Africa clothing comes in diverse forms of colored textiles, embroidered designs, beaded robes, weaved, dyeing piece, printed fabrics, etc. We as a continent express our fashion in many elements and somehow our cultures and identity are represented in these pieces.
The elements embodied in Africa has been a source of idealization, and creativity capitalizing on them to sell and make most things in society.
It is clear that Africa’s symbolism, pattern, fabrics, etc. inspire Fashion in the western world but somehow Africa designers are not highly represented in the global fashion industry.
In recent times, there has been a pool of creatives and talents from jewel designers, to photographers, to furniture designers, to fashion designers, etc. There has been an outpour of homegrown talents displaying diversity and creativity of the region. These talents have birthed hub of unapologetic fashion statements representing Africa’s bold colors, its rich prints, etc. Although these talents have attracted global press and international clientele. African have little or no market share in the fashion industry.
Few African designers like Xuly Bet who reigned in the early 1990s showcasing the Malian heritage through his clothing and Ozwald Boateng who took the menswear-tailoring scene by storm, there are just but few names to praise. How do we own the majority of the fashion ideation in the world yet we own few names to the industry
Our patterns, symbols in prints, colors, are used to create fashion pieces and designs, which are cat-walked across runaway both at home and worldwide from Paris, to London to New York to China to Milan. Clearly the elements embedded in the Africa fashion is powerful and useful, however the praise and its ownership are being attributed to other people, not the African people.
What is the fundamental cause of this menace? African fashions are at advantage over their counterparts in the other parts of the world because we are not afraid and have the technical expertise on how to combine our colors, patterns, symbols, and that talent puts us ahead. Nevertheless, what we lack is to be ahead in the business fashion. Why is our fashion not kicking Paris and Milan out of the way, well the problem is as complex as our African patterns and designs itself. Alternatively, is it a question for the gods to answer? No, we as a people must answer.
At the long haul, it is the business aspect of fashion that makes one relevant in the industry. We are already on the path of getting our patterns right, making beautiful patches of identity and telling the African story through interwoven designs and fabrics. That gift no one can take it away from us. Clear evidence is how high profile people expressed their love for African clothing. Michelle Obama and Beyoncé in recent time worn Nigeria Label Maki Oh, quite an impressive mark, but how do we as a continent penetrate the fashion business world and stand shoulder high with the others.
According to reports by Euro monitor, ”the Sub- Saharan Africa’s clothing and footwear market is worth $31 billion”. Such a huge money venture industry but how do we make this a reality:
- Let wear our own: A Made in Paris is likely to sell more than a Made in Africa, although our designs are made with full quality, designated efforts and can compete with other fashion giants we as most African have refused to wear our own or buy our own. We often prefer to wear and buy western items instead of ours. How do we convince others how worthy our items are if we don’t wear them or show the pride in them.
- Investments: The Global fashion giants have great eyes and detailing for investments. Their businesses are designed to accommodate ventures for investments. Investors highly consider whether a business or brand design has an aesthetic with a unique selling proposition and if it resonates with global growth or compete with international brands.
At the end of the road, the beauty, colors, pattern, etc. of fashion is secondary, the ultimate is the ability for the brand to yield significant “ROI “for the investors.
Although the African fashion market, needs quality of investment to develop the couture world and skills, The designers on the other hands need to be efficiently equipped, with more modern machines as well as sharpening their skills to be able to stand out in the global marketplace.
Although there are potential, designers who are likely to climb unto the global fashion space soon, these key factors need to be considered.
African loving their products and wearing them with joy. Providing platforms that can support investments to boost the industry. Although few names like Robert Annan has created such platforms, her platform is geared with 100-million euro investment funds, which seek to leapfrog Africa into the global market.
Our fashion elements which included our bold colors, creative patterns, weaved fabrics, etc. helps make us stand out as a continent but the designers, however, needs to be highly equipped sharpen their skills with sophisticated machinery to be able to match their competitors
Also, having the ability to sell their brand as a luxurious business that can resonate with global standards. It is safe to say African fashion is bound to rise and kick global brands into muddy waters; however it depends on us as a continent it all boils down to us, Africa.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Photo Credit : google image/illustration