African fashion is the way forward post Covid-19
The African fashion industry was pretty underrated in the past, however since the world went into lockdown and the fashion industry went on pause, or shifted to digital fashion shows, the African fashion industry has finally had more attention. The entire industry was vulnerable after being affected by the pandemic; African designers were slightly more vulnerable.
Back in June, over a hundred African fashion designers, communicators and enthusiasts worked alongside digital experts all over Africa on Fashionomics Africa’s webinar series. The initiative was launched by the African Development Bank Group to help create more jobs as well as grow the fashion industry in local communities, the project has been estimated to be worth $31 billion. For this to work, there were discussions on using more digital solutions to help fashion businesses transition into a post covid-19 world.
Most of the time, these designers rely on customers coming into a physical store and buying something; in house production, physical shows with an audience, and gaining a following are a few of the other factors that African designers have depended on to run their businesses. Whilst a lot of us in the west are used to shopping online and next day delivery, Africa is still yet to catchup. Due to last mile delivery charges and an ongoing effort to start raw material production domestically, which would close down manufacturing.
The overall consensus now, African designers and creatives need to start taking advantage of newer technologies and the internet!
In Africa, physical stores have always been the norm. Before coronavirus, designers who didn’t have an online shopping option or weren’t part of a network of store networks that were their own, have had to rely on retailers to spread their business further. On the other hand, the retailers depend on the brands to attract new customers and an audience. Both designers and retailers have had to rethink their strategies and how they can adapt.
Now the push is for everyone to digitalise. Aisha Ayensu, who is the creative director of Ghanaian brand Christie Brown, has spoken about how “we can’t stress the relevance of having a strong digital presence enough. These [wouldn’t have] happened if the pandemic hadn’t intruded. It has shown how resilient we are in the face of progress.”
E-commerce is growing more and more; digitalising fashion shows has helped progress this and attract a bigger audience a lot quicker. Designer Anifa Mvuemba has helped lead this initiative by creating 3D models to send down a virtual runway.
The movements in the west are also helping African designers a lot, take the Black Lives Matter movement, which has helped more African designers be brought into the spotlight. This global movement has attracted a lot of attention, so much there is now funding for helping local artists. African designers are now hoping that the movement leads to a permanent change and more representation, not only in their own companies, but in the fashion industry as a whole.