Business of Fashion: "Putting Africa on the Fashion Map"
May 20 2015
In his article for Business of Fashion, Robb Young addresses the potential of Africa, both as a source of production and as a consumer market, and how the continent’s implication into the global fashion system could turn the Euro-centric fashion industry on its head.
"As both a source of production and a consumer market, Africa is poorly integrated into the global fashion system, leading to lost business opportunity," states editor Robb Young, when discussing the challenges that the Sub-Saharan Africa has to face in regards to its integration into the international fashion industry.
Young further notes that although the economical challenges in Africa are still considerable, the overall business situation is improving. In this context, he quotes the African Development Bank, which revealed that there are "a new upwardly mobile mass of around 350 million people", who are driving growth in burgeoning consumer markets like fashion; as well as the New World Wealth, which recently counted 165,000 African millionaires, who together hold 28% of Africa’s total personally-held wealth. Young also pinpoints the slow but consistent improvement of logistics and transportation networks on the continent (mostly due to Chinese investors), the growing retail market, Africa’s competitive labour costs, as well as the fact that the risk-to-reward ratio is much lower than in the past.
"With over 50 different trading and legal conventions, ten overlapping regional blocs, a dozen climate zones and 2,000 spoken languages, this is a highly fragmented and precarious region, whether you’re sourcing, producing, selling or doing anything else along the fashion value chain. But it is one with scale and potential like no other," states Young, making a nod to the continent's one-of-a-kind creative and cultural soul.