Senegalese fashion designer Sarah Diouf, whose Tongoro designs were catapulted to fame after being spotted on Beyonce, has vowed to to expand production in Senegal and train local tailors to translate her brand’s success into jobs for artisans.
Founded in 2016, Tongoro is a ready-to-wear label dedicated to the development of Senegal. The label made headlines last year when Beyonce wore Tongoro patterned dresses and wide-leg pants on vacation in Italy last year.
The 31-year-old Dakar-based designer was then asked to make a custom design for Beyonce, who wore a Tongoro suit and dressed her dancers in its jewellery in her “Spirit” music video for “The Lion King” film.
The Senegalese capital of Dakar is known for its vibrant fashion scene but most tailors are self-taught, work on street corners and have no way to reach a wider customer base.
Rising demand for “Made in Africa” fashion has not yet benefited many people in Senegal, according to Sarah Diouf, who employs only seven tailors so far. With more local training and online sales, she thinks Senegal’s clothing industry can grow.
Sarah Diouf said: “For me, the Beyonce storyline is opening the conversation and opening doors.
“We have so much talent, but I think we just need a little bit more structure to take it to the next level.”
By sourcing its materials from across the African continent and working with local tailors, Tongoro’s long-term goal is to create “a new dynamic for Africa-based manufacturing”, as well as foster the economic and social development of artisanal workers in Western Africa.
After Tongoro was featured in Elle and Vogue magazines, Sarah Diouf recognised its potential to sell worldwide. She plans to scale up next year and eventually open a production facility with 100 to 150 tailors.
She added: “It’s very important for me to create an ecosystem where everyone can benefit from what I do.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com