I want to usher in great wisdom for 2016 with those trying to make a mark for themselves with this thing called African Fashion, myself included. I think that to excel with African Fashion, you, me, anyone reading this, the first thing we have to do is BREAK ALL THE RULES. If we cannot sell at Barneys, create our own Zuvaa, if they don’t understand why we won’t were black, don’t conform, tell them why colors are powerful. See, nothing we do, especially if we do it the way the global fashion industry dictates, will ever help us succeed. If fact, we are not destined to shine bright in the way that most global fashion brands shine. African fashion, is only suppose to be an adopted child, albeit the adopted child that everyone feels sorry for, because we have no parents of our own to love and cherish us.
We can do better, like the image above with our own unique style and colors and we are more powerful collectively than individually, but many people have to check their egos at the door. No one has made it with African Fashion. No one has conquered the billion dollar mark yet like Oprah and her media house did, so until you and your brand do so, I will suggest that if you have an ego with African Fashion, kindly take several seats and watch as those who truly care about this emerging market soar as we propel each other to the top. Those who will propel African fashion to the top will be revolutionaries. They will have to topple conventional wisdom of what it is to become successful with fashion in general. It will demand discipline, focus, trust and perhaps a willingness to stand apart from the rest. For me personally, I take great pride in being the voice of African Fashion because quite frankly, we have no one speaking for us or to us. I don’t presume to be the best at it yet, but it’s my vision and no matter how long it takes, it will come to pass. I will continue to pay attention to that which matters to us, like making sure we become a profitable entity. The best I can do is make any brand I encounter be comfortable with who they are. My goal in the new year is to create an environment where anyone interested in African Fashion is encouraged to succeed. I am going to spend a lot of time listening too. I want to know the brands making a difference, no matter how little. I want to know your style, your motivation, your personal situation, that which makes your story compelling.
So as we chip away at conventional wisdom, breaking all the rules with African fashion will require that we consider two things: the needs of your brand and it’s employees and the needs of your customers. Everyone is looking at your brand to give them meaning and identity. They want to see themselves in the things you make just as I hope you do as well. Only those who break all the rules with African Fashion, those who assume these key revolutionary roles, can create the kind of environment where the brand and the customer comes to know the value of the products you make and use it to shine brightly. The intersection of these two forces-each brands search for it’s value and each customer’s search for value in the products you make, will change the landscape of African Fashion forever, but it will require that we do it our own way. So my goal is to be a catalyst for this change and I urge everyone to join me as we BREAK ALL THE RULES WITH AFRICAN FASHION.
Image: Zuvaa Instagram