On Wednesday February 26th, Jacqueline Shaw held her successful Fashion Africa Conference in a lecture theatre at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. People turned out ready to be inspired, share their thoughts and in some cases, criticisms on the running and exposure of the African fashion sector and international trading – and we at SPICE were there to soak it all up.
Hostess, author and founder of African Fashion Guide, Ms Shaw began the night wearing a statement piece – one of her “100% African” tees, which she explained had been produced in Africa, using cotton sourced from the continent, making it 100% African. Shaw also stated:
“I felt as if there weren’t any platforms that spoke about African Fashion in a contemporary manner. African Fashion guide was born through my Masters Degree. I’ve done talks in Torronto, Ghana etc and it is good to return home and do something like this. The objective of tonight is to reunite the industry, this is also an opportunity for us to discuss the business of fashion and textiles in Africa. There’s something we could all be part of and proud of. Through tonight I hope to raise the platform and facilitate change of many people’s perceptions on African designers; to show that there are skills in Africa.”
The busy and informative night consisted of two interesting panels – the first discussing sustainable fashion made in Africa, with Alice Mostert (of Solidaridad), Liesl Truscott (of Textile Exchange), Mark Stephenson (of Sandstorm Kenya), Mo Tomaney (a UCA tutor), Paola Masperi (of Mayamiko in Malawi) and Tamsin Lejeune (the director of Ethical Fashion Forum) as panellists.
Panel number two, discussing the future of African fashion, saw Annegret Affolderbach (of CHOOLIPS), Daphne Kasambala (of S’APELLE boutique), Helen Jennings (of online store KISUA), designer Ituen Basi, Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo (of FAB Magazine), Terence Sambo (of One Nigerian Boy) and Prama Bhardwaj (of Mantisworld) on the panel, sharing their views.
Over the course of the night many issues arose and it was made clear that a key factor for the lack of growth, attention and economic benefits of African resources in fashion is due to the fashion chain, and how consumers add value to textiles processing at the lower end of the chain. Mark Stephenson, the managing director of Sandstorm in Kenya also made an interesting point, saying:
“It’s easier to ship from say Kenya across to the USA or Europe than it is to trade in and around African countries without a 25% tax being slapped on all shipping. So until there’s mutual and internal genuine cooperation, there’s very little anyone can do”.
We at SPICE look forward to the next African Fashion Conference and thank AFG for having us.
Image source: @Onenigerianboy