Everyone loves to wear clothes that accomplish more than the utilitarian purpose of covering the body. From the posh window displays on Rodeo Drive to the highly rated network programs like Project Runway and Fashion Star, people love to wear clothes that are both artistically-creative and well-fitting. The same is true for many developing countries in Africa, where extremely talented fashion designers are looking to sell their products both at home and abroad. These African designers highlight the opportunities that fashion has created for many individuals living in poverty stricken areas. Here are 3 ways that fashion design encourages economic development in Africa.
1. It encourages entrepreneurship – For many business-minded entrepreneurs trying to overcome severe financial constraints, fashion design encourages economic development in Africa by allowing anyone with an eye for fashion an opportunity to generate income both locally and – via the internet – internationally. The market for well-designed clothes is unique based upon the simple fact that despite a global economic slowdown, consumers will always have a need for clothes. Furthermore, if a particular market for clothing is lower than usual, innovative entrepreneurs can take advantage of previously untapped overseas and emerging markets as a means of increasing sales.
2. It stimulates the local economy – For Malawian designer Lilly Alfonso, her company Lillies Creations employs 7 people from a region currently plagued with severe currency devaluation and financial strain. Fashion design encourages economic development in Africa through the employment of talented tailors, textile artists, aspiring models, and support staff necessary for the operation of large design studios; along with the resulting sales opportunities for local fabric retailers and production facilities. Fashion designers help to bolster African economies by the infusion of capital both from the sales and expansion of their small businesses into new markets.
3. It serves as a sustainable business model – Fashion design encourages economic development in Africa due to the inherent sustainability of the clothing and apparel industry. Through the local farmers providing the raw materials, the weavers who construct the fabrics, and the merchants who sell the fabrics in local markets, fashion is an industry that employs many people whose entire economic well being is contingent upon the quarterly sales of the designers. The sustainability of fashion design allows for most of the profits and accompanying investments to go back into the community, along with the eco-friendly methods of cultivation practiced by many African farmers.
In regards to how fashion design encourages economic development in Africa, designer Lilly Alfonso optimistically advises “if you know that you can do it, don’t stop it.”