Ethiopian Fashion Designer Wins African Competition

By Seble Teweldebirhan

Fikirte AddisAddis Ababa, March 31, 2011 ( For most of us Ethiopian s here and abroad, our traditional cloth is beautiful and attractive but not practical and comfortable for day-to-today activities. If we have one, we preferto save it for national holidays and special occasions. The main reason for this is its color, which is mostly white, and its style.

However, nowadays, we are having many young and passionate designers who refuse to label the beautiful pure cotton hand made fabric only for occasional wearing. Designer Fikirte Addisis one of them.

Recently, Fikirte has won a design competition at Origin Africa Fiber to Fashion 2011 held in Mauritius 16-18 March. The main criterion for the competition was comfort and practicality which we complain our traditional cloth lacks.

The competition was part of the two-day symposium and designer show that brought together designers, manufacturers and buyers to the symposium. Agenda items included Green/Eco-friendly, manufacturing practice, new product development and integrating design and market.  The event was the initiative of USAID.

The competition required designers to create compelling designs for the Africa of yesterday, today and tomorrow. 12 African countries were represented by their top designers. Fikirte presented 8 designs which she said were made purely from handmade Ethiopian traditional fabrics.

“I don’t want my designs to lose their traditional touch. I want every one to recognize them as Ethiopian wherever they are seen. At the same time, I do my best to make them comfortable and easy so that they can suit the modern women. My greatest challenge while designing is finding this balance” Fikirte said at a press conference held at USAID office in Addis Ababa this week on Tuesday.

Fikirte Addis ModelCertainly, her designs were found to create this balance. After a tough competition the panel of judges that includedMs. Karalynn Srouse, Vice President of MAGIC International, the world’s largest apparel trade show, and Mr. Jack Kipling, head of the Export Council for the Closing Industry, South Africa, selected her as a winner in the professional designer category, in particular for her practical, simple and creative use of fabrics. 

“It was a tough and exciting competition. Each country brought its own attractive tradition and style. Even I couldn’t choose because all of it was beautiful. It was an amazing experience and I learned a lot.” She said.

Participant countries included Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Madagascar.

As the winner of the Designer Show Case, Fikirte will be attending Africa Fashion Week in New York this coming July.

Born in Addis Ababa, on August 3, 1981, Fikirte is currently one of the top designers in Ethiopia. Though she studied psychology and has a long experience working with children as a psychologist, she did found a time to pursue her burning passion for design.

Her love for designing grew from a hobby to opening her own design line ‘Yefeker Design’ in 2009. Since then, she has worked on many designs for different occasions. She has organized different fashion shows here in the country. She is also known for different fashion shows she organized and participated for fundraising for children in need and campaigning for Child-Labor Conscious fashion.


Seble Teweldebirhan



Seble Teweldebirhan is Addis Ababa based Reporter for She can be reached by sending email through this form.



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