Africa’s Fashion and Textile Industry’s impact throughout the World


What exactly is fashion, textile and clothing? Why has it become so important in our society nowadays? The most evident answer to this question is that fashion in general is a way of expression and externalization of our traditions and civilization. The way we dress and look tells us a lot about our personality and culture. Clothing is a way to add something more to our person and way of being. This article is mainly focused on the African fashion market, even though this latter cannot be generalized throughout the hole continent; in fact, all African countries have their own characteristics and special features concerning textiles. Fashion is such an open and continuously changing matter. Many famous western designers inspire themselves in the creation of new pieces and collection by looking at African history, populations and cultures. The opposite phenomena can be seen, in which African countries are affected by the trends of European fashion styles and prints. The main differences of fashion in Africa can be found between the rural and urban areas in the whole continent. Trends and fashion movements take less time arriving in the urban areas. While rural areas are reached less frequently and with a slower rhythm.

How is the African textile industry taking part and contributing in the industrialization processes all over the world? What will be the role of its fashion and clothing in the future years?

According to the UNICEF, Africa’s inhabitants are about 1.2 billion people; this number will increase by 2050 by becoming drastically bigger. Due to this increase in population the fashion industry will gain of importance and recognition. However, nowadays the whole industry is hindered in becoming global and expanding due to the lack of capital firstly and secondly because of the lack of advertisement and discovery platforms. Many small to medium industries aim to take advantage and use this opportunity of the whole market in order to create prober jobs and more working possibilities. The market has lots of potential in creating new jobs and overall add benefit and wealth to the continent.

Fashion can be considered in terms of clothes, textiles, prints and so on. These are the keys and fundaments to a valid piece of clothing. Fashion is also understood as the whole process of cotton production, fabrication, dying, printing and designing parts. However, this is not it, in order to get noticed and promote clothing there is a need for more; competition is right behind the corner and the necessity of a good promoting platform and advertisement is crucial. An example of promotion of different brands is the fashion week, a global event in which stylists and brands have the opportunity to present and put on the market their works. Fashion weeks are hosted in many different cities, nevertheless, the most famous ones are still located only in Europe and the US. Among them we have Paris, London, Milan, Berlin and New York. During these past years there has been some initiatives in order to help promotion of the fashion industry in Africa. One of the most famous top models and promoters Naomi Campbell, herself having Jamaican roots, is actively engaged by helping and publicizing Africa’s textiles and fashion. She brought up the idea of launching an African edition of the world famous Vogue Magazine. The proposition to do so was idealized after the Lagos Fashion Week in Nigeria. This is a possibility for Africa to boost their fashion industry and their whole country. The magazine should give Africa the same opportunities that all the other countries taking part in it have. A few years ago the same question occurred in the Middle East, where Vogue Arabia was created. Bonds and relations among other countries and possible cooperation can be the fruit of such an installment.

Another important figure of the African fashion industry is Lisa Folawiyo.She is one of the most famous stylist and designers of the African Continent. She created a global and hybrid design that has become internationally known. She is also known for exhibiting her works and pieces in different countries such as London, Paris, Milan, New York. However, also in the regional areas of the continent like Lagos and Johannesburg. Lisa Folawiyo has been able to incorporate the traditional West African textiles with modern and contemporary techniques. Her career started once she finished her studies and opened her own label called “Jewel by Lisa” in 2005. Thanks to Naomi Campble, Lisa Folawiyo and many other representative figures, Africa fashion and textiles industry has been able to gain in importance and recognition.

In conclusion one can say that the whole fashion industry has been able to improve the socio-economic standards of many African countries by creating new job opportunities and new markets. Being able to have an economic stability is one of the fundaments of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that are to be reached by 2030. In this case the points number eight and nine apply to the whole fashion industry topic. Point 8 focuses on the “Decent Work and Economic Growth” that can be improved through the expansion of the whole fashion and textile market. Point 9 applies to fashion in the sense of “Innovation and Industry”. Innovations inside markets are important in order for a firm of industry to be able to continuously improve in the production ways and techniques.


Adinolfi, M. C. and Tichaawa T. M. (2018). The Importance of the Fashion Industry in the South African Tourism Context.






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