Vanichi’s Editor-in-Chief chats with fashion entrepreneur Chekwas Okafor to discover how his retail ecommerce space, ONYCHEK curates African luxury fashion.

Vanichi’s Editor-in-Chief, Joy Donnell, chats with fashion entrepreneur Chekwas Okafor to discover how his retail ecommerce space, ONYCHEK curates African luxury fashion. As part of Joy’s Diversity is the New Luxury series, Chekwas shares how ONYCHEK.com is helping conscious luxury consumers discover top luxury goods made entirely on the African continent.

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Onychek.com Founder, Chekwas Okafor, is telling the story of African innovation through luxury fashion made on the continent.

“By default, African brands are conscious brands,” asserts Chekwas Okafor, Founder of retail ecommerce space ONYCHEK.com. The online retailer specializes in curating and showcasing luxury brands that are truly ‘Made in Africa’. These brands preserve culture and help African economies by positively impacting the artisans who make these goods.

Some of ONYCHEK’s designers include Nairobi, Kenya-made jewelry from Adele Dejak, South African menswear brand MaXhosa by Laduma, South African accessories line Legacy Collection, Sawa shoes made in Ethiopia and Christie Brown hailing from Accra, Ghana. Chekwas and ONYCHEK focus on these distinct African brands to create visibility and opportunity for entrepreneurs and craftspeople on the continent.

Chekwas explains, “Brands that make their products on the continent are conscious brands. They think about their supply chains and that puts us in the right position for consumers that are more conscious and care about how their products are made.”

Made in South Africa: This MaXhosa by Laduma handknit sweater is available on Onychek.com or $230 US.

Made in South Africa: This MaXhosa by Laduma handknit sweater is available on ONYCHEK.com or $230 US.

The young fashion entrepreneur realized that although high-quality, ethical luxury fashions are being designed and fabricated throughout the African continent, little was being done to help these designers tell their stories on a global stage and showcase their goods in a well-positioned way.

“I wanted to focus on luxury because that’s where most of the magic is happening,” Chekwas explains as he details why he’s using fashion to spread the message of innovation of Africa. “Designers are telling incredible stories that weave in culture. The world will understand us a lot more, and understand we’re here, by starting with luxury. Luxury fashion made in Africa is our major value proposition.”

The Bogolan Jacket by Ghanaian designer Christie Brown retails on Onychek.com for $350 US.

The Bogolan Jacket by Ghanaian designer Christie Brown retails on ONYCHEK.com for $350 US.

Before venturing into the online retail space, Chekwas knew that it would be imperative to combat preconceived notions that ‘Made in Africa‘ means low quality or that the clothes should be low in price.

For Chekwas, retailers must be committed to telling the story. “It’s all perception. It’s the perception over time. People assume that ‘Made in Africa’ means low quality. For that to change, it’s going to take a while. It’s our responsibility as retailers to market the brands and position them in such a way that it starts to change that thought. Just talking about it won’t work.”

Visitors to ONYCHEK.com will find beautiful editorial photos alongside brand stories and product details that give insight into how these carefully curated clothes and accessories are made. This way, consumers can better understand the quality, design and pricing of these handcrafted goods.

By honoring the brand story and nurturing respect, ONYCHEK.com further generates demand. This is part of the retailer responsibility that Chekwas takes on with pride and vigor.

To find out more about the Diversity is the New Luxury series by Joy Donnell, visit JOY DONNELL OFFICIAL.

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