As the cream of the fashion world converge in Lagos for this year’s edition of Arise Fashion Week (AFW), Super Model, Naomi Campbell, yesterday announced that she is in partnership with the Gucci brand, is set to launch an ambitious fashion fellowship in universities in Lagos, Ghana and Cape Town in a bold move aimed at unleashing the hidden talents that abound in the continent.
The University of Lagos will be the beneficiary in Nigeria.
Making the disclosure at the second session of Arise Talks moderated by Laila Johnson-Salami where a panel comprising Campbell, Reni Folawiyo, Barbara James and Funsho Olusanya deliberated on the topic, ‘Business of Fasion – Exploring all Facets of the Emerging Markets in Africa, the fashionista explained that after 33 years on the runway, she had decided that the time has come to use her network, experience and talent to work for Africa.
At another Arise Fashion Week forum, Minister of Trade and Industries, Okechukwu Enelamah hinted that the federal government was planning to raise $500 million to facilitate the setting up of three economic zones in Lekki, Funtua and Aba in Lagos, Katsina and Abia states respectively
Campbell explained to the audience at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, that her current initiative was in line with late Nelson Mandela’s entreaties to her when she visited him in South Africa that she should use her talent and experience to create a new Africa narrative.
According to her, “After 33 years in the business, I have decided that it is time to come back to Africa and begin planting seeds to give opportunities to young talents. Africa has always been in my mind since 1993 and I want to be part of Africa. Africa has amazing talents but lacking in exposure. So it is wonderful to partner Arise Fashion to bring this about.
“We are partnering the Gucci brand and they have agreed to launch fellowships in Lagos, Accra and Cape Town to open design schools that would train the much-needed fashion talents that abound in Africa. The aim is to change the perception and negative narrative as Nelson Mandela asked me to use my voice to do.”
On the issue of private equity funding, Barbara James of Henshaw Capital said the best source of funding required for the fashion or creative industry was either private equity or venture capital, regretting that both of these sources are still too small for any impact to be felt.
James proposed a $1 billion equity fund that would attract such big weights as Gucci, Ebay, government and another fund known as Technical Funding that could possibly pool $20 million to target capacity building in the creative industry.
In her contribution, Funsho Olusanya of FSDH noted that in as much funding remains a major challenge, “as a banker, what we look for is the bankability of a project that would make returns on investment. Unfortunately, most of the young entrepreneur lack very basic knowledge of financing, project bankability etc. What we are willing to do now is to support the industry with financial advisory to enable them get on their feet.”
The CEO of Alara, Reni Folawiyo lamented the dearth of skill manpower, infrastructure and human capacity development, arguing that these factors contribute to making the products expensive and of low quality.
Folawiyo noted that while talent was on the upswing, all factors need to be improved to ensure that solutions can be provided to bring down prices and produce quality goods and services.
Pro-chancellor of University of Lagos, Wale Babalakin, SAN, lauded Campbell and the Chairman, THISDAY/Arise Media Group, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, for choosing the University of Lagos for the fellowship, adding that it was coming at a time the authorities are seeking alternative means of revenue generation that “we’ll support, encourage and give our all to make this work.”
Obaigbena praised Campbell for deciding to dedicate the rest of her life to develop talent in Africa: “She has spent 33 years already in the business, now she is ready to dedicate the rest of her 33 years to building the African brand and new narrative for Africa.”
The Arise Fashion Week continues today at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island.
The festival will culminate on Easter Sunday, April 21, with exciting shows on the runway.
Designers that will grace the runway include Turfah, Torlowei, Mai Atafo, Tokyo James, 3.Paradis, Tzar, Clan, Papa Oppong, Nkwo, and Selam Fessahaye.
Other designers to watch on the runway include Style Temple, Andrea Iyamah, Lanre Da Silva, Tiffany Amber among others.
In all, 37 local and international designers will showcase their creativity on the runway this Easter weekend.
Described as ‘the most beautiful runway in Africa’ the fashion festival, which was berthed over a decade ago, is adjudged the most prestigious platform to showcase Africa’s creative talents through fashion and music.
International models like Naomi Campbell, Grace Bol, Georgie Badiel, Millen Magese, and Oluchi Orlandi, have walked the AFW runway over the years, showcasing the best of African designs.
Since its return last year, AFW has continued in its commitment to push the African narrative, positioning the black continent as a hub of creative talents.
Last year’s edition recorded an impressive attendance and a dazzling runway that once again, placed the continent on the global stage. 45 designers from between 12 and 14 countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Germany, Canada, France, Morocco, the United Kingdom, United States, the Caribbean and Nigeria walked the runway at the 2018 edition.
As part of its commitment to groom fashion designers that will distinguish themselves globally, Arise Media, which organizes the yearly fashion fete, introduced a life-changing novelty known as the ARISE Fashion Management and Mentoring Programme (AFMMP). The AFMMP was designed for start-ups in the fashion business that can be nurtured to international brands.
Apart from shining the light on the continent through fashion, AFW also contributed to the arts and tourism sector of Lagos State such that the state recognized it as one of the key events to attend this year in the state’s arts and culture calendar.
Enelamah: FG to raise $500 million for Lekki, Funtua, Aba economic zones
Also at the Arise Fashion Week forum, Minister of Trade and Industries, Okechukwu Enelamah hinted that the federal government was planning to raise $500 million to facilitate the setting up of three economic zones in Lekki, Funtua and Aba in Lagos, Katsina and Abia states respectively.
Enelamah who was part of a panel comprising of Barbara Barungi and Ituen Bassey that discussed “From Retail to Export – Building a Sustainable Market” urged Nigerians to work with the present administration to make Nigeria work and great.
At the panel discussion moderated by the Director General, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo, the Minister explained that the federal government was aiming at creating a pull strategy in areas where the country has comparative advantage.
According to him, “we are at the moment looking at the entire value chain including in the fashion or creative industry to create a pull strategy and facilitate this by creating industrial infrastructure to position Nigeria where it can compete globally in areas where it has competitive advantage.
“We are working with investors and various players to create industrial parks while we as a government would provide the incentives. Overall, we are creating an enabling environment for fashion or the creative industry to gain a foothold so we can realize our full potential in both markets and population.”
He said the government was also working to develop the economy in order remove sub-economic cost to lower cost of production and funds, adding that it was encouraging innovation, creativity and production to make inroad globally.
In her contribution, the MD, Imara Africa Consulting, Barbara Barungi said apart from funding challenges, African are yet to take the issue of intellectual property seriously, calling for what she described as “a legal dimension to protect the fashion industry.”
Albert Okumagba of BGL in his contribution pointed to the red tapism in sourcing financing from the banks and urging government to rather seek alternative sources of funding from the private sector to support the creative industry.