Making African Fashion Accessible: Lessons from Stella Jean

Making African Fashion Accessible: Lessons from Stella Jean

Stella Jean is beloved by many in the West. In case you don’t know her, she is the Milan-based designer whose work blends her Haitian heritage and Italian upbringing to create feminine dressing with eclectic prints that are fresh and or so modern. But here is the kicker, everything she makes screams Africa true and true. Call it a fresh perspective if you like or noted colorful inspirations, even a vibrant mash-up, one thing is for sure, Stella Jean has managed to make African Fashion seem very accessible (sans her price tag of course). So how did she do it? 1. A Platform: For starters, she found a platform to thrive, Milan Fashion Week, with the likes of Vogue describing her as “the fashion capital’s rising star.” 2. A Support System: She found support in the like of Giorgio Armani who according to Business of Fashion “personally selected her spring/summer 2014 collection to show at his 550- Teatro show space in Milan, as well as lending his communications team – the first time he has ever shared both with another designer. 3. A Cause: Though Stella Jean uses her ethnicity to make clothes that she believes are smarter and ethically sound and this is according to Telegraph UK, she is also an advocate of helping the poorest women in the world. According to the Telegraph, “for her spring/summer 2014 collection, Jean travelled to Burkina Faso, west Africa, with the International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Initiative, a United Nations project, to source local fabrics in underprivileged areas. She met artisan weavers and embroiderers and, overwhelmed by the wealth of talent, returned home brimming with hand-woven striped fabrics and ideas.” 4. Followers: Everyone is wearing Stella Jean. Beyonce for example, recently made headlines in the outfit by the designer below. All this as Jean plans to continue melding cultures together using fabrics from all over the world, including India, Mongolia and South America. beyonce-stella-jean 5. E-commerce: Stella Jean is available online, from yoox.com to matchesfashion.com, even modaoperandi has a Stella Jean Boutique that would allow you to purchase any of her fashion products from this season to previous seasons. While Stella Jean has mastered the art of making African Fashion accessible as highlighted above, I honestly believe that any other African Fashion brand can do the same. But the onus is on us to do for us without waiting for the right time or the right people to invest in Africa’s Fashion Industry. It will start by belonging to a platform, of course finding supporters and followers, choosing a cause if you so desire, but selling, selling, selling African Fashion products with attention to detail and quality. The truth is that the West will not help African Fashion out, it’s really not on their agenda except for maybe, charity. It is the truth as bitter as it may seem. But Africa’s fashion has value and so much potential to sell, but we must work together as one, to ensure that it also becomes accessible and oh so profitable.

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