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Africa at the forefront of fashion industry

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By Mercy Kelani

The potential of the industry is impeded by insufficient investment.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the fashion industry in Africa is experiencing a rapid development to meet local and global demand. However, the potential of the industry is impeded by insufficient investment. This disclosure was made in a report published during Lagos Fashion Week. The earnings of the industry is currently valued at $15.5 billion worth of exports every year, and has the potential to triple over the next ten years.

This can only be achieved with the appropriate investment and infrastructure. The disclosure was made by the Director-General of the UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, who was responsible for the launch of the first report of UNESCO on African garments in the economic hub of Nigeria, Lagos State. Africa has a young population of about 1.3 billion people, which will multiply by 2050. As such, the fashion industry of the continent has proven to be a significant tool to promote cultural diversity.

More market opportunities have been unlocked for Africa.

Azoulay said that the industry is also empowering women and young people across Africa. Fashion has continued to develop in various aspects — movies and films inclusive — across the African continent. It keeps growing in the form of garments, textiles, fine crafts and accessories, with an admirably long history of prestige that represents the African culture. The UNESCO report noted that there is a continuous local and international demand for African brands, which is fostered by the growth in e-commerce.

It was further stated that the African continent is at the forefront of mobile device web traffic across the globe. This statement was affirmed by the United States (US) International Trade Administration. This achievement by the continent has unlocked more market opportunities for African countries. Through these market opportunities, young Nigerian citizens across the country are regularly opening brands. This is because Africans want to wear Africa made — dresses that represent the culture of the continent.

A new generation of young designers is emerging in the global scene.

Omoyemi Akerele, who established the Lagos Fashion Week in 2011, over one decade ago, to boost the patronage of Nigerian and African fashion, stated that Africans like to rep Africa in their dressing, and it is beautiful to witness because previously it was not like this. He stressed that all people want to wear now is African fashion. The annual Lagos Fashion Week always feature different designers from all over the continent as it celebrates local brands.

Also, the annual fashion show ensures provision of a market for local brands, displaying African crafts and culture in several styles and colours. The UNESCO director-general said that in many parts of Africa, including Nigeria, young designers are pursuing after success and are taking charge of the international stage. She said that a new generation of young designers is emerging in the global scene. This new breed of designers are keen on the reinvention of the code of luxury.

Exposure has made more people experience the Nigerian culture.

Additionally, this new generation of designers are ensuring reconciliation with the demands of local, sustainable fashion and heritage. One of such new breed designers, Ejiro Amos-Tafiri, stated, at the Lagos Fashion Week, that through her brand, she tells African stories and celebrates the class, sophistication and distinctiveness of all women. More exposure has made more people realize that the Nigerian culture has a lot embedded in it, especially in the industry. As a result, Africa is at the forefront of the industry.

Related Link

Lagos Fashion Week: Website

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