The maker of the world’s finest crystal’s Swarovski is celebrating their 120th anniversary this year and doing so with a mini-retrospective which was kicked off last Tuesday. I am sure you must have come across their high quality crystals by now. It is very popular even in the many variations of beaded jewelry worn by many African women like the ones below:
“Swarovski crystals are exceptional because they are naturally brilliant, whether as timeless day wear or bold, glamorous evening pieces. They also offer something for every need and taste and budget if I might add. They have collaborated with other giants like Samsung with the Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 dazzling with no less than 4.000 Swarovski crystals, and they remain a family owned business with more than a hundred years’ experience of high-quality craftsmanship and mastery in cutting light-filled crystals of breathtaking range and brilliance.”
So what can African fashion learn from Swarovski crystals now that will make the generation (120 years from now), proud to look back on all African fashion has achieved?
For starters, African fashion like Swarovski crystals has to demonstrate leadership both in terms of quality and market position. Only then will we have the self-confidence on which to build our future. For now, with the exception of few designers, no one takes us seriously, at least we don’t have Chinese customers flocking to our countries to buy our luxury goods they same way they flock to Paris or London.
Our identity is unknown whether as a high end luxury brand or low end or anything in between. Some people are trying with the likes of Lagos Fashion and Design Week, but we have to do more. No one is writing or showcasing the strength that lies within our great continent, and most have given up all together, relying on copying the next design they see (like Lupita’s Calvin Klien Red Cape Dress), instead of investing in the young designer trying to make a living.
But the breath of product innovation by that younger designer has to be astounding if we are going to look back 120 years from now. So herein lies the secret of Swarovski; ” they have stood for innovation and inspiration for over 120 years.” Can African fashion do the same and if so how? For starters, before another designer decides to hire a bunch of tailors and start yet another new line, they should ask themselves the following questions: Is innovation your strength? Will your designs inspire your customers? Are you going to invest heavily in trend research? If it may help, here are some of the ways Swarovski generates ideas: “They have an internal “ideas platform” where every employee can share their ideas.” Imagine that, the likes of Bellanaija or Lisa Folawiyo with an “ideas platform.” But do you know what they believe is the most important way to create ideas? You guessed it-“working closely their customers, being creative together, so as to develop products that match their needs.” I don’t know what African Fashion will look like 120 years from now, but I hope that it is one where people are proud of the outstanding products we make. So my question for the day, which African designer, African Fashion Platform will we celebrate 120 years from now?
Image Credit: Sunmisola Olorunnisola Photography