driven decolonial research projects and digital platforms. We aim to create new networks of knowledge generation and exchange with online and shareable materials for outreach, curricula development and general public interest. Partnerships and collaborations are at the forefront of building our community, with African fashion studies leading the way to rethink and reframe fashion aesthetics and practices emerging on, and from the continent and its diaspora. Together, we showcase cultural and creative knowledges, archive unique, diverse, alternate identity narratives, and sustain new design narratives.



AFRI aims to bring together the work of African fashion academics and creatives for the wider benefit of diverse research communities and diverse audiences. We envisage both a digital and physical hub, platform or network that can host virtual and real exhibitions, podcasts, talks, workshops, papers, zines, performance interventions and more, while reaching new audiences and creating new archives for these projects.
AFRI engages local and global African fashion activists, pioneers, academics, makers, thinkers and students in order to support research, and articulate and archive diverse cultural narratives. We develop partnerships and projects in order to lead fashion-driven decolonial research across diverse platforms and networks of knowledge generation and exchange. We aim to (re)think and (re)frame fashion aesthetics, narratives and practices emerging on and from the continent and its diaspora, and create shareable materials for outreach, curricula and general public interest.
In a continent, where the sartorial is deeply vested in the political, cultural, creative and social crafting and presentation of identities, histories and futures, it is critical that African fashion is afforded new and sustained forms of attention. Fashion offers a powerful, material and conceptual lens across diverse spaces/expressions, such as gender, class, power, trade, intimacy, memory, technology, and more. We aim to become a nexus for and facilitator of these complex conversations, creating shared platforms with diverse partners who collectively will contribute to, curate, showcase, archive and distribute ideas around practices of contemporary and conceptual African fashion, whilst also critically rethinking, rewriting, reimagining, and reflecting on African fashion histories and their fashioned futures.


Erica de Greef


Dr Erica de Greef is a curator, author and co-founder of the African Fashion Research Institute (AFRI). She works collaboratively to promote redress and invite decolonial (re)imagination, with projects spanning museums, creative platforms, educational institutions and grassroot spaces. She holds a PhD in African Studies from the University of Cape Town with a thesis titled ‘Sartorial Disruptions’.

Lesiba Mabitsela


Lesiba Mabitsela is an interdisciplinary artist and fashion designer from Johannesburg, South Africa. Mabitsela’s artistic work incorporates site-specific performances, fashion design and digital archiving with critical fashion and performance studies in his explorations of African masculine identities. Mabitsela is also known for engineering garments created for the brand Lesiba Mabitsela Studio.

Siviwe James

Social Media / Communications Manager

Siviwe James is a researcher, arts practitioner and archivist whose work speaks through visual and sonic archaeology, as reconstructions of place and meaning. James' practice inserts fragments of time in the voids of history, creating (k)new imaginaries as landscapes of knowledge of the lives and worlds of Xhosa people, working with both personal and public audio-visual archival materials and everyday interviews.

Scott Eric Williams

(Research Fellow) Curator / Project Manager

Scott Eric Williams (MAVS Cum Laude Stellenbosch University) is a Cultural Producer from Cape Town, South Africa working in diverse media – weaving, wheatpaste, photography, zine making, and site-specific performances. Williams contributes to the visual arts landscape as a visual artist, youth educator, curator, writer, and scholar with particular interests in alternative pedagogical projects and fibre art.

Thabiso Ncanana

Research Assistant

Thabiso Ncanana is a fashion artist and creative director from Esikhawini, Richard’s Bay. His work merges heritage with contemporary sentiment in exploration of celebrating African culture via the medium of fashion. Primarily informed by the rural and indigenous etiquette such as conservation and sustainability (ukonga nokuhlonipha imvelo), his design direction accentuates the bond between human and nature, past and present, material and concept within the African cultural context.

Abdul Dube


Abdul Dube is a multidisciplinary artist, designer and curator Aarhus,Denmark and Berlin , Germany. His work concerns questions of multicultural belonging, racism, resistance, intersectional solidarity, heritage, sustainability, Black imagination. Abdul’s recent heritage related work includes facilitating an antiblack racism in our public archives workshop with Black Archives Sweden resulting in a zine called BLACK SPACE ; facilitating European Colonial Heritage Modalities in Entangled Cities; and Creative Liaison to the Aros Museum Education Department.

heeten bhagat

Research Associate

heeten bhagat is a shit stirrer by nature. He works in the emerging terrain of pracademics - looking to expand collaborations and design experiments between academia and real-life systems. He approaches this work primarily as a methodologist - working to bring pragmatic and pertinent programming to support decolonial & diversity-related work in overlooked /underserved learning environments.

Bongani Tau


Bongani Tau is a fashion researcher, writer, and creative consultant in the advertising industry. His work features in multiple international publications. His creative endeavours include Abengoni as a research and outreach project to empower South African township youth through critical fashion education and multi-media studies.

African Fashion Research Institute (PTY) LTD, registration number: 2019/291525/07

AFRI is classified as an EME and Level 2 BBEEE compliant.