Written by Advika Srivastava
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the global fashion industry in many ways. Fashion shows and events have been cancelled and manufacturing factories and brick-and-mortar stores worldwide have been closed. Consumer trends have changed and the fashion industry has had to learn to cater to different consumer needs. Africa’s clothing/textile industry is valued at more than $31 billion; how has the African fashion industry changed and how has it managed to appeal to these changing consumer trends?
Trends already in motion were accelerated by the crisis. Lockdowns and travel restrictions have caused the retail sector to shrink significantly, and even though there has been some recovery after the easing of restrictions, consumers now prefer to shop online, making online shopping the highest growth segment of the fashion industry since Covid began. Additionally, sales of fashion accessories such as hope bracelets, have increased as people have wanted to provide support and appreciation to their loved ones during these difficult times. Social distancing regulations meant that many fashion weeks had to be conducted virtually through social media. Lastly, according to Andrea Rosso (Diesel), the post-pandemic period has been a ‘green’ wake up call for all entrepreneurs since consumers now want to be reassured that the products they purchase are sustainably created.
Even with changes in consumer behaviour and economic topography, African fashion designers remained agile and adaptable. Superbalist, The Folklore, Afrikea, Industrie Africa have all moved into e-commerce, with their own unique collection of Africa’s brightest designers. Congolese designer, Anifa Mvuemba introduced her new collection through a virtual Instagram live fashion show. With the fashion industry changing rapidly, it is essential for fashion designers to leverage tools such as e-commerce, 3D models, augmented reality to name a few. These will shape the future of the African fashion industry.