When it comes to fashion, Africa has long been a leading light and a powerful influencer across the globe, thanks to its dynamic prints and quality fabrics.

Now, technology and fashion have joined forces in a project to show how data can transform African cities.

Tech leader Siemens used data from the cities of Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg, and incorporated them into unique fabrics which tell a story about each city.

Three iconic African fashion designers were brought on board to create 12 extraordinary outfits from vast amounts of data extracted from these cities. The designers – Kenya’s John Kaveke, Nigeria’s Zizi Cardow and South Africa’s Palesa Mokubung – were given a chance to use the fabrics and create one-of-a-kind, stylish outfits.

Called the Fabric project, it launched in Johannesburg last week. Fabric aims to showcase how the digitalisation of the industrial world is fast becoming the biggest transformation of our time. The project highlights how data, combined with smart technology, will ensure that tomorrow’s cities are smart cities – more connected, efficient and powered.

The garments that resulted from the project showcase a variety of patterns, from power grids, shipping and tonnage to population densities, transport and areas of connectivity.

Johannesburg-based Mokubung says the project has transformed her thinking. “It opened so many new elements of inspiration. It’s like I am only truly experiencing Johannesburg right now.

“I see the city as more dynamic, with opportunities hidden beneath highways, pipes and houses. I’m forever changed when it comes to what I do and how I see the city.”

Says Keshin Govender, group communications head for Siemens SA: “This is how we wanted to express digitalisation. As urbanisation rapidly increases, cities need to start preparing for the effects it will have on infrastructure, energy, water and transportation systems. This project has highlighted the need for access to data in order to make sound urban planning decisions.