Difficult American, European Markets Have Black Designers Packing for Africa
ACCRA, GHANA — Facing saturated, recession-strapped American and European markets that favor established high-fashion designers and mass market retailers like H&M and Target, some black designers are taking their business to Africa in hopes of finding success. London-based partners Sena Dale Mortoo and Joshua Umoren are among this wave. Taking advantage of the upcoming Ghana Fashion and Design Week (GFDW) sponsored by Vogue Italia, the duo will officially launch their new label Morts and More on the Continent.
“I was in Ghana over the New Year to really assess what the market was like,” Mortoo explained over email. “Within a couple of days I met a number of parties who wanted our products or knew of people who would be more than interested.” The duo hopes their GFDW show will go a long way in helping them gain name recognition and new clientele.
Morts and More is just one of eight foreign-based black labels showing at GFDW. Prospecting for new customers, designers will be flying in from Texas, Montreal, Milan and other international cities to present their wares to press and potential consumers in Accra’s tony Movenpick Hotel.
Though Africa is a continent with some of the weakest purchasing power and lowest incomes in the world, Arise Magazine editor-in-chief Helen Jennings believes it’s smart business for fashion designers to put a stake in the ground. “It’s a small but significant market that will grow at a rapid rate over the coming years,” Jennings told us. “Getting your foot in the door early is the canny thing to do.”