Building Africa’s Multi Billion Dollar Fashion Industry
Globally, fashion is a $1.5 trillion dollar industry. It employs approximately millions of people. Those working in the fashion industry may not see it, but are making vital contributions to the global economy and impacting lives of billions of people around the world — standing ovation.
As it relates to building the fashion industry in Africa, a continent seen as needing much aid and contributions from charitable givers, we believe there is so much potential.
However, to begin in the development process, we realized that consumer’s (especially in the US) perception of Africa must change. In our eyes, the process of rebranding, first, had to occur in the mentality of our targeted audience. Our main objective -our drive behind any marketing performed- was based on the thought-value that Africa should be viewed as a land of opportunity, not a subject of world pity.We believe in Africa’s constituents ability to contribute to the global economy, however we also knew that emerging as well as established brands from Africa needed partnerships and business opportunities, in order to flourish. In order to create opportunity we had to identify what would peak the interests of US investors, consumers, and partners. One example, was the heavy interest in Nigeria, which contains 10% of Africa’s population appeared to be of interest, a portal — the-go-to-market –for foreign brands thinking of entering into Africa or attracting that demographic of consumers.
Nigeria earlier last year (2014) made headlines when the value of its economy doubled. Officials re-calculated the gross domestic product (GDP) using a different approach for the first time in 24 years. Nigeria’s GDP – $509 billion, now including the booming film (Nollywood) and telecommunications industries – has now become the largest in Africa, and the 26th biggest in the world.
- Africa is the fastest growing and most youthful population (over 60 % of the population is currently younger than 25 years) there is plenty of physical and intellectual resource available. What are you doing about it?
- Africa has been experiencing speedy economic growth. Between 2012 and 2013, 5 of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa. How are you positioning your products and services?
- 10% of Africa’s population is concentrated in Nigeria. Willing workforce and potential customers?
- 16 – to 34 age group accounts for 53% of Africa’s income . Considering the youth is vital in the development of any business/marketing plan in Africa.
We noticed a steady increase in inquiries from international clients, after we (team Adiree ) completed our 2014 Africa Fashion Week installation. After we worked with a few of Nigeria’s hottest emerging fashion designers and brands during New York’s 2014 edition of Africa Fashion Week and increasingly received acknowledgment and various forms of media recognition from entrepreneurs in a recent article from Reuters, we wanted to take a closer look at the relevance of developing Africa’s Fashion Industry globally in addition to locally. We also wanted to evaluate some of the key drivers in its development, some in particular that we use– communications and social media.
Changes in Africa’s fashion industry are due to global developments, both economical change and a communication change. More African-owned media platforms such as Face2FaceAfrica are providing the world with a different perspective on Africa through its news site and because of social media platforms such as Instagram, people in the US and Internationally have access to viewing other cultures and brands in other countries more easily than before.
The marketing and communications platform that Adiree founded in 2019 : Africa Fashion Week (in fashion capitals) concept, leveraged the aforementioned forms of marketing and communications, reaching millions of people through mainstream media , events, and social media. Note, this was only with our New York installation.
During New York Fashion Week, one of Africa’s regarded fashion events and the first of its kind takes place yearly. Africa Fashion Week New York, spices up the fashion capital of the world and serves up diversity. Over the past 5 years, 70 percent of participating fashion designers were based in Africa, the remaining from UK and the US. With past partners such as the USAID, BMW (New Jersey), Iman Cosmetics, etc, it has become a staple, a home for global market players surrounding the sector.
As important is the reason for providing Africa Fashion Week, as a platform in fashion capitals such as New York. The platform is used to build Africa and US relations in the apparel/fashion sector, increase awareness of Africa’s premier brands and subsequently, increase consumer demand for culturally authentic brands. All of which provides emerging designers in the diaspora as well as on the continent international appeal and business traction. Not to mention, providing US investors and businesses an opportunity to identify key stakeholders and potential partners coming from Africa.
However 2014’s Africa Fashion Week in New York 2014 began to further define its voice and strategy. Separating itself from most fashion-focused events taking place during New York’s Fashion Week, the event primarily focused on the global development of Africa’s creative entrepreneurs as better integrating its platform with the fashion calendar. The goal? Increase business opportunities for participating designers as well as open discussions for investing in Africa’s Fashion Industry.
In 2014 Adiree, the management team behind the production worked with partners and sponsors such as Black Opal, United Nations Foundation Arik Airline, Spice Africa Television, Africa.com, and CCTV . A few of the benefactors of these relationships included Nigerian Fashion Designers Anaba Wisdom of Wiez Dhurm Franklyn and Igwedinma Rodney Emeka of McMeka, who were received exceptionally well by New York’s audience. Let’s take another savory look at some of the many looks that blazed the runway, and most-likely, warmed every global fashionistas’ heart:
Igwedinma Rodney Emeka of Mcmeka at Africa Fashion Week, New York
Anaba Wisdom of Wiez Dhurm Franklyn at Africa Fashion Week, New York
Partners such as the United Nations Foundation, hosted Africa Fashion Week via its master class “Off The Runway.” The event hosted 7 entrepreneurs in various fields (finance, media, public relations, law, design, and technology), sharing their global knowledge with budding entrepreneurs looking to participate in Africa’s Fashion Industry.
Again, the goal of Africa Fashion Week (in Fashion Capital’s concept) is to re-brand consumer’s mind towards Africa and position it as a continent that also produces luxury products and services, much like its European counterparts.As at 2012, the success of the show since its conception had increased awareness of African fashion by 8.5 million views, generated financing for designers and artisans marketing initiative, and created 100 jobs. By December 2013, $300,000 had been generated for African designers and artisans to showcase in the U.S.
The premiere of the event, the Africa Fashion Week, New York has attracted more than 1,500 industry insiders. It had also secured the support and proclamation from the office of then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who emphasized the event would promote tourism to New York with 70 percent of designers coming directly from Africa, thereby further fostering a relationship between the U.S. and Africa.
Fast forward to the present and all those achievements have, if nothing else doubled, a testament of which is its joining of the New York Fashion Week. Make no mistake about the significance of this; New York is arguably the world’s epic entre of business, fashion and art, and right at the centre of New York will be Africa.
As for the local African scene, Fashion Weeks like Lagos Fashion & Design Week, under the auspice of the Creative Director Omoyemi Akerele, is also a sizzling platform for all emerging designers ready to ignite the Nigerian Fashion Industry.
Involving more than just runway shows, the platform provides support through the British Fashion Council programme – a year-long program aimed at developing the Nigerian Fashion Industry.
Also, under a competition, selected participants had opportunities to engage in many opportunities such as workshops focused on building retail ready brands for the business of fashion, a Presentation at Guaranty Trust Bank Lagos Fashion and Design Week,
Adding wood to the fiery platform were title sponsors Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and other sponsors such as Maybelline (Nigeria) and Fayrouz Nigeria Ltd.
Sparking digital conversations with constant updates from the runway and capturing stylish guests were media partners such as Haute Fashion Africa, Wings Magazine, Ono Bello and Style Vitae.
To Be Continued………