Realistic Fashion Makes Sense in this Globalised World

Fashion | By Gilmore Tee, Social Entrepreneur | 02 October 2015

Globalisation has made the world smaller than it used to be. Back in the day, it would take forever for one to know what was happening in Holland or Tanzania. Globalisation as a concept has brought people, villages, neighbourhoods, cities, countries and regions closer to each other. I actually think in theory, it’s a good thing that the world is being shrunk into a little village. It sounds really pretty that everyone is equal and has the “same” access to commodities that are available for all to use. In reality however, globalization has benefitted more of the first world countries than the developing ones. But again should the first, fast countries be blamed for that?

Brands like Nike have managed to penetrate the furthest areas such as Tsholotsho in Zimbabwe and the brand keeps growing every day. The beauty about clothing and branding in first world countries is that they make clothes for an average individual, making it easy to reach an already existing market. Now, globalisation brought the internet to our doorsteps; we are able to see what is trending and to know what is happening on the other side of the world. With this in mind, we are able to allow that part of the world to have access to our own brands and products, only if we invest in the quality we produce.

The question then is; are our Afrikan designers aware of the platforms that exist for them to take their brands across the globe? Rather, are many of them equipped enough to penetrate the global clothing market? The question can be thrown back and forth, but the answer will remain with those that run fashion labels. With the availability of online stores, retail stores and the internet, it has been made easy for one to reach their customers and grow their brand. A perfect example of this rise is that of South Afrika’s Thula Sindi, whose brand is available on online stores and he recently opened a physical store for people to walk in and purchase his clothes.

Just like a few more designers that have grasped the concept of being realistic, Thula Sindi’s brand has grown in the past years. When you see his collection on the run way, the first thing that comes to mind is, “I can see that on the streets of Bulawayo or Lagos”. Once a designer has managed to communicate that to you as an audience or potential client, then they are bound to grow. 

I’m uncomfortable with a designer who tells a client what to wear, before they listen to their needs. It’s like you are going to bang their head with that scissors in their workshop and tell them, “No”. While it is important to have an identity as a designer, it is also important to realise that the client is king. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying you should then tolerate the clients that come with cut out pictures of outfits and ask you to reproduce the same outfit. If you see yourself do that, you might as well subscribe to tailoring or rather stop. Listen to your client, tell them what you can do or sketch what they have in mind and add your label’s identity and deliver the product. It is the same client that will take your original brand to the extreme parts of the world.

We have over a billion consumers worldwide that wake up in the morning and try to figure out what to wear to different occasions. Why then is it that our own fashion brands seem to have difficulties reaching out to that already existing audience? I might have an answer. Designers need to realise that their outfits need to be commercial and realistic for the same person in Tsholotsho to want to wear it. Just like Nike, the same impact can be for Maita Marimo, a Zimbabwean clothing brand & Abrantie The Gentleman, a clothing label from Ghana. The key is to take advantage of globalisation and reach the already
existing market.