The global fashion industry, which comprises of various fashion entrepreneurs from all over the world that showcase their creativity, culture and heritage through their designs, is one industry that had been growing over the years. According to statistics the global fashion industry is worth over $2.5 trillion and has created millions of jobs all over the world, from textiles to apparels, and advanced manufacturing.
The African fashion industry was recorded to contribute about 1.3% of the total worth of the global fashion industry. Although many fashion houses and brands have taken a keen interest in African fashion including the wax prints, textiles and many more fabrics that are signature to Africa, there are still challenges that are hindering the pronounced growth of African fashion brands.
So what are the problems facing the growth of African fashion brand both locally and globally?
One of the major problems facing African fashion brands is the fact that most of them don’t have the production capacity to supply large orders. Unlike global fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M that design hundred and thousands of outfits to be sold to customers, most brands in Africa just have a small operation base.
This is due to factors surrounding the manufacturing and operations process, such as electricity shortages which limits the number of outfits that can be produced for a stipulated amount of time.
“Most designers are not yet producing in a large-scale way.” – Nisha Kanabar, the cofounder of Industrie Africa.
The problem of poor infrastructures and policies in the African fashion industry is another factor that is hindering African fashion brands from going global. Without adequate fashion laws to protect designer’s rights from infringement, as well as lack of proper infrastructure, fashion brands in Africa may not be able to compete well with other brands all over the world.
Ethiopia, which is the leather central of Africa, saw remarkable growth in the footwear industry as they earned more than $30 million from the export of shoes in 2015.
“We have a lot of talent, enthusiasm, excitement and drive, but unfortunately, we don’t see enough resources, patience and patronage that will support the growth of African talents out there.” – Thebe Ikalafeng, Founder of Africa Brand Leadership Academy.
How To Correct These Problems
Setting up more legislations, policies and fashion laws to favour African fashion designers by the government would definitely help to improve the African economy while making our fashion brands globally recognized ones.
Also, African brands need to take a distinctive African narrative to the world. Designers shouldn’t need to imitate fully the Western culture to deliver outstanding pieces, but instead, channel their African creativity in their outfits.
“African brands cannot and should not compete with the French on how to be French. They don’t have the authority or authenticity. We need to take a distinct African narrative to the world.” – Thebe Ikalafeng.
Africa is home to the brightest creatives, but without addressing and solving the problems facing the fashion industry, the chances of Africa breaking many boundaries globally becomes limited.