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Forum Seeks Ways to Rebuild African Fashion in Post COVID-19

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(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic bites harder on businesses in Africa, stakeholders and entrepreneurs in the fashion industry have taken a bold step towards rebuilding and fortifying their sector.

 The disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic on global value chains and its impact on African businesses is already evident across the continent.  

As factories close their doors and border closures and travel restrictions interrupt supply chains, the workers, the most vulnerable and lowest paid people in the fashion supply chain, have been left to feel the worst effects.  

Participants at the second webinar organized by the African Development Bank’s Fashionomics Africa, have reiterated to need to build more resilient value chains through innovative business models that will keep garments in use longer, use renewable materials and recycle old clothes into new products.  

The Fashionomics Africa initiative webinar which was hosted in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), had no fewer than eighty-eight attendees.

The forum featured a panel composed of industry experts from Parsons School of Design in New-York, the UK-based charity, Ellen MacArthur Foundation  and the creative minds behind sustainable African fashion brands, Orange Culture, Mariama Fashion Production and Qaaldesigns.

The cardinal goal of the bank’s Fashionomics Africa platform is to enable African entrepreneurs operating in the Textile, Apparel and Accessories industry to create and grow their businesses, with a focus on women and youth.

In addition, the initiative intends to contribute to the industry by increasing the number of entrepreneurs accessing markets through e-commerce capabilities, boosting their access to finance, technical and business skills and forging strategic partnerships with key contributors.

Through the Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and Mobile App, the bank is also analyzing the impact of the textile sector on climate change and environment to deploy climate-friendly solutions in Africa.  

Lending credence to this assertion, Brendan McCarthy of the Parsons School of Design said digital tools have become a phenomenon and have revolutionized the way the fashion industry works, adding that Parsons School of Design is current working closely with the bank to leverage digital tools to support the African textile and fashion industry.

“Covid-19 forced our world to rethink our system. We can absolutely do this in an excellent way. It’s a question of interconnection and understanding. My waste could be someone else’s resources. What is needed is collaboration and breaking down the typical silos fashionpreneurs face in the industry”, McCarthy added.

Also in his contribution, Bintou Sadio Diallo, who spoke on behalf of the African Development Bank, noted that African fashion entrepreneurs see in the pandemic and the acceleration of digital tools, an opportunity to reconceptualize and better educate designers, but also consumers.
Speaking in a similar vein, a representative of Orange Culture, Adebayo Oke-Lawal harped on the need to develop and nurture a sustainable fashion industry in Africa.

“My dream is to develop a healthy fashion industry in Africa. We need to be able to rely and build ourselves from our own system. At the end of the day, we have so much that needs to be done and we can’t do it alone”, Oke-Lawal stressed.


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