Vogue’s Fashion Magazine Empire Still Leaving Out Africa

Black Coffee show during the South African Fashion Week SAFW Spring/Summer collections 2018 at the Sandton City rooftop on April 12, 2018 in Sandton, South Africa. Established in 1997, SA Fashion Week is the only business-to-business platform for fashion, footwear, accessory and jewellery designers to market their collections. (Photo by Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

For far too long, some fashion insiders have claimed regions of “the rest,” the huge expanse including Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa have been treated as an afterthought. Once Vogue Arabia was released, supermodel Naomi Campbell implored the company to create a Vogue Africa through her platform as a contributing editor to British Vogue. The publication has yet to credit African designers for their impact on the global fashion industry, all while creating a central platform for them to attract more consumers.

The Breakdown You Need to Know

Sub-saharan Africa’s apparel and footwear market is reportedly worth $31 billion, according to data by Euromonitor. Even though this represents a small fraction of the global market size, a number of this size should be large enough to warrant a Vogue Africa. Teen Vogue reported the apparent hesitancy to introduce a magazine for the region could be a result of widespread misconceptions about Africa lacking an adequate luxury market. There’s also a false narrative Africa does not have the appropriate infrastructure and staff to properly maintain luxury institutions.

CultureBanx found almost all of the major African cities such as Cairo, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Lagos have fashion weeks, yet designers in these countries are still struggling to find consistent customers. Since they are not making steady income to sustain their work, it makes creating a new collection for fashion week even more taxing.

The McKinsey Global Fashion Index forecasts industry sales growth to nearly triple between 2016 and 2018, from 1.5% to between 3.5% – 4.5%. In some ways the balance of power is shifting in the favor of these emerging fashion markets. So just how big is the market going to become? Coresight Research estimates that the global adaptive clothing market will reach more than $325 billion in 2022.

Most insiders concede that fashion will probably always be anchored in cities like New York, Paris, Milan and London but things are evolving fast. Vogue should take note the needle is moving to other regions especially Africa, empowered by digital connectivity, upwardly mobile consumers and bold business innovation. Emerging market leaders in cities like Lagos are now helping to find a new centre of gravity for the global fashion industry, according to a report from Business of Fashion.

One of the may ways African designers have worked around being left out of major fashion magazines like Vogue, has been by creating successful social media campaigns. Many African designers credit their international success to this, since they cannot rely on mainstream publications to advertise for them.

Nigerian designer Amaka Osakwe’s Maki Oh line has been able to attract the attention of former first lady Michelle Obama and actress Lupita N’yongo. Also, Beyoncé has been spotted in Kisua threads by Ghanaian designer Sam Mensah Jr, helping to catapult the online boutique’s profile. Many African designers credit their international success to this, since they cannot rely on mainstream publications to advertise for them.

Fashion Editorial Mindfulness

Although having a Vogue Africa could benefit designers in the region, some believe having one publication to address the fashion industry of an entire continent simply isn’t enough. Regardless of a whether or not this publication comes to life, the only way to make African designers and their work become mainstream is to have influential retailers and consumers investing in them at the same rate they do for U.S. and European brands.

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