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Ciku Kimeria
Writer, Adventurer, Development Consultant, Travelblogger
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piqer: Ciku Kimeria
Monday, 09 July 2018

What Does African Fashion Need In Order To Thrive?

As a lover of African fashion and design, I am always surprised by how relatively unknown African fashion is outside of the continent. To complicate matters, sometimes such fashion does not even traverse borders within the continent. Most of the lovely and unique clothes, bags, shoes and jewelry that I have stumbled across was during my trips through various cities such as Addis Ababa, Accra, Dar es Salaam, Dakar, Nairobi, Ouagadougou and others. 

[Naomi] Campbell may have had a point about looking at fashion from a more pan-African perspective in order to increase the industry’s reach. The debate around whether Africa needs its own Vogue highlighted the continent’s talent, but also the struggles that designers have in creating a lucrative retail business beyond their fashion week moment.

Building a large enough local thriving fashion market in the different cities has been difficult. The types of numbers that are needed for most designers to run profitable fashion houses really depends on accessing a larger regional and global market. A few designers have been successful in doing this, mostly by getting British or American celebrities to wear their designs. 
Beyoncé has also been spotted in Kisua, catapulting the online boutique’s profile. Meaning “well-dressed” in kiSwahili, Kisua was started in 2013 by Ghanaian Sam Mensah Jr., a former banker. From the beginning, Kisua’s presence online was fundamental to the brand’s success as a pan-African label. Kisua now boasts distribution centers in the US, Europe and Africa, along with physical boutiques and pop-up shops in South Africa.

While it's great that all major African cities now have their own fashion weeks, connectivity and linking to markets is the next step. Once this major issue of increasing distribution networks and sales points for African fashion is addressed, then African fashion will finally get the prominence it deserves. 

What Does African Fashion Need In Order To Thrive?
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