Major designers have always been inspired by African textiles and beadwork. Last spring the collections of Diane von Furstenburg, Oscar de la Renta and Roberto Cavalli featured tribal patterns and other African influences. African designers, however, haven’t been able to penetrate the U.S. fashion market. But this year, with the election of Barack Obama as the first black president, several African designers are seizing their opportunity. Keep reading for more details.As part of the African Fashion Collective, four labels–Xuly Bet by Malian designer Lamine Badian Kouyate, Tiffany Amber by Nigeria’s Folake Coker, Momo by Nigeria’s Fati Asibelua and Stoned Cherrie by South Africa’s Nkhensani Nkosi–are showing Fall 2009 collections at New York Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. “I do think that the timing couldn’t be better because there is that kind of euphoria over having a president of African origin,” said Nkosi to Reuters. And the fact that Michelle Obama is considered a style icon hasn’t hurt their chances for international exposure either. All she has to do at this point is mention one of these designers and fashion buyers will be clamoring to place orders. The African Fashion Collective’s debut is hopefully a sign that the fashion world is becoming more inclusive. As we saw last year with Italian Vogue‘s Black issue, black designers, models and industry folk are rarely at the forefront of the fashion world.