Fashion Business in Africa — Market Trends and Opportunities

Ever since the dawn of human civilisation, clothing and dressing have been a basic way of life. From representing social statuses to promoting cultural heritage, it has played a big role in revolutionising societies. Cultural appropriation and acceptance of individuals have also depended a lot on how presentable and organised one is. Market trends keep on changing due to the industry’s extreme dynamics, drive for innovation and creativity involved. Africa is an evolving brand in fashion, increasing its global footprint gradually. Many African designers have started participating in international fashion shows; their talent, creativity & innovative designs being appreciated worldwide. 

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The showcasing of the African culture and heritage through unique fabric designs has been a source of attraction for fashion lovers globally since the concept has been entirely new to them. Currently, Africa has a small share in the fashion business but is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years due to its growing purchasing power parity. As per estimates and census, the population of Africa is estimated to grow in 2050 by two-third from its current strength of 1.2 billion approximately. With expectations to reach more than three-fold by the end of the next millennia. Investing in the industry, therefore, looks extremely lucrative for the future, provided appropriate strategy, innovative methods and smart marketing techniques are applied. Besides, with approximately 200 million people between the age groups of 15 years and 25 years, purchases are expected to be robust as this segment consumes fashion the most.

Photo by Breston Kenya from Pexels

While the global fashion industry is more than $1.4 trillion, the Sub-Saharan African market is worth more than $31 billion. The challenges in the region include a lack of infrastructure and fewer international collaborators. Recently, in the month of September in 2019, UNESCO hosted an international conference in its Paris headquarters. The agenda of the discussion was “Made in Africa: The next global manufacturing hub?” With leading experts from the continent joining in, the discussions focused on the sector’s potential growth, the respective country capabilities, the role of the industry in generating employment, market trends and major challenges.

Countries which are marching ahead in revolutionising their fashion industry are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. As per estimates, Nigeria exported footwears globally, which was worth more than $30 million in 2015. Besides, Kenya has a targeted export of more than $65 billion of woven and knit apparels by 2023. Unlike other countries, those in Africa do not have widespread dedicated university-oriented programs for fashion, but the demand for such programs is increasing by the day.

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