Nov 7, 2016

Why fashion should invest in African creative communities?

Let’s talk about creating in Africa, who do you choose to work with?

Everytime I brainstorm about a new creative project — in Accra — I see it as an priority to engage with local talent. Which for me is the only way to produce something meaningful, real and sustainable with respect to the people who are building the industry.

We are experiencing a time where ‘’creative Africa’’ is in the spotlights and not because outsiders have been ‘helping’ so much, but because these talents take the responsibility to rethink the way we look at the continent by spreading an image that showcases opportunities in this field — from an African point of view.

Now looking at the fashion industry it has become ‘fashionable’ for global brands or individuals to present themselves in this terrain where there is so much new to discover. Which in recent years emerged as an inspiring creative scene, authentically welcoming outsiders to become part of a new narrative.

I am talking about the designers, models, photographers, stylists, art-directors etc. It is with the help of these individuals being present on the Internet and social media, that people from all over the world have access to the inspiring chronicles and aesthetics on the continent. Especially over the last years where there has been a lot of reimagination and rethinking of imagery and storytelling from Africa. Shedding a positive light on the diversity, inspiration and so much more.

And of course the fashion industry is one of the communities that are eager to benefit from this, constantly on the look for new cultural inspirations. But many partnerships between global key players and local creative have been nothing more than one-way profits. Brands use it as publicity stunts tailored to benefit the international brand without considering the Africans that are still part of a local creative industry that needs more investment to compete on a global stage.

Meanwhile the local African creative communities are growing and will become a larger part of the global fashion community, so empowering these individuals in each of their positions will positively influence the future of fashion globally. There are key players growing internationally and new innovative talents worth investing in. It is often due lack of training, the right resources, financial support and the right platforms that many individuals don’t get the opportunities to exchange their knowledge, growth and add value to a wider landscape.

Funding, collaborating or contributing to the continent’s creative fashion industry in my eyes is the way to join forces and most importantly create a win-win situation when creating in Africa. A long-term relationship with this new map of doers is essential, as the community will increase and have more influence on a global stage. The way you choose to collaborate with these talents is what will determine if you will truly benefit from the divers cultural meanings and creative opportunities that are going to change the way we experience fashion globally.

( Image: behind the scenes of latest work I created in Ghana: coming soon )