Leadership (Abuja)

23 February 2013

West Africa: Ecowas Fashion Week - the African Dream

Africa is about to be hit by an epoch-making fashion event if what we are hearing is anything to go by. According to reliable sources, plans for ECOWAS Fashion Week 2013 is currently in the pipeline and the event will not only benefit ECOWAS countries, but the continent as well.

Founded in 1975 with its head office in Abuja, Nigeria, The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group that comprised fifteen countries, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Aim Of ECOWAS Fashion Week 2013

In recent years, the fashion world has witnessed the upsurge of African fabrics like Akosombo, Akwete, Ama serwaa, Ankara, Aso-oke, Bonsu, Tie & dye, Kente to mention but a few, making rave reviews in top-notch fashion shows in Johannesburg, London, Milan, New York, Paris and other major fashion capitals in the world.

A-list British actress Thandie Newton recently stepped out in a Jewel by Lisa jumpsuit from S/S 2012 Collection, and Solange Knowles recently sported a Derek Lam Spring 2013 ensemble.

The afore-mentioned fabrics have become the toast of the fashion world so much so that other A-list celebrities like Alicia Keys, Angela Simmons, Beyonce, Catt Sadler, Gwen Stefani, June Ambrose, Rihanna, Kelis, and numerous others have been spotted in these fabrics.

We recall last year that models strutted the runway for Balenciaga's Spring 2013 at Paris Fashion Week with fabrics like Dutch wax prints and Ankara on display. We have not forgotten the Burberry Prorsum Incident too. Reliable findings point to the fact that these fabrics are largely produced overseas by non-African manufacturers and sold to buyers over there.

But from now, ECOWAS Fashion Week 2013 will seek to address the seething issues that bedevil manufacturers, buyers, marketers and designers in Africa from making gains from these fabrics, especially with countries like Ghana and Nigeria, who hardly tap into the full dividends of fabric production.

Also, the Fashion Week will seek to harness a formidable enterprise across ECOWAS countries and beyond as this event will serve as employment and empowerment for the youths. The organisers of ECOWAS Fashion Week maintain that this show is not going to be just a "fashion show" of fanfare and razzmatazz where gaily-dressed guests come, watch and clap.

Organisers are already in talks with top buyers who will come and buy pieces from participating African designers, accessories makers and entrepreneurs during the Fashion Week.

Calendar:

The planned date for ECOWAS Fashion Week is 2nd-5th October, 2013. Talks are ongoing as regards the appropriate venue and schedules for the events. Tentatively, fifty designers are expected to showcase during the four-day event. Also, models (both local and international) will be cast in fifteen ECOWAS countries for this show.

Already, ECOWAS, L'Oreal Paris, WesAir, a telecoms giant and two top banks are being tipped as the major sponsors of the fashion show. More companies and sponsors will be expected to support this venture so as to make the planned Fashion Week a toast to global investors and not just the respective governments of Economic Community Of West African States.

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