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Addressing Bias in African Fashion

By Cheyenne Daniels

For many people, especially those who identify as people of color, finding their voice often seems unattainable. This is due to oppression by the people who see themselves as superior to others. As a result of this, the ideas, thoughts, and beliefs of many talented people go unnoticed or ignored. As a way to try and release their subdued voices, people look to fashion as it serves as an expression of one’s individuality. Fashion has become a way for silenced people to demand their voices to be heard. Therefore, the fashion industry needs to address the biases that exist in order to create an environment that promotes the innovative identity of Africa.

Bias can appear very different depending on the situation and environment. Unconscious bias is predetermined judgments formed in the mind without the person even realizing it. Unconscious bias can be formed on the basis of gender, race, financial status, sexuality, and age, among other differences. The impact of unconscious bias could lead to the lack of resources or funding available for smaller lesser-known fashion companies. Media also plays a critical role in promoting bias. Young fashion brands may not receive any media attention due to the area they are located in or the gender of people that manage the brands. The ignorance of large companies or media does not contribute to the growth of the African fashion industry. It is vital that brands in Africa become more concerned about bias and make the effort to reduce them. There are thousands of brilliant companies that have the potential to grow tremendously, but go unnoticed. Addressing biases that have been formed, can give these companies a voice and contribute to the overall growth of the fashion industry within Africa.

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