Why International Fashion Buyers Are Saying No to African Fashion Week (Repost)
“African designers do not understand how the buyer culture works” (obviously not all, but almost all). Accra Fashion Week article.
This article is not to say a number of African designers in Africa have not struck lucky here or there, but speaking generally. The world is constantly evolving, Africa is in it’s own unique spot and at a pivotal point with potential to revolutionize the fashion world.
Buyers do not jump up and go to a country looking for a show to enjoy, they go to places looking to crack business deals with fashion brands, 9 times out of 10 if they are not at a fashion week you are part of, it most likely means there is no brand that was ringing bells loud enough for them to attend.
Fashion weeks in the main capital are not as they are here, where one super man or woman organizing an event and expected to carry the success, promotion, and deals for some 20-30 designers, just the thought of that is ludicrous.
Fashion Week in the west are a compilation of various shows in various building put together by the brands, hiring their own models, spending their own money, seeking buyers themselves that will take an interest in their items, and executing their own event promotion external to the fashion week schedule. Unfortunately in Africa, our fashion industry is not flourishing enough for our designers to hold independent fashion shows as such where they pay for all models, venue, promotion and all, unless they find sponsors, and so our designers are made to rely these events that bring all designers to the light.
Unfortunately, by paying a small fee to be part, designers already begin to feel disarmed from any other responsibility of furthering their brand.
They hardly work on their pre and post press coverage, they do not work on their guest invitations, they do not work on their creative input into the shows, nor doing the right amount of branding to appeal to designers, and when the event is closed, some question the organizers for their success, mind you we have not even opened dialogue about the buyers yet,..4 reasons why international fashion buyers turn a blind eye to African fashion
Buyers Are Swarmed By Many Creatives Even In Their Own Country:
Buyers are swarmed with designers in their own country whom they have never bought from before, or who they bought from previously or even sometimes, whom they are buying from now attempting to have them buy more, and so forth. Buying from new clients and countries is a great hassle unless they are sure they can secure the process or they are seeing something totally different and profitable.
What have you done to make the buyer know stocking your item would be profitable? Are you highly in demand where his shops are based?
Another reason is Most Africans Do Not Create Fashion By Seasons:
Buyers like to ensure what they will stock in their shops will not be out of fashion or bought elsewhere before the time you are able to produce the quantities they need. Most designers showcase fashion that is already out in public that they are ALREADY selling.
If you have a collection that is well publicized and sold prior to our fashion week, And a buyer visits your show and purchases in bulk, here is what happens. When the bulk orders are made, delivery and all such is done, it might take another 4 months before they are available in stores, by this time your items are out of fashion and really nothing new being that they have been out in public for over 5 months or so.
Stocking clothes that are out of fashion is a big turn off to buyers. If you are very dedicated to seek buyers, do not shy away from showcasing a collection that is set to be released for a later date.
Buyers Don’t Buy Designs They Buy Brands:
Buyers are not your marketers, you do not sit down and make a nice dress and hope they will buy it and promote it for you for sales simply because it is nice. They are more like distributors hoping by the time your clothes hits their shop you have aroused interest or some demand from the general public.
A film company makes a film and the cinema will buy the rights at a certain price to show that movie in their venue. The cinema is not looking to purchase a film nobody wants to see and then start promoting because they will lose money if the tickets don’t sell, they look to buy a film the audience are desperate to watch. Meaning that film producers need to do excess promotion via various avenues in order to appeal to buyers, one various review magazines, blogs and TV shows.
This is your relationship with the buyer, “If I take your clothes to stores in the UK, do you expect me to start promoting you there?”- The Buyer
Fashion might be luxury but it will also forever be a necessity and to those involved its business. Despite the situation of the world people will always wear clothes.
Despite how funky a creative you are, buyers are living lavishly in a world of endless sales, so why should they buy your clothes? What promotional and branding efforts have you executed to ensure that people will walk into their stores asking for your brand before it’s even stocked?
What work have you done to ensure that you are in media that their clients are tuned in to?
Most African brands are not known beyond the fashion circles in their own countries. If one wishes for buyers to pay attention to their work, they need to execute a hefty amount of PR and promotion and when you do, believe it or not, the buyers will contact you themselves to attend your show, just like a cinema will contact a movie company it doesn’t know for a well demanded movie before it’s released.
You can’t ask for international buyers if you are not working towards an international brand.
Most African Fashion Designer’s Do Not Follow World Trends:
I am not so much of a believer in following world trends, nevertheless, clothes in mainstream shops and in fashion magazines sometimes can be seen to have similar themes running through them, buyers again are business men. They follow what they feel is trendy in public, whether is generated by press or authentic.
The question is how are you infusing the world trends into your upcoming collection?
Africa needs to be more innovative with how we approach our fashion weeks. The list of points above was simply an extract from one of a number of documents provided to participating designers in Accra Fashion Week. Others include, putting together collections, creating the right look books, pricing your items and much more.
Read full article at AFW