Sarah Diouf is my favorite apparel designer and motivational Instagrammer.
She launched Tongoro Studio in 2016 and makes no secret of how tirelessly she has worked and (continues to work) to make it one of the most talked about brands coming out of Africa at the moment. In her own words, Tongoro Studio is “a 100% Made In Africa label providing clothing that offers style-conscious consumers quality, variety and convenience, at affordable prices.” To me, though, it is so much more.
It has to be said that often, the industry’s treatment of products “Made in Africa” has a patronizing tone and feels like a Westerner’s on a goodwill mission. Sarah’s designs are so good, her connection to the continent is so rooted in love that her mission to boost production in Africa is just a matter of fact, and not some charity case.
Now, let’s talk about her designs. In short: magnificent, all around.
The Tongoro signature is voluminous designs with prints that call back to its Dakar, Senegal roots that are, in a delightful twist, rendered in breezy chiffons and fluid cottons. The Ngor dress is a simple, off-the shoulder style with balloon sleeves that makes for a great pool cover up or summer date-night look. The Zanzi ensemble is a all-around dream; A loose kimono duster. A tie front crop top. High-waisted wide leg trousers with pockets. Ugh! It’s my ideal vacation wear (though, in my dream life, I’m in a tropical climate, so I’d be in crop tops and chiffons year-round).
If following Tongoro Studio on Instagram is buying into the dream of being on holiday year-round, then Sarah’s personal Instagram is a visually stunning testament to all the non-stop work and sacrifices it takes to build that easy-breezy lifestyle brand. Peppered between images of her designs premiering at Lagos Fashion week or a clipping from a Vogue write-up are Sarah’s testimonials about the doubts she has dealt with, her collection editing process, her identity struggles, the importance and power of self-reliance, and the incomparable joy of having one of your biggest dreams come true. Sarah is no stranger to hard work and her lofty ambitions demand it of her. In sharing all of this, Sarah is inviting us to dream on a grand scale and do absolutely everything required to see it to fruition. Tongoro Studio’s pieces are a treat for the body and Sarah’s words are a gift for the soul.
To paraphrase Kanye, to be a fan of Tongoro Studio is to also be a fan of yourself.