As economies across Africa continue to loosen up and pursue a sustainable means of liberating her people from the shackles of poverty and empowering them for global competitiveness and relevance, her people have also shown dexterity and are taking advantage of technology trends and new media to scale their businesses and create new possibilities. Amongst the plethora of ways where young people are making their dreams come alive is the evolving African Fashion Business.
The African fashion business has evolved over the years and is now being powered by young, ambitious designers with creative minds. These lads have taken the responsibility to infuse African fabrics on the runway and showrooms globally. With the increasing popularity of fashion shows in Lagos and Johannesburg for instance, fashion designers are able to clothe Hollywood celebrities like Rihanna, Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Gwen Stephani, Kim Kardashian, Amber Rose and Nicki Minaj amongst several others with beautiful African fabrics.
Now, talking about fashion shows and mobile technology, TECNO Mobile earned a lot of commendations for spearheading the Tech segment of the Fashion Business Series at the recently concluded Lagos Fashion and Design Week in Lagos where the brand’s Deputy Marketing Manager, PR, Sponsorships and Offline Events, Attai Oguche described the role of smartphones and mobile technology in driving businesses especially SMEs as “an unavoidable, key element for SMEs growth in our times”.
While we agree that these developments are very impressive, we should try not to overlook the role which smartphones’ advancement, its penetration, and the new media are playing in making all these feats possible. Though the percentage of smartphone and Internet penetration in the continent is still in its infancy across certain markets, in countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya however, these numbers are quite significant thereby helping bolster the African businesses, Fashion included. In 2016 for instance, Transsion Holdings, the parent company of TECNO Mobile shipped 79.91million mobile phones to Africa out of a total 215.33million phones shipped to the continent in the same year. Statistics show that 95.37million of the total phone shipment were smartphones and interestingly, 9 million of those smartphones were sold by Africa’s leading phone brand – TECNO Mobile, meaning at least 1 in every 9 smartphone users in the continent last year used a TECNO smartphone.
The increase in smartphone penetration has not only led to a more expedient means of communication but it has also translated into increased sales, a cost-effective way of advertising, acquiring customers, mapping designs, getting measurements and even securing investments. With the help of smartphone brands like TECNO Mobile making smartphones very affordable and accessible, ‘fashionpreneurs’ can take advantage of their smartphones to start and scale their businesses with little or no funds. With high-end devices like the Phantom 8, ‘fashionpreneurs’ have successfully moved past the limitations of brick and mortar structures to pilot their businesses. These folks use apps to get their customers measurement, surf the Internet for trendy designs, buy fabric from anywhere in the world, make payments on-the-go, advertise to a wider market based on preferred demographics and even raise investments to further grow their businesses.
Really, the end is not in sight when considering how far mobile technology and smartphones per se will continue to disrupt and shape the future of fashion especially in Africa; after all, a stylish smartphone is currently considered a great part any fashionista’s ensemble.