|Marni for H&M|
A couple of weeks ago, I went for a fancy dinner in Knightsbridge, London. On leaving the restaurant, I saw a modelesque Sloaney popping out for a cigarette. She was wearing a pair of trousers similar to a pair of Jewel by Lisa trousers I own, and so I rushed over and asked excitedly "OMG! where did you get your trousers?" and she said "H&M". I literally just walked away.
I don't know why I expected her to say Jewel by Lisa, or even mention an African designer. All I know is I was frustrated. Marni for H&M, Burberry. It's all over the high street, in Harrods, Harvey Nicks, it's popping up in a Primark near you. Wherever you look. It's everywhere. The African Print revolution has reached the masses of the Western world yet the biggest users of these prints, the designers who work with these prints on a daily basis are making next to nothing. Great job!
Following recent blog posts and tweets from the fabulous Terrence Sambo of OneNigerianBoy.com, I learned about Burberrys visit to the JBL studio in Lagos, Nigeria. They were just having a little look see it seems. Fair enough, free country - except Lagos isn't really the kind of place one just pops over to for a little look see. Anyways, they did. They had a look see, and then they made $1billion in profits. Interesting.
|JBL - Cover of Genevieve Mag November 2009|
|Burberry SS12 Collection|
I'm not an economist, but I do have a PhD, so I'm somewhat bright. Africa is a continent with tremendous potential (no sh*t Sherlock!). A friend who just visited Nigeria said to me "seems there are a lot more foreigners there than the last time I went". Smart business people are looking to Africa for business. So imagine how saddened I was to hear from several designers during a recent buying trip, that they were all seriously considering production outside of Africa. So not only do we have to deal with the fabric issue, production is rearing its ugly head also.
Now, the history of the fabric is a tale for another day (soon to follow). "African Print" fabric may not belong to Africa, but Africans do rock it like no other! The continent is by far the biggest market for "African" Print fabrics, but really ask, what is the African stake in this global industry?
Gone are the days of homegrown African textile mills (thanks China!), gone are the days of economically sensible production in Africa. All that is left is constant power failure, inconsistent government policies, lack of support, corruption, security issues and the list goes on. At My Asho we struggle with supply chain issues on a daily basis. It is a challenge.
So, nothing against Marni, nothing against Burberry (well, maybe a little something against Burberry), nothing against good old-fashioned capitalism. My question to you all is what is Africa going to do about this? Is anything African African anymore?
Join the debate:
Join the debate: