If there is one thing African fashion is truly lacking, it’s credibility. We have so many people claiming to be the end all and be all of African fashion, but no one except their close friends and family members believe them. Me personally, I am always thinking about African fashion and one thing that remains on my mind is why we have not been as successful as entities like CFDA designers in the global fashion industry. The answer: Credibility. I hate to say this but the people making all the loud noise on African fashion are not credible. The things they say and do are only for themselves unlike our platform and people like Ezinne Chinkata, a credible stylist from Nigeria behind the looks of many of it’s stars like the actress Omotola. Here she is seen wearing the a two-piece outfit by Nigerian fashion designer Ituen Basi. You cannot be credible if you do not support African fashion fully.
This issue of credibility is important for so many reasons. Case in point, I am sure that you may have attended one or two African fashion shows this year. Good for you. Now my question, when the show ends, what happens? Do you even still remember the designers you came across or did you even buy one or two items they showcased? Better yet, did you follow them on social media, instragram for example and do you constantly like everything they post. Chances are no and it’s not your fault. See, many of these shows are organized by people who are simple not credible in their pursuits for African fashion. I respectfully applaud those who are. But let’s be honest, many people who make all the loud noise on African fashion, do not even patronize the people that work hard to showcase their collection during their African fashion shows.
See in the real world, people are credible because of they things they say and most of the time, these things are well reasoned and free of agendas. Not the same for the noisemakers of African fashion. They all have agendas even if it is for one night a year. See African fashion noisemakers never really share what they are thinking or their original thought when they put on these shows. They are also so good at changing their tune or opinions for the right price or the right person. But when they are alone, they stick to one viewpoint about Africa fashion, their own only, 100% of the time, no arguments, end of story. This is not credibility.
See you are credible as an African designer, African fashion writer, African fashion lover, if you can be relied on all the time to speak your mind about African fashion, as obvious as that sounds and not just for one day only. I grew up in New Jersey in an era where people were quick to share that your word is your bond. The same goes for African fashion. You cannot be hot one day, like on the day you put on your African fashion show, and then be cold 364 days later. That’s not credibility. In the fashion world, when you are not credible, no one buys anything, let alone support your endeavors. It is so sad to share, but so many people have let African fashion down and it boils down to a lack of credibility.
So what to do. How can we ensure that people become credible about African fashion? For starters, the key to becoming credible in African fashion is to know what’s unique about you. For me, it’s writing and if you ever met me personally, talking. I love to write and talk about African fashion, that’s my unique strength. I want to become the voice of African fashion because that’s what’s unique about me. I am not a designer, I will not put on a show one day and then turn around and do nothing 364 days. I will occasionally take a break, because I am a wife, mother and working professional in another field. But my vision to become the voice of African fashion remains the very essence of this blog, 100% of the time. If you don’t know your mission or your vision with African fashion, or your purpose at the end of the day, then you will never be credible. Being credible is nearly everything!
In addition, if your want to become credible in African fashion, you have got to listen to other people. This is probably the most difficult task, because the noisemakers of African fashion often think that they know everything. When you are already sure you know the answer to a question, it can be hard to listen to what someone is telling you or asking you. But credibility is about honesty in communication and that entails listening to others and keeping the same response to everyone. When you are known for having one set of responses to powerful people and different responses to less-powerful people, your credibility vanishes. My advice, is that if you truly love African fashion, then be credible and practice saying what you mean no matter who is listening. In addition, listen to the opinions of others. Your credibility will grow with these steps.
At the end of the day, credibility is also about trust. If people do not trust you as a person, as a brand, then they will not support you. It’s simple. But credibility is not just how you view yourself. Your support for others matters. Are your hoarding African fashion, like it is yours and yours only? There are over 1 billion people in Africa alone, why do you think that you and only you matter? I am not there yet, but I would love for this platform to be an entity which supports the work of others in the manner in which Ezinne does in the image above with her wearing Ituen Basi. Supporting others is another way to become credible in African fashion, that and being kind to everyone you meet on your way up. You truly new know where you would meet them again.