By Advika Srivastava
The African fashion industry has grown significantly in recent years, currently valuing at more than $15 billion. Despite its rapid growth, most leading fashion professionals in the industry have either trained by themselves or received an education abroad. Therefore, it is essential to focus our attention on African fashion education for several reasons discussed below.
1. To decolonize the African fashion industry, and encourage inclusivity and cultural pride
Colonization has become embedded in several infrastructures of society. For instance, unrealistic euro-centric standards of beauty and the western perspective still seem to be present in the African fashion industry and African fashion education. Therefore, there is a need to decolonize African fashion education, encourage more inclusivity in it, and support traditional African fashion.
2. The African fashion industry is a great economic opportunity for the continent
The African fashion industry can play a big role in generating employment and economic growth for the continent. Additionally, the industry has the potential to economically empower women and young people on the continent. For this to happen, appropriate educational facilities for fashion education must be made available.
3. To fulfil a global consumer demand
The global fashion audience is interested in wearing traditional African patterns and designs. Due to this, cultural appropriation by foreigners, who do not understand the purpose or meaning of several designs but only use them for their aesthetics, has increased. However, the global consumer today is “hyper-aware”. They do not want replicas by western brands but want authentic creations from African professionals. Therefore, we need to promote fashion education in Africa to support professionals who can deliver on these needs.
4. The current state of African fashion schools can be improved in concrete ways
A report by CIAFE titled “Improving the Standards of Fashion Education in Africa'' highlights concrete ways in which fashion education can be improved in Africa. With this available, we know how change can be implemented.