Throughout the developed world African nationals are racing to build sustainable marketplaces for independent designers of Afro-centric inspired fashions. Numerous African inspired Fashion Week events have emerged throughout three major continents. North America, Western Europe and West Africa. Setting the pulse for this movement is the World Fashion Organization’s agenda to develop wealth creation and eventually free African societies from a dependency on world aid.
The ambitions of WFO is to foster fashion as a vocation; and further the development of ‘World Fashion’ by helping developing nations improve intercontinental trade. Overall, WFO aims to create a global market place for emerging fashion brands under the theme “We Fashion All”. According to the WFO apparel is the chosen market for economic development in Africa because of the high degree of influence African aesthetics has had in the western markets. “Rather than receiving financial aid from the international community, African nations need help developing commercially viable creative industries. The fashion industry has multiplying chains of vocation, which can create wealth. For example, the clothing industry creates jobs for Apparel Designers, Accessory Designers, Tailors, Weavers, Textile Designers, Pattern Makers, Wardrobe Stylists, Models, Fashion Photographers and Writers etc.”
The plan for staging an international trading platform is to span events across three continents. The intention is to establish annual events in Paris, Montreal and Nigeria to form the largest African market place for “Made In Africa” garments, textiles and lifestyle products. Each participating country in Canada, Paris and Nigeria events will be given an exhibition pavilion where they can promote not only their apparel and accessories products, but also culture and tourism potentials. Each participating country will be represented by a nominated Apparel Designer to introduce their country’s tourism, trade and apparel manufacturing resources.
The African Fashion Reception event is in association with the World Fashion Organization. Mr. Lexy Mojo-Eyes is a member on the Board of Governors at WFO and he heads the annual Africa Fashion Reception event in collaboration with the African Union Summit; and the Nigerian Embassy in France. “We wanted to take advantage of some of WFO’s platforms for producing fashion events”. States Lexy. “Africa needs to build its own platform. We Africans have never been able to get into the mainstream of the global fashion networks and events. If Africa’s governing leaders decide to create a level play ground for Africa’s apparel manufacturers through heavy investments in the apparel sector like China did. The garment and textile industry can help Africa to eradicate poverty; if only our leaders realize the potentials in the fashion sector. Since we all wear clothes, this shows the economic viability of the garment industry. After the 2nd World War, the apparel sector brought Europe back to wealth creation through industrialization. The apparel market is doing the same for Asian countries. Fashion is the highest creator of jobs around the world.” Explains Lexy.
The Africa Fashion Reception is a Pan African initiative that will bring together fashion designers, dignitaries and media from over thirty African countries in a celebration of the proud theme ‘Africa is the new inspiration of global fashion’. There are currently thirty African nations being represented by a Designer. Unfortunately, logistical obstacles such as language barriers, political conflicts and under developed infrastructure are cause for hindrance to some of the 54 African nations participation. Preparations are being made for designers to present in Paris this November 22nd. After this 2015 Paris event, the next African Reception event will be hosted in January 2016, at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Africa Fashion Reception event is aimed at attracting global attention to Africa’s garment and textile industries. With the AFR event positioned during the African Union Summit the coordinators will work to engage the governing leaders to help improve intercontinental trading conditions for better collaboration amongst fashion practitioners throughout the African continent. The ultimate goal is to promote self-reliance as the initiative for economic stability for citizens of Africa.
Designer Kimma Wreh of TeKay Designs is an award wining couturiere who has recently been recognized by the Vice President of Liberia, the Honorable Joseph Boakai; as Liberia’s Fashion Ambassador to represent the nation of Liberia on November 22nd. As Liberia’s official Fashion Ambassador, Kimma will promote the nations design talent and manufacturing capabilities during the African Fashion Reception event in Paris. Kimma is an African National who resides in the United States, and creates ethnic inspired gowns and jewelry for special occasions. Tekay Designs has a distinguished couture collection that is currently produced in the West-African country of Ghana with a manufacturing expansion to Liberia.
“I am very proud to share my success in fashion with the people of Liberia.” explains Kimma Wreh. “I’ve donated clothing to needy women and children of Liberia because I want to help the people. I am honored to be nominated and represent my home country of Liberia during this prestigious event. My dream of being a fashion designer extends beyond myself. I wish to expand the production of my product line in Monrovia, Liberia. Apparel production can offer viable opportunities for employment and a better way of life for the people of Liberia, as well as many of the other developing nations that are represented at the African Fashion Reception event.
I fled Liberia during the civil war in the 1980’s. Since then I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University, and a masters in business administration from LeTourneau University in Houston, Texas. My venture in fashion has been long and not without struggles. However, I’ve begun to see my hard work pay off. The opportunity to introduce Liberia’s industrial capabilities to the western markets is another proud moment of success for me. And I want to collaborate with other fashion designers who wish to expand apparel production in Liberia as well.” explains Wreh.
Partnering with the Liberia National Tailors, Textiles, Garment and Allied Workers Union (LNTTGAWU). Ambassador Wreh will lead a delegation of over fifteen Liberian professional tailors to participate in the Africa Fashion Reception event. The group will present a portfolio of sample merchandise produced at the Liberian Tailors Union’s production and training facilities. The presentation will include a live demonstration by a textile weaver producing Liberia’s official country cloth on the premises. Working on behalf of the Liberian government, the garment workers produce official uniforms for Hospitals, Police, Military, Immigration officials, school uniforms for students, as well as request for custom made garments. The union offers Liberian citizens fundamental training courses in tailoring, weaving, creating Tie and Dye cloths, home fashions for interior decoration, business and finance management courses. The union provides advanced courses for professional tailoring, such as pattern making, advanced garment design and construction. Advanced business management and strategic financial planning is also a part of the curriculum. As the established western apparel markets continue to look to African culture for style trends and creative inspiration. The tailors union sees opportunity for small enterprises in Liberia who are professionally savvy about the business of fashion. The future holds potential benefits with preparing Liberian professionals for the attention and buzz about the African fashion industry. According to the tailors union, Liberia’s educated workforce is invaluable for Liberia’s participation in a market place that promotes the African culture; it’s history and traditions.
Photo Credit: Danny Gbawar, Christina Brown
Source: TeKay Designs