The 84-page Unesco report was announced as major fashion houses and brands showed interest in Africa. Last December, Chanel held its annual Métiers d’Art show in Senegal during Dakar Fashion Week; It is Chanel’s first show in Africa and the first show staged in Sub-Saharan Africa by a global luxury fashion house. That same month, Dior held its men’s pre-fall show in front of the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Beyond these high-profile events, the report highlights the broad scale of the textile and garment manufacturing industry. Egypt, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco and Tunisia produce products mostly for global mainstream fashion brands.
Outside the continent, a number of events on African design, craftsmanship and textiles are highlighted. Held in conjunction with Milan Fashion Week, Italy’s Afro Fashion Week Milan provides an international platform for emerging African, Afro-descendant and Afro-inspired designers. In Paris, the African Fashion Up initiative launched by digital content platform Share Africa has launched an incubation program supported by companies such as Balenciaga and Galeries Lafayette.
Opportunities and challenges for African fashion
The biggest obstacle to the development of Africa’s fashion industry is the lack of investment. Designers often look outside the continent for support. For luxury and premium brands, the emergence of specialist investment company Birian Ventures, which launched in 2020, is promising. Prizes can also help: Nigerian designer Adeju Thompson, founder of the Lagos Space Programme, says winning the AU$200,000 (£107,000) International Woolmark Prize in May was a game changer. “There’s a lot I want to do right now in terms of growing my company, hiring more people, and buying better machinery,” he said. Vogue Business In that case.
Much larger sums are required for infrastructure investments, such as helping to process raw materials such as cotton. Another problematic point is limited data and resources. Without accurate data, it is difficult to measure growth in the creative industry and understand how it contributes to the wider economy. Unesco is exploring how to better document the development of the fashion industry; The report itself represents a starting point.
Improving digitalization in many African countries has made it easier for businesses to operate online and through social media channels. E-commerce penetration in Africa has increased from 13 percent of consumers in 2017 to 28 percent in 2021, allowing brands to reach African consumers as well as connect with international markets.
Broader sustainability goal
The impact of fast fashion on Africa remains a major challenge. The African continent receives a third of all second-hand exports, which has an inevitable impact on local ecosystems and creation. According to the report, imported second-hand clothes are taking a large part of the domestic fashion market away from local designers and businesses. “Fast fashion has produced and continues to produce disasters both in fast fashion producing countries and in Africa,” says Toussaint Tiendrebeogo, secretary of the Unesco 2005 convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.