African Fashion Week London 2017 is a two day event jam packed with an array of black owned businesses showcasing their ethnic fashion creations.
Business owners come from all over for two days to sell their products that range from halal African food, fresh juices, natural beauty products to the latest fashion designs.
Above I’m pictured with my dearest Shaz Hossen, owner of @sh.athletics (www.shazfit.co.uk) Im wearing a full length dress made by me from Ankara material. I made it for last years ‘Gele Galore’ and with it being mustard, one of my fav colours to wear and given that its summer and all I thought it was the perfect fit.
This year was my first year attending AFW London I attended with a VIP ticket and has access to a special VIP lounge area which served fresh tropical juices. I was finally able to try the infamous Soursop juice my colleague and co-founder of Culturing Success, Rikki, has told me about. It’s a hit with her due to its abundance in minerals and vitamins and its Cancer fighting properties.
We browsed around the stalls before settling into the first show of the day and found many familiar faces from a previous exhibition we ourself exhibited at (Afro Hair & Beauty Live). I loved the strong theme of colour in the room from the clothing being sold to the eye catching outfits of the attendees.
I must say, I felt right at home.
Models: @maxwellchartey & @alfiejcarreira Stylist: @samson_soboye Photo: dayoawee
Our VIP tickets allowed us to view the fashion shows from the front row. Due to the run way not being elevated it would have been difficult for me to fully enjoy the show sitting behind someone else due to my height. (I’m 5ft). I thoroughly enjoyed the first show as it was not as packed as the second. On the second show of the evening is where some issues started to arise. When my colleague and I returned to the show hall to take our seats we were practically removed because these seats were now being reserved for ‘influencers’.
Although wholly unnecessary, as there were plenty of empty seats available for these ‘influencers’ to sit, we politely removed ourselves and tried to agree with the stewardess’s for a better place for us to sit. We were then told that we were not permitted to enter the show and now must leave as our wrist bands were incorrect. After explaining to the stewardesses that our tickets were for the whole day and there must have been a mix up at the front desk, they allowed us to finally be seated in peace.
Soon after, I noticed another round of AFW London stewards making their rounds and removing people out of their seats I thought it would be best to go back to the front desk and rectify the issue, leaving my belongings inside the room as i was just ‘popping out’. More fool me, as when I arrived at the desk and spoke to the very gentleman who issued my wrist band in the first place I was told I must immediately leave. That my ticket was finished and even though my ticket clearly stated the times 12.00pm-9.00pm I had to leave at 7.00pm because my ticket was ‘complimentary’. He also went on to tell me my ticket only entitles me to a 5pm show and thats it, no goody bag and nothing else, even though he himself happily handed one to me when I first arrived.
I then had to stand on the spot and plead my case with the gentleman explaining that all my belongings and colleague were inside waiting for me to return. He reluctantly let me return to watch the show only for me to find after all of that kerfuffle someone else had been placed in my seat. Even though the stewardesses that placed me there, knew i was sitting there. Even though my colleague explained that I would only be gone for a few minutes. Even though my bag was on the chair waiting for my return, they still didn’t care and placed another person there. So on my return and with the show imminently starting I was left to crouch on the floor. -_-
After a few minutes of trying to analyse the situation I had found myself in, a few of the other attendees who could see my predicament found a seat in the far corner on one of the front rows. I quickly had to crouch and run there in time before the models began to walk and as soon as my bottom hit the seat guess what I was told, ‘oh, you can’t sit here’.
I had literally just had enough and ignored the lady because complimentary ticket or not, this is not how I expect to be treated. Our tickets and the organiser should have been clear about what the ticket includes and excludes.
My colleague and I are more than happy to PAY for a ticket VIP or otherwise. But to be made to feel ‘cheap’ in a sense because we are not the ‘almighty influencers’ who deserve the utmost respect or because we applied early enough to get a complimentary ticket that you as the organisers are offering us is both rude and saddening. The second day was slightly worse as there were many more people in attendance. Unfortunately, my first AFW London happened to be poorly organised and I am not the only person to feel this way. @itsmaryamsalam had a similar experience.
Although this incident was really unprofessional and embarrassing I would still recommend you attend next years, I will be. This incident doesn’t outweigh the positives of the day and I hope the organisers of AFW London will be able to rectify the issues some of their guests experienced.
Overall I would give the event a 6/10, it would have been a 9/10 if it was better organised and the above issues didn’t occur.
South African dance group