On being a critic of fashion from an African perspective

On being a critic of fashion from an African perspective

If there is one thing I know fashion from an African perspective needs, it is people who are unafraid of either sharing their true opinion, or polarizing the opinion of others. Sadly, this is one aspect that is sorely lacking not only in African fashion, but in global fashion industry and one I hope to fill as time goes on here at Isioma’s Style Report.

The fashion industry and the way fashion is presented is constantly changing and so it’s only right that Africans are at the pulse of what’s going on in the world of fashion. One only needs to look at the style of one of my favorite designers Lisa Folawiyo to know that we are into fashion from an African perspective.
Lisa-Folawiyo-1 Lisa-Folawiyo-2 Lisa-Folawiyo-3 Lisa-Folawiyo-4

Fashion criticism also comes in so many forms these days, that everyone, including a young African woman like myself, can establish their own critical pathway. This is partly because there are only a handful of people who consider themselves critics and almost none are of African decent. Personally, I think criticism are important for fashion from an African perspective to be taken seriously especially as the African customer is almost never on the agenda of global fashion industry and many African designers do not have the luxury of a runway in New York or Paris or even Lagos to tell their story.

Most collections from designers who identify themselves as African designers are in the form of presentations and in many cases they come with talking points from the designer’s pr on the vision of the collection and narratives they want to share. As an aspiring fashion critic, I believe that my role is to stand up and voice my point of view rather than praise or dismiss every collection from an African designer in this already fragile industry. Thus, fashion criticism can help African customers and African designers to understand how fashion is viewed and how it fits or does not fit into the world of a woman conscious of fashion from an African perspective. The stories critics tell can be reassuring especially if they have an understanding of what the designers have done before and how it will likely impact the world of an African women. Of course everyone expects a certain standard of quality and skill and craftsmanship, so the biggest challenge for African fashion critics would be honesty. It’s not about praising collections, or taking cheap shots where one simply states that a collection is bad or terrible. Instead, it’s about providing a rationale while making a strong case as to why a collection is worthy of praises or not and how it will likely impact the world of the African woman.

There is so much going on in fashion and their is a real hunger for someone who can unpack and explain what we are seeing from an African perspective. I do not claim to have the answers, but I know that there is a need for someone like me who can always look at collections with fresh eyes. My inspiration will come from everywhere, but my goal would be to ensure that there is place for fashion from an African perspective because Africa has women (like me) in love with fashion from our own point of view.

Image Credit: Lisa Folawiyo Instagram

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