I have a dream, that one day African Fashion will…

So yesterday was a national public holiday in the U.S and it was in celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all he did to help pave the way for civil rights for African Americans in the U.S. As we reflect on the life and legacy of this great man, I am reminded of his “I Have a Dream” speech which was delivered in the summer of 1963 during the March on Washington, a rally for civil rights and against discrimination of African Americans in the US. About 250,000 people gathered on the National Mall to listen to him speak and more than 50 years later, the speech remains potent and moving and so applicable to the state of African Fashion today. Here are four reasons why I have a dream that one day, African Fashion will become as relevant as fashion from anywhere else…

martin luther king

  1. We are one billion strong and more if you include the diaspora: Africans are everywhere, whether on the continent or in other parts of the world, even one of our own is the President of the United States because if you know anything about Africans, a child belongs to their father’s lineage first and foremost. So we are to big to ignore, and our purchasing power is growing thanks to the descriptions of us being this emerging market with unparalleled influence that is yet to be tapped by anyone. As we keep growing in numbers and in buying power, like consumers elsewhere around the world, we too have a strong demand for products, African fashion items that will meet our specific needs. Thus, I have a dream that one day African Fashion will realize its full potential given it’s citizens scattered all over the world.
  2. We are much more than a theme: Africa has always been a source of inspiration for many western designers who love to create collections, not for Africans, but for rich people that they believe long to connect with Africa from afar. We are not only about bone necklaces, or Masai beading, Kikuyu textiles, feathers and fringed jackets hand-painted with geometric designs made to look “primitive, tribal, spiritual, yet regal”. So I have a dream that one day African Fashion will teach the world about its beautiful culture, not as a source of inspiration, but as a way of life.
  3. We mean business with African fashion and not charity: As African fashion designers continue to work to establish themselves as  leaders in the global fashion industry, they are asking for capital and not charity. Dr King’s speech which had some business undertone personified this to the fullest. See we the people, who cannot wait to see African Fashion thrive {in the words of Dr. King) in a sense, we’ve come to the world wide web to cash a check with African Fashion. Many have given us a “bad check” that came back marked “insufficient funds.” Well in 2016, I have a dream that one day African Fashion will be as profitable as any fashion industry. We are declaring that enough is enough and if you want to help African Fashion soar to new heights, give us capital, not charity.
  4. The time for African Fashion is now: Thanks to the social media sites, African Fashion is finally here to stay. While many have tried to help establish African Fashion, I am sure that you would agree that none have been as successful as introducing African fashion to the world the way sites like instagram have done. Personally, I started this site because no one speaks about African fashion, about our struggles or our achievement. I will not be able to do so on my own if not for the influence of social media. We still have a long way to go, but thanks to social media, I have a dream that one day African Fashion will make a meaningful impact in the lives of people near and far.
I am happy to declare my dreams for African Fashion, one that I hope will go down in history as the greatest movement in fashion created by everyday people like you and me, who are not afraid to veer from script as we stimulate meaningful change in the global fashion industry. I have a dream that this vision for African Fashion and the change are long overdue in in 2016, we have come to cash our check!!!

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