Africa's fashion influence increasing

Africa's fashion influence increasing

2014-10-24 16:00

Johannesburg - Thousands of fashion industry icons and local and international media are set to converge on Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, for the fifth annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa (MBFWAfrica), next week, to celebrate not only Africa’s newfound identity as a trend-setting continent, but one with a clothing and textile industry now able to rival any in the world.

Cape Town and Johannesburg ranked 27th and 37th respectively as global fashion capitals, and SA has received major support from governing bodies in terms of growing its fashion and textile industries.

The department of trade and industry (DTI) recently approving a R200m grant and five-year plan for The Southern African Sustainable Textile and Apparel Cluster – a clear indication of the government’s appreciation of the industry’s economic value and potential.

While a combination of factors have made for African fashion’s newfound stature - including a profound, modern take on African heritage - none can be more significant than the growth of the new African middle-class which has brought about a boom in the clothing and textiles sectors.

Add to this that African designers are receiving significant international repute and the feeling is that the continent’s fashion, design and textile industry is here to stay.

“Five years since the first MBFWAfrica, Africans are no longer looking solely to Europe and the US for fashion inspiration. They are proudly defining their own styles and often choosing to wear local designers instead of overseas labels. In addition, the world increasingly looks to Africa for innovative and globally competitive designs,” says AFI chairperson Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe.

“We believe that platforms like the various Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks, which provide exposure for designers to leading local & international players, have played a significant role in the recent boom of the African fashion industry. The same applies to AFI’s designer acceleration and incubation programmes, Next Generation and Fastrack™, which support emerging designers with, among other things, retail opportunities in major stores."

Furthermore, AFI has stated that the potential ripple effect of this growth on Africa’s economy cannot be overstated. Its growth is an invaluable and ongoing catalyst of job creation, small- to medium-business development, and international interest and investment, among others.

- Fin24