High-profile delegates in attendance at this year’s South Africa Investment Conference (SAIC) spotlighted the creative and tourism industries as avenues offering economic growth and job creation potential. Growing interest in local fashion, creativity and travel validates African Fashion International’s decades-long investment into this burgeoning landscape.
Over the last ten years, AFI has invested over ZAR100 million into the promotion and marketing of fashion designers on the continent. Added to this are AFI’s investments towards building digital infrastructure for the exposure, aggregation and distribution of pan-African fashion for global audiences. By nurturing the expansion of African fashion there has been simultaneous, complementary efforts that incentivise investments in travel, film and clothing manufacturing.
By taking the stories of Africa to the world, AFI has injected much-needed diversity onto runways in New York and Paris and has shifted narratives about Africa to inspire global curiosity and journeys into the continent. The resulting outcome of AFI’s investments is thriving international demand for Africa’s creativity, as well as the development of economically viable networks for small businesses operating within the creative and retail sectors, and across physical and digital spheres.
The fashion industry is a labour-intensive contributor to economic growth, encompassing a value chain that employs more than 80 million people worldwide. This has been the driving force of AFI’s initiatives, understanding the potential to create jobs for a creatively inclined, growing youth population across Africa.
AFI’s other successes include developing design talent, with industry names Thebe Magugu and Rich Mnisi entering AFI platforms fresh from design school and growing their craft into economically sustainable businesses. Most recently, the AFI Fastrack Young Designer of the Year 2021 Shamyra Moodley was propelled into the global market at the Forbes 3050 Summit in Abu Dhabi, becoming one of the biggest sellers amongst the high-profile guests in attendance. This discovery of local and pan-African talent is diverting investments in Africa from resources and minerals and into this lesser-acknowledged ecosystem.
Identifying and promoting African fashion has yielded opportunities for local artists and manufacturers along the way. Together with musicians, dancers, models, heritage sites, cultural organisations and chefs of African cuisine, fashion offers a central meeting place for the creative and tourism sector to collaborate, strengthen and flourish.
AFI looks forward to bolstering Africa’s influence in global fashion together with the Department of Trade and Industry, private sector companies, as well as the African Development Bank, all of whom emphasised the promises held within these complimentary sectors at the 2022 SAIC.