100 Days of African fashion by Diana Opoti
After a very successful campaign last year, one of the most recognizable figure in African fashion, media personality, fashion blogger and supporter of everything pan Africanism ‘Diana Opoti’ is redoing her “100 days of African fashion”. Originally featured in TAP ISSUE 5 The digital campaign, presented in her own style across various social media platforms - features African designers, brands made by global Africans and lines inspired by Africa. After starting off as a platform to promote African fashion as more than just wax prints, the campaign has now grown to be an annual event that encompasses designers from all 54 countries. TAP reached out to Diana about her campaign and we were pleased she wanted to share her journey with us on this particular project… Diana Opoti takes over from here
100 days of African fashion - The Background
In 2012, as a producer, I created the television format “Designing Africa” to celebrate a new generation of fashion designers on the continent by sharing their stories and collections. To film the series, I travelled the continent to some of Africa’s top fashion weeks and documented both runway shows and interviews with designers. The show was aired across the continent on satellite network (DSTV) and following a successful run of the television series, I wanted to make African fashion more accessible to consumers and so I created the digital campaign, 100 Days of African Fashion (100DAF) commencing June.23.2014
The campaign is run in a personal style diary format and lasts the duration of 100 Days during which I wear different African brands and share these looks with followers across my social media platforms. #100DAF
100 Days of African fashion by Diana Opoti
In it’s first run, 100DAF begun with clothes I previously owned from African designers that I had collected from my travels. It featured a lot of African print textiles but I knew there is more beyond wax print, thus, this year I want to show design outside common misconception about “African Fashion”.
Moreover, I run a fashion “brand” consultancy company so it is important for me now that the campaign’s continuity is relevant to the needs of the consumer market. This year, we are listening to concerns of those who follow the campaigns. We invite followers to like the pages of the brands we feature, we also engage designers to interact with the audience and grasp feedback from the featured posts among other issues.
In addition, 100DAF was previously run as a personal project but it soon became an additional channel for designers to connect with their potential consumers. With this in mind, I quickly saw the need to feature more current collections and that is a strong component of this years campaign. We are also looking at designers from more countries, trying to make the campaign more representative of the continent and designers living in the diaspora and all across the world. Other changes we’ve made are that we’ve now included a better photographer and we now have a “more managed” digital campaign team working behind the scenes to satisfy questions from followers.
Challenges facing African fashion industry
100DAF has served as a useful tool for understanding what the consumers want or expect from African Fashion brands and so the campaign has served as a great resource for research. Some of the biggest challenges we’ve encountered include the following.
- As a pan African campaign, we receive clothes from around the continent and even as far as the US and Europe. The high custom taxes charged to receive packages are a burden.
- In addition, delays at customs and the postal service means that its difficult for brands to have reliable delivery timelines to consumers for purchased orders.
- Sizing still remains a challenge on the continent – are we UK or US 12, which metric for M, S, L?
- Most designers still manage most aspects of their businesses themselves- so responses to orders/inquiries are often delayed – a factor which greatly affects consumer confidence.
- Consumers products Accessibility is also still a challenge
It’s imperative that these issues are addressed if we are to trade across the continent.
I’m generally impressed with how fashion on the continent has evolved as a whole and how consumers are eager to wear local fashion. Platforms that showcase African brands have diversified aesthetics and there is a genuine offering across medium contemporary fashion and luxury segments across womenswear, jewelry and handbags
To complete the campaign in itself is an accomplishment for me. Last year I featured 137 unique brands; this year I’m aiming for at least 200 African fashion brands. In addition, my team and I are working with a couple of designers featured to be part of a pop-up event early 2016 aimed to sell their spring 2016 collections.
What's your opinion on the current state of African fashion, more so in Kenya?
Fully acknowledging the strides we’ve made as a continent in African fashion, the success of independent fashion brands will be dependent on how accessible they make their products. Bloggers, personalities, artists and celebrities have contributed to making visible amazing designs but we need to convert this publicity into access of products.
I wear African brands every day, for me this is not a publicity stunt. It’s a way of life I want others to emulate. The campaign is designed to create a period of anticipation across the 100 days – long enough to introduce new brands, showcase emerging ones and “listen” to consumers as we feature African fashion a day at a time. At the end of this season’s campaign – I will have showcased 200 + days of African Fashion. The campaign will continue annually with improvements including offline and online platforms to cross promote featured brands.
In the future, it is my vision to include menswear and also do a series of collaborative posts with personalities and key bloggers on the continent. Key to note, 100 days of African fashion complements other work I do in promoting African fashion brands and runs concurrently with my fashion consultancy.
Yours truly, Diana Opoti | Questions by Moses Mutabaruka
Follow Diana on Instagram @Dianaopotipr
Originally featured in TAP ISSUE 5