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Africa Will Make It!

African fashion is unquestionably fast becoming a credible source of inspiration, a centre for innovative creativity, and, most importantly, a potential key catalyst for Africa’s economy. The fast pace of technology in international fashion quickly redefines the industry landscape, thus creating significant challenges to be faced. My goal as an African fashion advocate is to ensure that we maintain a global standing in this industry by anticipating these challenges and creatively addressing them head-on. Based on detailed research I have carried out over the last two years, a transparent consistent structure is much needed for the African fashion industry. While widespread organisations have “sprung up” in the last few years in Africa and the diaspora, to enable a functionality within the industry, the need for a voice that stands for the development of African fashion business is long overdue.

The research highlighted that it is paramount for the development of the industry to raise a revolution of designers of the highest standard and, most importantly, to avoid critically damaging potential designers by staging them in the numerous “value” fashion weeks springing up around the world, which do nothing more to add value to the designer or the African fashion industry. It is important to highlight that development in fashion is not only about showcasing, but also supporting designers in their transition and business.

I believe an international structure will place African fashion in a balanced process through which it can begin to compete on the same level as the rest of the world. The industry is evidently lucrative and perhaps the answer to further development in Africa. I have also pinpointed specific challenges that the industry faces. First, I identified a need to attract more young managerial talent and, second, realised the need for the continent to continue to enhance its standing as a hub of innovation for specialty “handmade in Africa” goods. As international luxury brands continue to expand their presence on the continent, consumers now have more choice than ever, and local brands will have to work harder to stay in the game.

The African fashion industry is potentially worth billions of dollars to the continent’s economy and would make a vital contribution to the global reputation of Africa as a leader in creative excellence. Much more can be done to drive the sector forward and contribute to a much-needed growth for the African economy.

In my report ”Fashion Revolution for Africa,” which I will share in the next few weeks, I lay out a regulated vision for the sector, identifying areas that I believe have great potential. I also highlight the actions required to ensure this potential is met, spanning skills, training, education, job creation, talent development, retail, manufacturing and investment. The considerations offer inspiration and hope for the future of this great industry and for the African economy. I am confident that the fashion industry will continue to be a critical driver of innovation, good jobs and investment in Africa for years to come. Africa will make it!

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