My very first post on Africa on the blog was entitled Africa is not a brand. In that post I challenged stereotypes and fantasies about what Africa was about and who should be taking centre stage in moving Africa forward. There is only one answer, Africans should take centre stage, and if friends of Africa want to lend a hand, then why not?
I challenged the fact that what most Africans value and pursue with their hard earned dosh are Western brands that cost no less than a car. The amount of women I see on the train, in facebook wedding photos and on the streets sporting a Louis Vuitton handbag is more than surprising. What is worse is that they are willing to carry the knock offs around with them with just as much pride. Can somebody please see the light? Please? I just don’t think it is classy, sorry Louie (sheepish smile).
So I went on to try and get us to focus on what could be special about Africa. Rather than just give out one non descriptive blurb, let us actually tap into the real beauty and diversity that the continent brings. I now believe, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Africa is the melting pot of creativity. Music, art, drama, fashion, poetry, story telling and the list goes on. We need to tap into this, glorify it, give it the respect it deserves and hold it up with pride like lions…. And lionesses.
So, what am I talking about?
Well, Africa is the cornerstone of a new generation of high fashion and my dear friends; fashion takes you into the very presence of the who’s who of society. If you have got what is best, they are going to want it. Come on, the high flying bankers, hotel and business owners, the ones who believe they are the top of the totem pole, celebrities and presidents’ wives and children. They want the best. Don’t play around with your precious creations. Don’t down play them; you have eaten enough humble pie. It is time for you to rise to the occasion of extravagance. And if you do not believe where fashion takes you, just ask Samata Angel whose work and passion for fashion landed her on the red carpet in LA a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I am talking about the Oscars!
And so, I dared to challenge in my post 18 months ago that we should be competing with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and so on. And we should be making these brands for you and for me, not a handful of celebrities, they are not as powerful as the collective that you and I make up. Less than a year later, I attended events such as London’s Africa Fashion Week featuring designers such as Kiki Clothing and the extravagant Kiki Kamanu. The Africa Fashion Guide also launched and CNN has featured African fashion retailers such as My Asho and fashion billionairess Folorunso Alakija. What is next?
A whole lot more. Join me in my next post where I will talk about “that shop with the great leather bags” where you will be pleasantly surprised. Definitely watch this space because this new luxury brand speaks for itself and is already challenging brands such as Chloe and Mulberry, and dare I say it, my good old Louie!