‘Investors need to understand the heart of a brand’
Disu advises investors to have patience, think long term, and be prepared to work with governments and private-sector businesses.“Investors should partner with players who understand the entire value chain, from smallholder farmers to fashion designers and retailers. Traditional fashion retail is still in its infancy in Sub-Saharan Africa, so it’s probably the toughest market in the world. However, this creates an opportunity for investors.”
With African brands reaching global catwalks, designers believe textile and apparel suppliers need to establish long-term partnerships with buyers, and improve productivity. The hope is that national governments will support this by subsidising new equipment and training, as well as increasing access to finance for entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Meanwhile, Africa’s fashion industry continues to develop apace.“For sure, Africa is the next big thing in fashion,” laughs Ndiouly. “I meet a lot of people in Europe who are so interested in African fashion, because the market here is so saturated, yet in Africa there’s nothing. Africa is the future.”
Above: Buuky House designs Right: Paco Ndiouly, the brand’s founder