Monday, December 5, 2011


 Skirt (fashion-conscience) Jacket (Topshop) Earrings (forever21) shoes (Topshop).

Here is thing there is no way you will make it in this business without so kind creativity ( noway). I have said this over and over again just because African fashion is taking off does not mean that we can all jump in the wagon. You may think well there are a lot of celebrities such as Jessica Simpson, Kimora lee simmons , Victoria Beckham to name a few that are successful but they are not designers per say. The difference between  you and them is that they have creative directors behind them and are loaded with money. Trying to copy the work of a western designer by using African print will not work. If you want to stand out among others you have to be different. The key is that you can be a designer with no sewing skills  but can't be a designer with no creativity. This does not only apply to African designers but all designers . Unfortunately if you create your business and make the same dress over and over again with different fabrics you will miserably fail. 

I have covered this the other day when I gave you a few tips on how to better promote your work. When you start your business you have to promote it on the internet and by giving out business cards, send your work images to magazines, participates in blogs and forums discussions and more . There are a lot good designers that I find while looking around and that I  have never heard of. Do not expect people to came find you so keep in mind that you are the seller. When you create a  facebook page keep it interesting by interacting with your fans.Fashion houses like Burberry, Gucci, Versace spend millions marketing their products every year. No business will ever make it in this world without a little marketing.

The truth of the matter is African don't buy African products. There are a lot businesses that close down because we don't support them. I am all for standing up and refuse to buy  crappy products whether its made in Africa or not. Many designers will start their business and will close it down not because of their lack of creativity but because  we don't support them.  The only time we notice them is when they are featured in big publications or a  American celebrity rocks their work. How can we seat back and say we want Africa to move forward if we don't make the necessary changes to make it happen. Another reason for the lack of sale could be that the items are really expensive for what it is. If you have no sale then you have no business period.

Ok you know that you have knowledge of the type of  textiles, fabrics, ornamentation, and fashion trends now what? Everyone is not business savvy therefore you will have to either do it yourself or hire someone to do it. The questions that came to mind are the following: what do I do with the  money I receive from the sales? how to I pay my employees?  how to make profit? etc.... I like the way Cameroon fashion house Cote Minou make it work. They are 2 people one take care of the business aspect and the other the creativity aspect. You do not have to do that however if you have  zero business skills once again your business will fail miserably.

Update: So I ask some my tweetfriends opinions about some other reasons why some African designers don't make it in this industry. I removed their name for privacy reasons here is what some had to say:

"I'm looking forward to this post. My two cents...lack of a signature look, funding, advertising and branding." S
"1 of the reason is lack of funding & business skills 2 manage the business.We also have 2 differentiate tailors from designers.Africa fashion lots of great designers with good products,no place 4 hungry potential customer 2 purchase their products" I
 "Lack of innovation and sound business plans " P
"you've got to stop being an "African" designer and just be a designer with a long term plan. Constantly seeking ways to expand. Many don't want 2 work or fail 2 realize the work involved they want 2 draw a picture sew it and have instant gratification." K


There was more answers but can't them .In my opinion these are a few reasons why most of  African fashion houses fail. I want you guys to share other reasons with us. Any Thoughts?


  1. J'aime ton nouveau style d'article, avec une vision sur le marché africain.
    Je suis d'accord avec tt les points.
    Moi je pense que malheureusement beaucoup de personnes veulent être designers, et je pense qu'aimer la mode ne suffit pas, il s'agit d'un vrai métier qui s'apprend dans des écoles!!! Il faut connaitre un minimum le vêtement, les textiles, leurs fonctions!!! Et même si l'on est autodidacte il est important de viser sa clientèle, de définir ses concurrents, de se positionner, bref de faire un vrai buisness plan. Et comme tu le cite apporter quelque chose de créatif et différent.
    Mais ce que je n'aime pas c'est que tout le monde est designers maintenant bon ou mauvais, trop de personne se dise styliste c'est dommage :(
    J'adore le wax ou le bogolan mais ce que je vois dans certaines créations c'est qu'il n' y a AUCUNE créativité dans le vêtement il s'agit juste d'une réplique d'une robe, un pantalon ou un t shirt, fait en tissu africain!
    C'est beau soit, mais où est la particularité du designer?

    Le must pour un styliste:Qu'on puisse le reconnaître à la seule vue du vêtement (ds le bon sens du terme bien sûr)!

  2. I agree with the Business Skills and would also point out that Customer Communication and Customer Service are key.

    I don't agree with the statement that "Africans" do not support "African Designers" though.

  3. I think all of these reasons are true . love it

  4. Such a great article! This is exactly what I've been trying to tell my girlfriends in the fashion industry! Can I repost this on my blog?

  5. This is solid reasoning! You've summarised the factors perfectly...

  6. @anonymous You can as long as you fully credit as the source and put a link to my site.

  7. Africans are only starting to support their designers but many genuinely don't. They will take your designs to their local tailors to copy what you've suffered to create.


Thank you all for taking the time to comment.