Power, they say, is the ability of one person or a brand to influence another. Influence, they also say, occurs when you are respected, liked, or even desired. These things to me, both power and influence, are the reasons why I believe in the future of African fashion. But where does African fashion stand? Feeling powerless in the global fashion industry as they flock from New York to Paris can create major tensions in the future we want for African fashion and may hinder performance given that key African Fashion designers are not given a spotlight in the same way that designers from New York or London are receiving. The ineffective use of the power of African Fashion in turn leaves people with the feeling that its time has not yet come or that it will never make strides in the same way that fashion from Europe for example, is admired. I humble disagree. See African Fashion perishes if those who have the power, no matter how small, do not exercise it responsibly and this includes, the designers, the bloggers, the photographers, and even the fashion writers, myself included. How these people collectively respond will largely decide whether African fashion faces rapid decline or become as powerful as it can be both literally and figuratively. But even if these group of people never come together, I still believe that above all, fashion from Africa is powerful because of all the people who take the time to individually define what our style means to them, in their own way and via their own time line.
The shift to social media for example, is a radically new kind of “power” with profound implications for Africa’s fashion both socially and economically. Indeed, it represents a profound change in the societal structure as well. Gone are the days of wondering if you would ever see representation of African fashion in magazines like our feature image today from Imepa designs, by Gabon designer Craig Mbouroux (his the guy in the middle). Facebook connected me to his work, something that would have been unheard of in the past decade. See Africans have taken the liberty to represent themselves all over media whether the global fashion industry cares or not. It is this type of ingenuity that to me makes African fashion more powerful than words can ever describe. More powerful than all the Vogues combined? Only time will tell.