Fashion weeks in Africa

 Fashion weeks are usually synonymous with 4 cities…New York, London, Milan and Paris (which is the finale of the fashion calendar for this FW14 season).  But truth be told Fashion weeks are happening everywhere. Much more than you think. Including many African cities.

 Over 20 fashion weeks/events were held in multiple cities from Lagos to Cape Town in 2013.  Find a complete list here.

 Having attended a few of the fashion weeks last year, I walked away with some ideas and thoughts which I’d like to share.

 Doing it for ourselves

It’s obvious that the recent mushrooming of fashion weeks in Africa is directly linked to entrepreneurial efforts much like New York Fashion week started as a press week organized by a fashion publicist. And I just love it because that in itself is a message of innovation and creativity.  

 Don’t make the mistake of comparing (or having expectations)

Each fashion week offers a different experience. The scale of each event mainly comes down to the organizers, sponsorships and  ‘economic shape’ of respective countries.

 No seasons to speak of.

Fashion weeks happen annually (with the exception of South Africa) and there are no Fall/Winter collections to speak of -  which is just practical. After all our seasons are more about the dry season and the rainy season.

 African fashion does not equate to African Print

Fact. Not all Designers use African Print. Just in case you wondered. (Although I think a conversation on what IS African fashion-i.e how do we define it, how do we describe it, what does it mean…..is worthwhile. Perhaps in the next ‘thought-sharing’blog. )

 Business of Fashion

The purpose of fashion weeks is really business. And therein lies lots of opportunity and potential for development. Fashion brands need to be built, consumer markets need to be developed, Fashion retail needs to expand, sales channel need to be created etc., etc.

 Racial diversity

100% black everything on the runway. No issue. But we need to ensure that the top African models are working these events. Models are making a comeback in general and African fashion weeks can build on this.

 Artisanal Capacity

Africa has it in fashion terms.  The ability to craft, the skill to weave, embroider, and do beadwork…create from a vast historical tradition of culture and ritual into the future.  Luxury fashion has always incorporated the work of the artisan in its creations. 

The Fashion story

There is an opportunity to drive (much harder) the storytelling, the context and explanation of the vision of brands and designs by designers in Africa and everybody involved in creating, developing, sustaining, imagining, uplifting Fashion in Africa. There must be a compelling story to survive in a market let alone a global fashion market. And Africa has many unique stories.

This is the BEST time to be a Creative in Africa. Everything is emerging, emergent…. Which means that there are NO expectations, NO rules, NO limitations on creativity. Add to this history, diversity, culture, tradition, ritual, sounds, smells, textures, textiles, natural landscapes etc. as a source of inspiration/s. Plus technology. Feels like a pretty potent combination…. 

Let’s refashion Africa.

For more, check out this , this or this.

Fashion weeks in Africa
 Fashion weeks are usually synonymous with 4 cities…New York, London, Milan and Paris (which is the finale of the fashion calendar for this FW14 season).  But truth be told Fashion weeks are happening everywhere. Much more than you think. Including many African cities.
 Over 20 fashion weeks/events were held in multiple cities from Lagos to Cape Town in 2013.  Find a complete list here.
 Having attended a few of the fashion weeks last year, I walked away with some ideas and thoughts which I’d like to share.
 Doing it for ourselves
It’s obvious that the recent mushrooming of fashion weeks in Africa is directly linked to entrepreneurial efforts much like New York Fashion week started as a press week organized by a fashion publicist. And I just love it because that in itself is a message of innovation and creativity.  
 Don’t make the mistake of comparing (or having expectations)
Each fashion week offers a different experience. The scale of each event mainly comes down to the organizers, sponsorships and  ‘economic shape’ of respective countries.
 No seasons to speak of.
Fashion weeks happen annually (with the exception of South Africa) and there are no Fall/Winter collections to speak of -  which is just practical. After all our seasons are more about the dry season and the rainy season.
 African fashion does not equate to African Print
Fact. Not all Designers use African Print. Just in case you wondered. (Although I think a conversation on what IS African fashion-i.e how do we define it, how do we describe it, what does it mean…..is worthwhile. Perhaps in the next ‘thought-sharing’blog. )
 Business of Fashion
The purpose of fashion weeks is really business. And therein lies lots of opportunity and potential for development. Fashion brands need to be built, consumer markets need to be developed, Fashion retail needs to expand, sales channel need to be created etc., etc.
 Racial diversity
100% black everything on the runway. No issue. But we need to ensure that the top African models are working these events. Models are making a comeback in general and African fashion weeks can build on this.
 Artisanal Capacity
Africa has it in fashion terms.  The ability to craft, the skill to weave, embroider, and do beadwork…create from a vast historical tradition of culture and ritual into the future.  Luxury fashion has always incorporated the work of the artisan in its creations. 
The Fashion story
There is an opportunity to drive (much harder) the storytelling, the context and explanation of the vision of brands and designs by designers in Africa and everybody involved in creating, developing, sustaining, imagining, uplifting Fashion in Africa. There must be a compelling story to survive in a market let alone a global fashion market. And Africa has many unique stories.
This is the BEST time to be a Creative in Africa. Everything is emerging, emergent…. Which means that there are NO expectations, NO rules, NO limitations on creativity. Add to this history, diversity, culture, tradition, ritual, sounds, smells, textures, textiles, natural landscapes etc. as a source of inspiration/s. Plus technology. Feels like a pretty potent combination…. 
Let’s refashion Africa.
For more, check out this , this or this. High-res