The story for us at Africana started about 10 years ago. The ideal way to build a fashion business that would transcend what fashion was in Africa and also challenge a popular narrative about African attires – the kaftan to be specific. We have gradually shifted and designed our way closer to the goal of building African attire into a globally accepted piece of fashion, just like the suit became centuries ago.
To achieve our vision for the African fashion future, we’ve ensured that in our telling of African stories we designed a system that doesn’t just scream ‘this is from Africa’, but one that employs minimalism and elegance to feature patterns, and symbolism that has true African root.
However, for us to sell this idea to the global fashion ecosystem we’ve taken strategic actions that have served the brand in the last decade. One of the sure innovations was the rethinking of what was once a bespoke piece into something you can pick off the shelves any day. This was the birth of our ready-to-wear kaftan line. Ine of the first of such in Africa. With our wealth of experience and a large array of data sets, we were able to formulate a standardise measurement chart, that services the African man and also every man globally.
In 2019 when we launch our first flagship store in Abuja, Nigeria. The goal was to deliver a pristine sartorial experience without the long wait that comes with getting a bespoke piece done. We also wanted to build a fashion culture for men who want to look good regardless of the event. The success of this concept gave us enough data points to afford us exporting that same business model online.
The shopafricana.co platform enabled us to experiment with ideas and concepts we were working on in-house. Leading to breakthroughs in design innovation, feedback collection and the integration of new payment (i.e blockchain) for the future of fashion we envision for the company.
On the back of the success of our first flagship store, in the last months of 2021, we started setup up another flagship store in Abidjan. The central point for french-speaking west Africa. This move we believe will solidify our bid to make the kaftan a staple in all households across the world. In the third quarter of 2022, we have plans in motion to open up two other flagship stores, In Senegal, New York and hopefully the UAE respectfully. This way we build agency as we reimagine and remark what was once an African thing, into a global essential piece of fashion.
We have also focused our research and development efforts on building a social enterprise that aids and empowers, many Nigerian women and kids to build better lives for themselves. We started a charity where we support women and children in the hospitals to pay for bills and other medical emergencies. But to expand that effort and make it sustainable, we are looking to build a movement that not only helps pay for bills but ensures that these women have the capacity to pay for future bills and earn a healthy living for themselves and their families.
Our vision for the future of African fashion has only begun. In 2022, we have plans to bring African fashion and lifestyle into the metaverse, and collaborate with local and African diaspora artists and thinkers to build capstone projects in fashion design and luxury spaces. We’re also researching and developing immerse capacities for franchising on a much larger scale this year.
More important, we are building systems that ensure that throughout our value chain, we are sustainable and transparent.
For us at Africana, we have just begun a new day, a new story. One of the innovations that put African fashion on a stage bigger than ever.