Afro Fashion Association: the voice of diversity and inclusion in Milan

Afro Fashion Association

From the annals of Milan’s vibrant fashion community, the Afro Fashion Association (AFA) has emerged as the leading voice of diversity and inclusion in fashion with a global and diverse reach. For Milan Fashion Week, AFA celebrated the second edition of the Black Carpet Awards with an opening party attended by guests within the AFA community, uniting voices for diversity and inclusion in fashion, celebrating design, art, food, music, technology, business, sport and cinema. Afro Fashion prides itself on curating an event that allows black and brown designers in Milan and worldwide to feel truly seen and celebrated for the works they create and represent in their fields to be appreciated throughout Milan Fashion Week and beyond.

Francesca Ragazzi, Dr Michelle Ngonmo (CEO, Afro Fashion Association) with Anna Wintour at the first edition of Black Carpet Awards via
Afro Fashion Association
Tokyo James and Michelle Ngonmo at the Black Carpet Awards via


On the backdrop of diversity and representation, burgeoning fashion giants like Tokyo James, Sagaboy and Maxivive showcased their fall 2024 collections during Milan Fashion week. While the fashion industry is still critiqued for wanting of representation of black and non-white designers, Afro Fashion attest to these brands as an encapsulation of the shifting paradigm within the fashion industry, especially in Milan, where “there has been a tendency to tokenize black and brown artists and designers, relegating them to the margins of mainstream recognition,” shares Dr Michelle Ngonmo, the chief executive officer of Afro Fashion Association. “However,” she continues, “With the concerted efforts of AFA promoting diversity, equity and inclusion [for] 10 years now, coupled with the undeniable talent and innovation of these designers, there has been a slight evolution.”  From the Black Carpet Awards gala event celebrating a global and diverse fashion community, the AFA’s efforts are broad and far-reaching, with a satellite association in Cameroon and offices in Rwanda and Ghana. The non-profit organization thrives in collaborations with universities and companies such as Apple Creative Studios and LABA Douala Free Academy of Fine Arts in Cameroon on workshops and innovative courses, fetching from lived experiences and granting access and tools to scholars and trainees in fashion and media. The AFA also holds its flagship annual event, Afro Fashion Week, presenting black and brown designers’ latest trends and designs to the catwalks and showrooms of Italy’s fashion capital, Milan.

Afro Fashion Association
Afro Fashion week Milan 2023 via

As black and brown creators emerge and evolve Milan’s fashion space, the resulting shift expands somewhat in accordance with the impact these creators, designers; artists are having not just on Milan but on the global fashion industry. Daphne Di Cinto, a black screenwriter, director, actor and producer, was awarded as a leader of change in creativity, self-proclaimed life-long tiktoker, and incredibly funny Khaby Lamy was awarded the leader of change award for culture. With a background in finance, Tia Taylor, a half-Jamaican, half-Nigerian YouTuber and businesswoman, was awarded the Leader of Change award for entrepreneurship.  Michelle Ngonmo believes that these individuals are “no longer confined to the periphery or seen as merely folkloristic, [they are] now commanding genuine respect and recognition on the global stage and are no longer viewed through the lens of tokenism but are appreciated for their artistic merit, craftsmanship, and unique cultural perspectives.”

Winner of Leader of Change award, Tia Taylor, in a dress by Nigerian Fashion designer, Desiree Iyama. via


Afro Fashion Association
Khaby Lame via


Daphne Di Cinto via

Fashion is exciting and enthralling, when one falls in love with fashion, the clothes and the concepts, there really is no way out, only further in. Ngonmo attests to this buzz within the industry towards black creatives such as Tokyo James at fashion week. She confesses that “the buzz surrounding the success of POC creatives in Milan is palpable,” stating that “their contributions are not only celebrated during fashion week but being integrated into the fabric of the industry year-round.” She further muses on the collaborations between black and brown creatives in Milan and the ways this creative class are “asserting themselves as protagonists, challenging traditional norms, and reshaping the narrative of what constitutes fashion excellence.” Essentially, where Sagaboi, Maxivive or Tokyo James were once heralded as the crown of a niche and confined fashion space, they have since revolutionized and broadened their territory into the spaces and conversations that inform and impact the very fabric of fashion in Milan and the fashion industry at large. Dr Ngonmo declares that, “They are no longer tokens of diversity but trailblazers of innovation and inclusivity, paving the way for a more representative and equitable fashion industry.” On a final note, she expresses that, “Of course the struggle is still real, but things have slowly started moving.”

Tokyo James via F.Y!


Afro Fashion Association (AFA) gave us a sneak peek into the opening party to commemorate the 2024 Black Fashion Awards, celebrating the voices and contributions of black and brown creatives. In attendance were members of the press, academics, fashion industry voices and professionals from various fields. While Milan remains a haven for creativity, exploration and self-discovery, efforts must persist to bridge the gap for a more diverse, inclusive and equitable creative industry. With the unwavering efforts of organizations like AFA, and the continued exchange between artists, their audiences, collaborators and partners, it is evident that we can look to the future with hope and more excitement and open doors to black and brown creatives in Milan and around the world, who are redefining the odds and the creative fashion industry one runway, design, film and content at a time.


Enjoy the gallery of guests present at the 2024 opening party organized by the Afro Fashion Association:

Ada Ugo Abara and Susana Owusu via Afro Fashion Association
Anna Paola Vergani, founder of Polly Fitting Room via Afro Fashion Association
Anna Osei and Bernadette Gouba via Afro Fashion Association
Carlo Capasa via Afro Fashion Association
Celia Sears, Carlo Capasa, Carlo Capasa, Sara Maino, Francesca Ragazzi and Dr Michelle Ngonmo and Nana Brenu via Afro Fashion Association
Cinzia Adanna Ebonine, Madeleine Camara and Tamu McPherson via Afro Fashion Association
Francesca Ragazzi, Lauryn Giddings, Alessia Glaviano via Afro Fashion Assocciation
Geoff Cooper designer SAGABOI via Afro Fashion Association
Janine Gaelle via Afro Fashion Association
Jordan Anderson, Walter D’Aprile and Eduardo Lasala via Afro Fashion Association
Khadim Loum via Afro Fashion Association
Lauryn Giddings and Sara Maino via Afro Fashion Association
Luciana and Adriana Sorelle Tolledo with Imad Skhairi via Afro Fashion Association
Tia Taylor via Afro Fashion Association
Vogue team via Afro Fashion Association
Dr Michelle Ngonmo, Tamu McPherson via Afro Fashion Association
Afro Fashion Association
Dr Michelle Ngonmo, Tamu McPherson, Edward Buchanan
Afro Fashion Association
Dr Michelle Ngonmo
Afro Fashion Association
Mumi Haiati, Dr Michelle Ngonmo and Tim Neugebauer
Afro Fashion Association
Sara Lemlem, Michelle Ngonmo and Lacopo Tonini
Sara Maino
Afro Fashion Association
Sorelle Toledo and Michelle Ngonmo
Afro Fashion Association
Thais Montessori and Lina Gisele
Afro Fashion Association
Teneisha Carr, twins Bruce and Glen Proctor


  • Efua

    Efua Claire Jobi-Taiwo is the fashion and beauty editor at Marie Claire Nigeria. She is passionate about the future of fashion in Nigeria and believes the right outfit can transform the mind and spirit of anybody. She is an excellent event host, mediator and public speaker. She is hopeful to build a beautiful life by God's grace. She is married with a beautiful son and lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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