Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover

Many people think of Africa as a poor continent that is basically useless for business, however, this is most definitely not the case! Wednesday at FIT, I attended the Luxury African Fashion Panel, which consisted of designers from Africa, Egypt and Bolivia. They took this time to talk about Africa as an emerging market for fashion, luxury African fashion, enterprising fashion brands, and their interpretation of the international “Afrofashionista/isto.”

The panelists answering questions from the audience.

Africa has always been an overlooked market for fashion, and it really hurts African designers. Although international business is weak in Africa, top American and European designers are creating garments based on traditional African prints and designs! In many nations throughout Africa, there are designers, like the ones in the panel, which are extremely gifted, but rarely given the opportunity to expand their businesses.

In 2010, Adiat Disu founded Africa Fashion Week in New York. Since then, many African designers have increased their sales globally which always are set to give back to their hometown. One of the designers stated, “creating a brand is creating a purpose,” and many of these designers said that they use their brand to give back to the less fortunate; whether it’s by creating jobs or as part of a charity.

All of the panelists agreed on the statement that the whole idea behind a brand is to rediscover your roots, and to incorporate your background and culture into what you wear. This gives you a feel of his/her personality but remains at the middle point between African and contemporary. In the past, African women used to focus on how to survive and didn’t have the time to worry about what they looked like. Times have changed and it is now time to give African designers a chance in the marketing world.

Overall, this entire presentation was extraordinary, and I left the room knowing much more about the African market than when I had entered.

Fino alla volta prossima!

Gabriela

 

If you would like to know more about the designers or African Fashion Week in New York, check out:

 

I am super excited for the next three weeks…

My first day at FIT was much more than I imagined! I experienced a whole new lifestyle than what I’m used to, and I loved it! The people, the sights, the energy, the vibes, everything I experienced was so astonishing that I boarded the train home with a smile on my face knowing that I had a great day.

I woke up Monday morning to a phone call from my mom informing me that the LIRR was shut down due to signaling issues between Penn Station and Jamaica…GREAT! Just what I need on the first day of FIT…I thought I had enough stress already! There was nothing I could do but wait and hope that the LIRR would get back to running ASAP! An hour passed and by the time I had to leave, the trains were back on schedule! I felt relieved and glad that I wouldn’t be the first “late girl” to class. My train was scheduled to transfer, and when I boarded the new train I was in shock by what I saw…the OLD version of the LIRR! There was wooden paneling and colored seats; I felt like I was in the 70’s!

Upon arriving at Penn Station, I met up with 2 of my friends that took morning classes and grabbed a bite to eat before my class. I was informed to arrive 30 minutes early, and I wound up being the first one there. I used that time to chat with my professor and get to know what these 3 weeks are going to be about. My professor, Margaret Bishop, is the most friendly and personable woman ever! She shared with the class about how she loves to travel and has lived in about 50 countries and together visited over 100! Also, while earning her masters degree, FIT asked HER to teach in their International Trade and Marketing department! How awesome is that!

Anyway, the class in general is going to be super exciting. There are girls from Paraguay, Lebanon, Abu Dhabi, China, Barcelona, and all over the US! Hearing all the different accents and languages in one room really enhanced my dream to travel. All of the girls in the class share the same passion for fashion as I do, and everyone took part during our first discussion…it could’ve went on for hours! My professor introduced International Fashion Marketing to us and described the projects we will be doing and field trips we will be taking. One of our projects includes creating a big display board full of cutout pictures from fashion magazines. Each group was assigned one of the following styles: men’s fashion/denim, retro, swimwear, or prints. My group was given retro. I think that style is the most fun to play around with and my group will definitely do a good job of presenting it to the class.

All in all, I am super excited for the next three weeks. Besides the fact that I’ve never been outside of the United States, I want to travel even more now because I’m surrounded by so many different cultures! My family constantly tells me how beautiful it is to travel the world, and I hope that someday I will be able to agree with them!

Until next time,

Gabriela