African Fashion: Africa’s changing textile industry

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Museum of Ethnology, Vienna, October 18, 2012

Panel debate:
  • Kojo Taylor | Pan African Forum


African Designers on the international stage

African designers are developing an intriguing aesthetic. They relate both to the wealth of craft and art traditions of the continent as well as the trends of the European and American fashion. Fashion designers like Sy Omou or Alphadi have become players on the international stage, presenting their products in Paris, London or New York. African fashion weeks are celebrated in Europe and Africa with great success. Vogue Magazine wrote about it and Michelle Obama has been photographed with outfits of the Nigerian designer Duro Oluwa.

Downfall of the African textile industry

While African designers found their individual success models, tens of thousands of jobs in the African textile and clothing industry were lost. Ghana once employed 25,000 workers in its industry. Today 2,000 jobs are left. Imported cheap products from Asia and used clothing from Europe are accelerating the decline of the African textile and clothing industry.

Economic integration

The debate links the individual success stories of African Fashion to the structural changes in the African textile and clothing industry in conjunction. How can designers and the industry become successful together? How can sustainable structures be created? What are the marketing opportunities in local markets? What about the Diaspora? How can the “backward and forward linkages” (economic integration) and regional integration be strengthened?


Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation.



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