With a vast array of designers making fashion statements with rich colours that represent the beauty of the continent’s various cultures, Africa has put itself on the global map of fashion.
African designs are being modelled on major runways both on the local and global scene. Our luxury and mid-market segments are the most pronounced, but we still have several brands that make items (en masse) for majority of users across the continents.
Research identifies that while fashion designers across the continent are getting exposure and more people are getting aware of the industry, challenges like funding still stand in the way of wider growth.
Global brands like J. Crew, Burberry, and Michael Kors oftentimes look towards the African space for inspiration and ideas.
As a result, the fashion industry is contributing to African economies creating jobs for several people, not just fashion designers. In Nigeria for example, data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), indicates that “textile, apparel, and footwear” sector has averaged growth of 17% since 2010 and this is true as more shows are popping up, like the notable Lagos Fashion Week.
All this points to the fact that the African fashion space is about to reach new heights. However, poor funding stands in the way.
The global fashion industry is worth over $2.5 trillion, with Africa accounting for less than 1% of the value.
One of the ways the African fashion space can crack this and increase their value is by ensuring that credit (funding) is available. Credit solutions are particularly crucial to the sector and the available ones are clearly not sufficient.
Funds like the Vlisco Fashion Fund and the African Fashion Fund are part of the few fashion-focused venture capitals that promise to help African fashion brands grow their business. Those, plus the traditional credit facilities like banks and flexible government grants.
It is a fact that if the fashion industry in Africa is to fully develop, it needs more support from fund capitals and governments alike.
For example, the African Development Bank and the Rwandan government launched a “foundation to establish garment factories and boost the textile and fashion industries.” Nigeria also has a 1-billion-naira Fashion Fund aimed at supporting the fashion value chain.
More of those need to be put in place. If that is done, more external investments will come into the continent. All of which are needed for the industry to maximize its potential.