African fashion has taken a downturn along with the economy’s struggles, according to Euronews. In the midst of the crisis, designers who hope to see their businesses grow are looking to expand throughout Africa, ultimately boosting the continent’s role in the global fashion economy
Supporting economic growth on the continent may ultimately help a turnaround. For example, the Ujirani Mwema Community in Kenya is encouraging internal production, instead of importation. The organization makes a cultural textile called the Maasai Shuka. Founded in 2009, the business allows its workers to make a profit of their own, which in turn promotes the local economy.
And, as Africanews highlights, this helps local fashion reach new levels. Maasai patterns, which feature vibrant colors in checks, have appeared on runways beyond Kenya. The Ujirani Mwema Community hopes to see their own business expand both within the country and outside.
South African designer Mzukisi Mbane intends to market in Africa before exporting off the continent. A solid branding closer to home can make a platform for going bigger.
Mbane has already expanded into Nigeria and Ghana, and he is considering targeting Kenya next.
Gloria Silva, who designs in Angola, called for the government to stoke the fires of the fashion industry by focusing on building up Angola’s youth.
Business, however, is still suffering throughout Africa. For example, in 2016, the value of South Africa’s national currency, the rand, had depreciated to half the worth it had five years before. According to BBC, that means a value of just under $0.06 for one rand. Today the rand is worth only slightly more than $0.07, per Yahoo Finance. It takes more than 103 Kenyan shillings to equal the value of one US dollar, and the value fell throughout 2016. It could continue to drop in 2017, according to Bloomberg Markets.
Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons/Ninaras