This week sees the Fashion Africa Conference hit London (26th February), to discuss – through a panel of industry insiders – the future of sustainable, African fashion. And, taking time out of her busy pre-event schedule, the hostess, Jacqueline Shaw stopped by to take our SPICE Q&A.
Here’s what the author, designer and founder of AfricanFashionGuide (AFG) had to tell us about her favourite designers, her very stylish mission and much anticipated fashion conference…
SPICE: Hi Jacqueline! How are you and how are you feeling in the run up to your event?
Jacqueline: I am very well thank you. There is a lot to prepare but I am very grateful for all the support and interest in our conference.
We’re super excited to attend! But what can people look forward to from the Fashion Africa Conference?
Firstly, there is the one off opportunity for people to network with top industry leaders in the UK (even some flying in from Nairobi). This event will form a platform for idea-sharing, networking, learning, education and business concepts, too.
You’re the founder of AfricaFashionGuide, an author and a designer by trade – how would you describe your daily grind in 3 words?
In one word: ‘WOW’ – meaning it always amazes me. The differences in each day makes it interesting and I have so many more ideas to bring to the table.
How long have you been in the industry and which of your roles do you secretly prefer?
I have worked in fashion professionally since 2001 and what I prefer mostly is sourcing; working with producers and seeing beautiful product being made, and above all, seeing how this industry can impact lives when it is handled responsibly.
Can we look forward to anything new form your bridal line, Latibeau?
My bridal business will be rebirther in a new way – a while new concept under a new name… That is all I can say for now, other than ‘Watch this space.’
Ethical and sustainable fashion is a passion of yours – what made you get involved and begin work in this area?
Just working in the industry for years visiting factories and hearing horrific stories. I felt that fashion had a responsibility to those working within the industry and that there was more it could offer. I was determined that my business would impact lives through textiles.
What draws you to African fashion in particular? And what are you favourite African brands?
The textiles are what originally drew me to African fashion and the craft of making these textiles. Favourite brands? There are too many to choose from, but for different reasons I would say Maki Oh, Maxhosa, Chichia, Nkwo… And I could seriously go on! Hence my need to secretly put all of them into a book… and even that is not complete yet; volume 2, 3 and 4 is needed.
Which ethical/eco-entrepreneurs/brands do you commend the work of?
Safia Minney and what she has done with People Tree is admirable; Soko for its production model; Pachacuti for great sourcing and great product; and designer Ada Zandition, to name a few.
You work in fashion but how into fashion are you – scale of 10?
I love fashion but I dislike the negative aspect it has on the environment and mindset of the consumer. I am more ‘into’ the manufacturing aspect and how this can impact lives.
How would you describe your personal style and what is signature to your look?
I try to mix it up everyday. I buy first hand, secondhand, I wear African print and European print, but ladylike is my favourite fashion look – quite dressed up and classy.
In your opinion, the epitome of style is…?
Coco Chanel once said that “Fashion changes, but style endures,” and I think style truly is something that endures. It is classic, has its own mind and transcends seasons – it doesn’t have to be dictated to.
Your Fashion Africa Conference is happening on Wednesday 26th of February – who have you got on your panel?
Our full list of panellists includes Tamsin Lejeune (Director of the Ethical Fashion Forum), Mark Stephenson (of Sandstorm, Kenya), Annegret Affolderbach (of the CHOOLIPS brand, Helen Jennings (of online store, KISUA), designer Ituen Basi and Terence Sambo (of One Nigerian Boy), among others.
Are there any brands/creatives in your field that have your attention atm?
Maki Oh, Sandstorm Kenya, Maxhosa, to name a few.
What do you consider to be the main obstacles the ethical fashion industry faces, and what do you think consumers can do to change the industry as a whole?
Educating the consumer in their shopping habits and getting enough industry leaders to believe in what they are doing. Consumers can be more responsible for their choices and not rely on retailers to make sourcing decisions for them. They vote with their pocket and this is the power of the consumer.
2014 for you and AFG will be about…?
Business development and taking AFG to the place that we planned from the beginning. To do – not just talk about it.
And lastly, what is the most pressing item on your to-do list?
Booking an actual holiday… Cuba, here I come!
The Fashion Africa Conference will hold tomorrow, 26th February from 6-8.30pm at The Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre (lower ground floor), University of London,Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG
Tickets are still available at £15 here, but you can also follow SPICE on Twitter (@SPICETVAFRICA) for live updates from the event.
Contact the AFG team via firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.