But with all the giddiness surrounding the attention being lavished on the Continent’s sartorial promise, it’s hard to ignore the “Let them eat cake” vibe associated with bringing the rarefied world of fashion shows to a continent plagued with poverty and joblessness. The average Ghanaian earns $3100 a year—and that is among the highest in West Africa.
Fashion is an acutely luxurious pursuit in Ghana in particular. With ready-to-wear shops few and far between, paid patrons on the hunt for style pamper themselves with custom-made looks. Most consumers can only afford to shop “Obroni Wawu” or “white man’s deads” in Ghana’s “bend down boutiques”—slang for the bins of secondhand clothing items (usually donated by America- and Europe-based relief organizations) customers have to bend down to sort through.