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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

5 Things we can learn from African fashion brands about brand building, by Tatiana Kombo

The African Fashion industry is one that is booming and one we would say has made tremendous strides in showcasing the artistry and talent that exists on the continent and in the diaspora. However it goes beyond artistry, there is so much we can learn from the fashion industry specifically around branding. Here are 5 lessons: 

  1. Have a clear and authentic purpose

One of the most common traits between successful African entrepreneurial endeavors is that they are rooted in a culture of authenticity. Business structures are infused with credibility and allow for a genuine connection with a clientele. Successful African fashion brands intermingle tradition and innovation. Amazing results are brought about when the sophisticated techniques and soulfulness of the past are seamlessly merged with the vitality of contemporary identity.

  1. Harness the local

Purposeful design also drove Ethiopian supermodel and former World Health Organisation's Goodwill Ambassador Liya Kebede to create Lemlem in 2007. His goal was to promote economic independence in her home country, as well as to preserve the local craft of weaving by generating demands. Local women are the soul of the brand.

  1. Create a community

As the premier marketplace for African-inspired fashion and accessories, Zuvaa also focuses on fostering a community through meaningful stories and shared experiences. In this sense, Zuvaa is part of a bigger movement, a vibrant platform in which customers feel connected to the garments that represent a part of their identity.

  1. Leverage the digital

Nigerian designer Amaka Osakwe ’s African-inspired ready-to-wear label, Maki Oh, is one of Nigeria’s biggest fashion success stories. Osakwe has dressed the likes of Michelle Obama and Lupita Nyong’o and was a finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize in 2014. One of her business breakthroughs interestingly happened when the  owner of the McMullen women's clothing boutique in Oakland reached out to her via Instagram, which led to a brilliant partnership with the boutique and Farfetch, creating an opportunity for Maki Oh to seep into the Californian fashion scene and beyond. Here, the power of visual branding and social media provided a real opportunity to stack successes. It lead to deliberately global partnerships, boosting a distinctly African contribution to the international marketplace.

  1. Pass on your wisdom and provide opportunities

Nigerian fashion designer Deola Sagoe proved a point and shed light on the value of African designers by becoming the first black woman to present a collection at AltaRoma fashion week in Italy. Noted Senegalese designer Adama Ndiaye who launched Dakar Fashion Week, gave way to a creative platform that promotes both her brandname and those of other African designers. Kelechi Anyadiegwu, who founded Nigerian fashion e-market platform Fashpa, is also passing along her wisdom to women of her continent. Currently, she is sharing her journey with aspiring entrepreneurs via her vlog, “Side Hustle to Empire.”

Photo Credit Tamara Flemming Relevant Images| Concept Design WCA 2017

Tatiana Kombo is a Paris-based creative consultant and communications coordinator working with emerging fashion brands, musical creatives and non-profit structures to design lucrative marketing growth strategies. She is French, Nigerien, Ukrainian and Iranian and also contributes to a variety of online platforms where she focuses on the intersections between fashion, culture, feminism, entrepreneurship, the African diaspora, and music.

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