In October 2018, before LIYA was even really fully-formed as an idea, I travelled from my home in Bagamoyo, Tanzania to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for Africa Sourcing and Fashion Week (ASFW).
This was the fourth annual version of ASFW, a four-day tradeshow and conference bringing together hundreds of exhibitors in textiles, trims, apparel, and technology from more than 25 countries.
The theme of the 2018 conference was “Sustainability in Production,” and many of the talks and sessions focused on this theme. I was originally interested in going to the event to explore ways the nonprofit I worked with in Tanzania could use social business to create earned revenue, but I also learned a lot about building a global fashion or accessory brand in the process.
My three biggest takeaways from Africa Sourcing and Fashion Week were:
- According to Fibre2Fashion, “ASFW 2018 is not only a platform for manufacturers from the East African region but for manufacturers from the entire African continent.” However, even at a tradeshow meant to highlight African designers and producers, almost half of the companies there were Chinese, demonstrating just how much the global supply chain is reliant on Chinese manufacturers and imports.
- There were a number of panels and lectures on sustainability and the future of the industry, with guest speakers and panelists from major brands and companies like PVH and H&M. Some of the sessions I attended included “Sustainable Supply Chain Management,” “Sustainability and the Environment,” and “Sustainability in Design.” And although these industry leaders demonstrated at least an outward commitment to improving social and environmental practices, their promises mean nothing without action, transparency, and external auditing.
- One of the highlights of ASFW for me was attending Hub of Africa Fashion Week, a one-night-only fashion show highlighting “the growing talent of African designers and brands to the international market.” The collections were stunning, creative, and incredibly diverse, but what stood out to me the most was this: there are so many up-and-coming designers from across the African continent who combine modern trends with traditional regional styles in a way that reclaims fashion as their own.
Overall, it was an incredibly educational and informative couple of days, and I’m so glad I went. Below check out some of my favourite looks from the show courtesy of HAFW, and let me know what you think in the comments!
Designers: AYNI'S by Aynalem Ayele, KOMETARE by Dawit Ketema, YEFIKIR by Fikirte Addis, SAMRA LEATHER by Samrawit Mersiehazen, MERON ADDIS ABABA by Meron Seid.