African prints and African inspired fashion have been a feature of runways and high streets in recent years and for many of us in the diaspora a constant feature of our everyday lives. The prominence of African culture across the globe presents an opportunity for the continent to begin to add value to its cultural commodities. The global fashion industry is estimated to be worth about $1.5tr. However, Africa sees very little value in its fashion industry and it is one that remains significantly underdeveloped. This is not for lack of creativity but for lack of investment in the continent’s value chain. For example, the African Development Bank Group suggests “Instead of exporting raw cotton, Africa needs to move to the top of the global value chain and produce garments.” This is compared to developing economies such as Bangladesh and Vietnam who, with robust manufacturing and processing industries are able to design and produce, thus retaining optimum value and billions of dollars within their economies.
The fashion industry has the potential to support development by providing solutions to unemployment and economic diversification. Targeting the fashion industry means targeting the whole value chain – from the smallholder farmers to the fashion designers to manufacturers – at each step more value is added to Africa’s industries.
“Fashion is not just about the colours and the culturally-rich designs on display, but it is also about the change that fashion can bring to the fortunes of African economies.”
Temitayo Ayinla-Omotola – Founder of the Africa Fashion Show Geneva.
Africa is in need of business partnerships to assist in transforming its fashion industry. The FASHIONOMICS SERIES will feature a series of interviews with designers and founders within the diaspora who have established brands inspired by African culture and/or development. I will be exploring the imprint of the African diaspora on Africa’s fashion industry and showcase the businesses and ventures of these amazing individuals and the innovative ways in which they are working to add value to Africa’s fashion industry – from swimwear to eyewear and social enterprise.
Stay tuned for these interviews which I will be posting weekly. Are you subscribed? Make sure you’re subscribed and following me on social media so you’ll be the first to know when these interviews are posted!