“African fashion businesses are growing all the more sophisticated in their skills, teams and media campaigns.”
African fashion industry has seen significant growth over the past decade, overcoming challenges such as insufficient brick-and-mortar infrastructure. Conditions have tremendously improved with the coming of digital marketing and retail platforms such as Kisua, Onychek, and Zuvaa. Such online marketing teams and people make it easy for the African fashion to reach higher visibility in the fashion world.
African fashion is growing vertically and horizontally and it is emboldened by many experienced teams and people with the skill to develop the industry with fashion knowledge. An encouraging example is seen by Adebayo Oke-Lawal, a Nigerian designer behind Orange Culture becoming a semi-finalist for the first-ever LVMH Prize. Other notable designers such as Folawiyo, as well as Bridget Awosika and Kelechi Odu, among others in Nigeria, have sown distinct point of view in their designs and as a result, they enjoy a loyal customer base, and global appeal, according to Lagos-based fashion writer Mazzi Odu.
Global luxury fashion investing groups would be wise to seriously look into the continent’s emerging fashion industry for a great opportunity. Although Investment opportunity on African fashion brands are not widely open to the public as most of the fashion brands are not publicly listed enterprises, These brands surely focus on quality and African fashion brands owns a unique quality to attract fashion connoisseur from everywhere. African-inspired embroidery and garment work remains at the core of African design that are the building blocks of luxury brands the world over. And that artisanal skills are what will make African fashion stand out in the global marketplace.
Emilie Gambade, group brand director of Associated Media Publishing in Cape Town, whose portfolio includes the South African editions of Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan, seems to agree.
“[Africa has] an incredible wealth of expertise and craftsmanship, designer brands that have strong and unique signature aesthetics – from Laduma [Ngxokolo of MaXhosa] to Thebe Magugu, Maki Oh, Rich Mnisi, Lukhanyo Mdingi to Loza Maleombho [now exhibiting at the Museum of Modern Arts] that international luxury holdings could support and work with.” These and “so many [other] young designers on the continent are working directly with local craftsmen and women.”
While the designers cited above are all at very different stages in their brand development and distribution, a few could one day soon reach a scale where they attract an investment vehicle like L Catterton, a private equity fund formed by LVMH and Groupe Arnault, which made an investment in an Argentinian womenswear brand, Rapsodia.
Could this be a suitable global investment approach for Africa whereby African contemporary fashion brands are boosted by scaling them up first across the region and then further afield? Maybe this is an attractive opportunity for the right investor.