More than 4.5 billion active internet users, or 60% of the world’s population, have an online presence, according to Statista, an online market and consumer data firm. Tapping that audience is critical to grow businesses and brands. A recent Fashionomics webinar brought together fashion and textile industry experts to explore ways to leverage digital media platforms to boost African fashion.
The 31 May webinar included a panel discussion on the links between fashion and digital media.
“From now on, it is just about creating consciousness and giving space to all those projects and creatives that are willing to go in that direction – and through media, you get messages, awareness, consciousness,” said panelist Sara Sozzani Maino, deputy editor in chief of Vogue Italia and head of Vogue Talents.
Also on the panel were experts and creatives from Facebook, Parsons School of Design in New York; the fashion media company The Business of Fashion; New African Woman magazine and the founder of Dakar Design Hub.
Digital platforms like Instagram and Facebook can serve as online ateliers and runways – playing a pivotal role in African fashion entrepreneurs growing their businesses, and advancing the “Made in Africa” movement.
“Social media is one of the most relevant marketing channels and a strategic tool for African fashion brands to stay relevant, interact with their customers and formulate effective strategies to increase sales,” said Bintou Sadio Diallo, cultural and creative industries expert at the African Development Bank.
Morin Oluwole, global head of luxury at Facebook, said collaboration with media, publishers and creators could ensure alignment with the industry’s different priorities and make sure that African talent finds a global audience. “It is important to widen the scope of customers and clients in Africa but also across the diaspora,” she added.
“As an entrepreneur, it is key to stay true to yourself, to your DNA. Consistency is essential in working with the media industry,” said reGina Jane Jere, editor at the New African Woman magazine.
Sophie Nzinga Sy, fashion designer and founder of Dakar Design Hub, stressed the importance of agencies specializing in media relations and brand consulting. “We don’t have enough of those support systems on the continent to link us up with celebrities and media,” she noted, adding that the situation has evolved as there are many platforms available for designers to showcase their work and tell their stories authentically.