Earlier this year, Editor in Chief of Italian Vogue’s “L’Uomo”, Franca Sozzani spearheaded a “Rebranding Africa” campaign that took over Vogue’s May 2012 issue (Sozzani 2012). Several months later, in November, during the International Herald Tribune (IHT) Luxury Conference, the focus was on “The Promise of Africa.” Now, coming out in Spring 2013, will be Diesel’s newest collaboration with Edun, the brand promoting trade not aid in Africa. Not to mention the emerging African designers, the growing population and rising economy that seem to fill the newspapers and magazines, the inevitable question is asked; is Africa on the rise to becoming the next fashion hub?
Africa, a continent full of resources and people, it is a wonder why only now the world taken a serious look at its vast ability to become the next phase giant after Asia. With its growing market for trade, increasing economy, and a need for some sympathetic social grace, it would seem like a clear choice for businesses to invest. Yet, the continent remains almost untouched by investors due to the risks Africa poses from its troubled history and present issues. The country so rich in resources is historically known for war and famine. As one of the most politically corrupt continents with a mismanaged government, economic prosperity has been strained in Africa. But, as fashion houses are considering these risks, they are overwhelmed by the possibility of prosperity when evaluating the complex pros and cons of Africa as it gradually reveals itself to what could be, a fashion do or a fashion don’t.
AFRICA: A FASION DO- TAP INTO AFRICA’S VAST RESOURCES, GROWING ECONOMY, AND TRADE
Africa used to be seen as a defenseless and poverty stricken country, but now they are slowly growing away from their historic reputation and are turning their resource rich country into one that is known for growth in economics and trade. Results from, The Economist, in “Africa: Open for Business”, forecast growth to hit over 8-9% in some countries of the region of North, South, East and West Africa (The Economist 2012). Africa is currently at a growth rate that is faster than any other region in the world aside from Asia, specifically, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa (The Economist 2012). In Sozzani’s interview with Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General for the United Nations he states, “Africa does not need charity- Africa needs investment and partnership.” (Sozzani 2012)
Taking advantage of this growing market is the symbiotic partnership flourishing between Africa and Asia, especially from China and India. While Asia is reaching its peak in the economy, their growth is being sustained by Africa’s natural resources in oil, specifically from Nigeria and Angola (The Economist 2012). Within the past decade, trade between Africa and China has increased up to 12.4% of all of Africa’s exports to China (The Economist 2012). Although not only investing in oil from Africa, China is also already participating in the manufacturing industries within Africa, creating industrial parks in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa (The Economist 2012).
Aside from oil, Africa is also still well known for their exotic mines filled with diamonds, copper, iron and chrome, and are being invested in from other countries worldwide especially within Europe. South Africa is still the European Union’s largest trading partner, in which Europe is expanding its investments and trade from sole commodities and diversifying into manufactured products like machinery and transport equipment (European Commission Trade 2012). Tantamount to this, was the recently implicated establishment of a free trade area that covers 90% of the trade between the European Union and South Africa (European Commission Trade 2012). Other than these known land mines, Africa’s trade in agriculture is also increasing and is forecasted to becoming a major food