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Africa poised to shape future of global fashion

Despite several challenges facing the industry, continent has several unique factors that may propel it to success

By Otiato Opali in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-25 08:52

A makeup artist works on a model during Kibera Fashion Week on Nov 5 in Nairobi. [Photo by WU XIAOHUI/CHINA DAILY]


Despite the challenges faced by young designers on the continent, she advised players in the industry to give their best to their work and to be a master.

"As an upcoming designer, you should strive to learn and understand your clients," Nato said. "Listen to your clients, listen to what the market wants as opposed to what you want."

Most players in the African fashion industry also believe that Africa has the ability to lead the world in sustainable fashion and practices. Nato believes that since Africa is not wasteful, small acts like collecting waste materials and reusing or redesigning them helps reduce wastage.

"Personally, I get to check back on some of my designs that did not move and redesign them before putting them back into the market," Nato said.

"I also have clients who buy gowns from me for special occasions and after using the gown once, they cannot put them to other use. In such a case, I am able to convince my clients bring back their gowns and I resell the gowns to people who are able to buy them and use them again."

Mbugua believes that African governments are leading the way in sustainability by establishing regulations to develop safe tannery systems in the leather industry.

"In Kenya for instance, we have adopted vegetable tanning where we use vegetable tannins to preserve, strengthen and give color to our hide. This is because chemicals are destructive and affect the environment, including water systems. We also demand the same level of environmental awareness from our suppliers," she said.

Solomon Dodoo, a Ghanaian exhibitor at the Ethiopian fashion week and fair, said a tour around the booths at the event reveals that African fabrics are vibrant, colorful and incorporate the diversity of African culture.

"Going through the items on exhibition at this fashion event, you notice that every single fabric is unique and there are no two fabrics that look alike," Dodoo said. "Africa is offering beautiful fabrics to the international world and I hope they will patronize and buy into the idea that Africa really has a very beautiful culture in terms of our fabrics. We are the future of fashion."

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