By Eyram Rafael
African fashion has gradually transitioned from being labeled as a fledgling into a force to be reckoned with within the global world of fashion for the fascinating designers on the continent. In comes the splendor and spectacle of Africa’s own fashion weeks; a time for runway shows and presentations by the cream of the crop on the continent. With the world already accustomed to fashion weeks held in the big four; Milan, Paris, New York and London, many often wonder why Africa should have her own fashion weeks and if they are that essential.
Beyond the rush hour of fashion editors, journalists and buyers running from one show to another with sleek melanin rich models strutting down the runway, African fashion weeks do hold a great importance for many reasons;
Fashion Week is Marketing Week.
Initially named “Pressweek” by one of it’s pioneers; Eleanor Lambert, fashion weeks’ framework has always been to showcase and market the latest collections by the industry’s top notch designers. For the African fashion industry who’s indigenous designers are becoming the center of attraction, fashion weeks are more essential as there is a need to continuously market and showcase to the world the rise of amazing, talented and creative designers putting the continent on the map. Fashion week helps designers market their creations through presentations or catwalks. This ensures that stockists and buyers are all connected with the latest collections that will end up in most retail stores.
Attracts international investors, producers, and new consumers.
As an industry estimated to be more than $ 31 billion by the African Development Bank, the African fashion industry is peak and a perfect place to attract international investors. Investors are always eager to find brands and designers that are quick to either create or spot the consumer trends and fashion week is where this hunt really happens. Having African Fashion Weeks attract more international investors to the continent who then finance the production process of these designers leading to greater development for the industry.
Unearthing new fashion talents on the continent.
Considering the numerous amazing fashion talents on the continent, African fashion weeks provide the best platform to discover new designers. As done in other parts of the world, fashion weeks in Africa from Lagos Fashion & Design Week, South Africa Fashion Week down to Arise Fashion Week all have initiatives that award fresh, groundbreaking and up to the minute designers. Arise Fashion Week’s 30 Under 30 contest dubbed “New Stars”, for instance offers exciting financial support accompanied by exposure, mentorship and grants to the winning new designers.
An avenue for social conversations.
Fashion is a constant conversation and fashion week sets the stage for these conversations. For Africa where we have a lot to say on social issues like racism, abuse, climate change and others, our fashion weeks give us the best opportunity for such social commentary as well as a chance to share our own stories in order to propel the change we desire in society. At the 2020 Glitz Fashion Week, Ghanaian designer Selina Beb sent models down the runway clad in all black ensembles featuring messages like “Black Lives Matter”, “#EndSARS” and “Stop Rape”. This is just an example of how African Fashion Weeks are an avenue for starting social conversations.
Fashion Week creates jobs.
African fashion talents are not limited to designers as there are myriads of fashion geniuses ranging from models, stylists, production and pr professionals among others. Organizing fashion week in Africa continues to help create jobs for these people that contribute to the industry’s attractiveness.
Ultimately, African Fashion Weeks are very important to the growth of the fashion industry because beyond the glitz of the runway, African Fashion Weeks have lot of impact and are here to stay.
Photo credits: Glitz Africa Fashion Week and PremPixels