On this week’s, ‘CNN Marketplace Africa’, host Eleni Giokos checks in at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Cape Town, South Africa.
Giokos speaks to the people behind the shows and learns that African fashion designers face huge challenges as they bring their creations to market.
African fashion is a growing industry as Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the founder of Fashion Africa International tells Giokos: “If you look at the South African market on its own, it’s worth about $4 billion and will be growing to $6 billion by 2030. And our local designers that make ready to wear clothes? That market is worth $400 million and will grow to $600 million.”
Although African designers often make waves around the world, getting their designs into stores is challenging and costly. Sourcing locally-made materials is one way of managing input costs, but for some high-fashion designs, this isn’t a suitable option.
Chidinma Obairi, a Nigerian designer, explains to the programme: “Most of the things we use we import them because if you want very good quality products to work with, you know something you can use in a luxury fabric or dress, it has to be imported. But then we try as much as possible to make use of what we can get here in Nigeria.”
‘Marketplace Africa’ hears that it’s not only the high cost of importing and producing materials which proves a challenge, but also the global competition faced by the designers.
Gavin Rajah, a South African designer, talks about this global competition: “Our rate of labour is slightly cheaper so we can compete, but I’m certainly not going to try to sell t-shirts and try to compete with Donna Karen or Calvin Klein who sell far more t-shirts than I can.”
The Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Cape Town provides a great platform for the African designers hoping to gain attention and get their designs to market. Moloi-Motsepe explains: “We know that Johannesburg and Cape Town are fashion capitals on the continent… Once designers showcase their goods, they want to take it to market and we are able to facilitate that quickly.”
Despite this, many more obstacles remain and Obairi explains to Giokos: “The instability of electricity and production materials, availability of staff, raw materials, exportation and importation… It’s just a whole lot of problems that we’re facing right now, but we’re trying to make it work because we know it will be better with time.”
‘CNN Marketplace Africa’ airs Friday 19 May at 17:15 SAST on CNN International
The programme also airs at the following times:
Saturday 20 May at 17:15 SAST and 02:00 SAST
Sunday 21 May at 08:15 SAST and 03:00 SAST
Monday 22 May at 18:45 SAST