Is The Fashion Industry Exploiting African Designers & Looting From African Culture Without Paying Homage?

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Sunday, April 15th, 2012

 The past 24 hours on twitter generated loads of sincere tweets by African creatives who are all concerned about the Fashion industry and it’s growth. Discussions about exploitation and some downright bitchy practices not foreign to the fashion industry was also discussed.  Africans are responsible for the growth of their fashion industry and the truth which is usually bitter must be said. People need to speak out, so that other people are aware and not exploited.

Highlights

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The 9th Annual Columbia University African Economic Forum (@ColumbiaAEF) took place on April 13-14, 2012. With its theme Africa Reclaiming Africa: Changing the Rules of Engagement. The forum also had an Art and Fashion Show & an African Fashion Panel including Arise Magazine Editor & New African Fashion Author Helen Jennings (@hellojennings), media personality Lola Ogunnaike (@lolaogunnaike), Founder and Creative Director of online magazine/boutique Heritage 1960 Enyinne Owunwanne (@Heritage1960), Burkina babe fashion model Georgie Badiel (@GeorgieBadiel) and Max Osterweis of SUNO New York (@SUNONY).

Helen Jennings

Lola Ogunnaike

Enyinne Owunwanne

Georgie Badiel

Max Osterweis

Heritage 1960 owner Enyinne led the discussion in the panel and several key aspects were discussed. Issues like the Condenasts Vogue Magazine fragmenting of the African fashion industry by creating spin offs like Vogue Black and Vogue curvy instead of adding these contents to their main magazines.

The role of African Fashion Magazines in African Fashion was been questioned, probably giving the African print and online media something to think about and a need to review their visions and goals.

The whole conversation which can be followed on twitter via #CUAEF brought up loads of questions to get Africans thinking of a way forward and it also highlighted the plight most African designers undergo in terms of their work and heritage been looted without proper homage or credit in mainstream fashion media.

Lisa Folawiyo the creative director of top African Luxury brand Jewel By Lisa also claimed that Burberry paid her studio a visit sometime in the past. The details of the visit were not stated but one can deduce that it was a spying trip, because a season later Burberry comes up with an African print laden ss12 collection which stole the show but claimed they were not inspired by Africa.

Burberry Prorsum Men’s SS12 Print Shirt

Associate producer of ABC News Wadzania Mhute (@Wadza_M) also joined the conversation and termed Burberry’s claim that they were not inspired by Africa for their ss12 collection as ‘scandalous’

Burberry Prorsum Women’s SS12 Ankara Print Skirt

African online Fashion magazine Graft & Glamour also joined the conversation

Burberry Prorsum Women’s Ankara Print Silk Crepe Dress

The discussions drew to a close with some wise words from Ghanaian Jewelry Designer Anita Horsfall of Anita Quansah London

Anita Quansah London Neckpiece

Burberry ss12 Wedges

The fashion industry is known for copying but is it ethical when you pay a designer a studio visit in the guise of something else, when your real intentions are to soak up as much inspiration as you can and then use it for your collection the next season without giving credit to your source of inspiration.

African creatives have spoken, what do you guys have to say?

DISCLAIMER: Lisa Folawiyo, creative director/owner  of Jewel by Lisa does not accuse any brand of copying her and maintains her tweet was taken out of context.

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