African fashion retailers have raised the profile of local luxury. And after?
Industrie Africa works with local designers to deliver directly from their studios to the consumer. “We have the agility of a market model,” says founder Nisha Kanabar. “We don’t have any stock because it’s not good for the creators. It kind of cripples their ability to control their inventory. Designers are able to remove quantities – or increase them.
Young African designers need to develop a solid foundation, says Birimian founder Laureen Kouassi-Olsson. “It’s not just about being able to produce the right amount at the right time… When you look at the industry, there are a lot of initiatives, opportunities, companies, that shed light on these brands without really working on their deep identity. Infrastructure.”
The investment helps, no matter how small the initial amount. Jedaya has raised £150,000 over the past 18 months to launch his business, with investors ranging from The iron Throne actor Maise Williams, to Roberta Annan, founder of the African Fashion Foundation. It has also benefited from some impressive names on its advisory board, including Rotimi Akinyemiju, former COO of Moda Operandi, and Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Lagos Fashion Week. Federico Marchetti, former President and CEO of Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, is also providing mentorship, helping Jedaya’s team prepare for a funding round later this year. Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter, also provided advice and commentary.
Unlike The Folklore or Industrie Africa, Jedaya also stocks international brands including Dolce & Gabbana and Balenciaga, bringing them to the African consumer and market. Customers around the world can shop African luxury brands on the Jedaya platform.
Community first approach
Multi-brand retailers seek to create a supportive environment where young African brands can benefit from creative advice, such as how to film a good campaign and develop a range sheet. “You can’t have the retail component without the community focus because you’re trying to create regenerative prosperity within our industry and regenerative growth as an industry,” says Kanabar. “It’s not just about changing the overall perception and stereotypical aesthetic, which I think is something we all know. It’s about creating a framework in which to navigate and grow and using it as a platform for learning.
Beyond fashion and luxury, these brands are integrating into the community and developing a media presence through their platforms. Industrie Africa works with regional freelancers who often write content for its site. The Folklore Group has launched an online media platform that features editorial content on the African and Diaspora design industry. Jedaya started out as a pure content platform, spotlighting African brands. Now it’s about to become so much more – and to pave the way for the development of African fashion talent.
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