Wandile Tevin Andrews
Africa's influence on global fashion has continued to accelerate, powered by growing digital connectivity and Covid-19 driving innovation in the face of trade and travel restrictions. Cross-cultural collaborations and digital innovations are helping to advance African fashion on the global stage while preserving local heritage and identity.
Over the years, we have seen fashion brands become the billboards for corporate ideas that have shaped the minds of generations and taken entire industries into new directions. Fashion is the medium through which brands communicate their messages to their intended audiences. It is the product of the imagination and work of teams of individuals who remain curious in the face of challenges, continuously seeking newer and louder ways to convey their brand messages.
In the West, we have seen notable collaborations from Crocs x Christopher Kane in the Spring of 2017, Moncler Genius in 2018, to the current SKIMSXFENDI and also UGG and Telfar breaking forth. The western world of fashions list of notable collaborations runs the gamut of pure creativity and profitably.
Africa has had its fair share of notable collaborations. Some notable South African fashion collaborations have included:
Mantsho x HM in 2019
A first of its kind collaboration on the African continent, this collaboration explored creative cuts, bold prints while celebrating the beauty of women and the vibrant aesthetics of Africa through colour and texture.
Rich Mnisi X Coca-Cola in 2018 (CokeThreds)
The Earth-shattering culmination of Coca-Cola's distinct brand colours and the edge and flow of Rich Mnisi's design flair, this signature collection was influenced by uniquely South African experiences. Other brands that formed a part of this collaboration included S.G.O.D (Styla Gang Original Designs), SOL-SOL and Maylee.
David Tlale X TASTIC Rice in 2019
The South African design pioneer David Tlale teamed up with Tiger Brands for a one-of-a-kind collaboration that celebrated African Heritage through the merging of two iconic brands that have become a part of the social fabric of South Africa.
South African Fashion Week x Woolworths in 2016
A pivotal moment to remember in the development of the South African fashion industry was the partnership between retail giant Woolworths SA and South African Fashion Week (SAFW), with the former as an exclusive retail sponsor where South African design talent was supported and fast-tracked from the runway to the rails.
But why are these kinds of collaborations important for African brands and the industry as a whole? A brand collaboration helps both brands to widen their customer base. People who wouldn't usually be part of a brand's target market will be exposed to them. More crucially for fashion brands, collaborations unlock the ability to deliver a collection outside their typical design. As noted above, there has been a surge in fashion brands collaborating in the last year, with the examples outlined in South Africa alone. A successful creative collaboration can generate a serious buzz. The key to any brand success is remaining relevant to the target consumer and resonating with them through culture and consumer needs. This is even more vital in a heavily saturated world of fashion and media.
Collaborations are essential for brands as they enable them to reach a new audience. Aspirational Audiences are those who typically cannot afford Luxury but aspire to the brands. 37% of global consumers fit into this category – a huge audience for brands to be tapping into. Brand Collaborations are enabling brands to create in different sectors they wouldn't traditionally have ventured into. They give them access to a newer (and often younger) audience and often shift the brand market perception.
African stories are ripe and alive with possibility, and it cannot be denied that the lens of the world is always on the lookout for fresh narratives, which the African continent has a plethora of. We can't wait to see what collaborative magic brands cook up next.
Image via Richard Magazine