In my previous post, I expressed the need for viable artist/artisan collections centres in Africa. This is a need that has been addressed on many levels throughout the region. Of course, textiles are also apart of this. I remember one evening I was watching a CNBC documentary on J. Crew and its' turnaround as a company. There was a particular scene, where CEO Mickey Drexler goes to Italy to pick out fabrics at one of Milan's textile warehouses. There were fabrics/textiles swatches dating back to as far as the 1700s held in a large collections of books. This to me signifies in part the reason why European/American fashion is so penetrating in our everyday lives. There is a sustained heritage. It's not so much about Gucci as it is about Italian leather. It's not so much about Chanel as it is about French silk. Not so much about Levi's as it about American denim or the white cotton tee.
Africa in terms of economics, has always been able to produce its' own goods and in terms of fashion it can offer something other than a trend. SUNO, founded by Max Osterweis is a micro-scale example of what can happen when African fashion focuses on developing and collecting local textiles/techniques to produce unique luxury brands through the use of vintage Kenyan kangas. Most importantly, developing African-made textiles is necessary to establishing African design as an innovative force to reckoned with. Online consultancies such as AfricanFashionGuide and Source4Style are at the forefront of this growing industry. Picture sources (from left to right): 1,2,3
|Sources (L to R): 1,2,3|
Two months ago, I read an article in WIRED UK, on the rising influence of pop star Lady Gaga's manager Troy Carter. After years of working the music business, Carter along with the help of several key Silicon Valley developers formulated a social media model called Backplane based on online fanbase communities. The first Backplane-powered site was that of Littlemonsters.com (for Lady Gaga). The site requires a login similar to GILT GROUPE and is set to provide Miss Gaga with a platform to pass on important information. I began thinking immediately of how a Backplane-powered site could be used to connect farmers/collectives in "FAIRTRADE" countries to suppliers everywhere. There are times when I think that FAIRTRADE has become a marketing route for selling products to the "hipsters and tree-huggers" (as the conservative base would call them) of the developed nations. Who says that consumers in emerging markets don't want to buy fairtrade--or organic--too? Or that a small-scale farmer in Ecuador can't competitively bargain with a grocery owner in Botswana and vice versa? Perhaps a social media outlet such as a Backplane-powered site can help to expand the power of fairtrade among small commerce. While trading sites such as the Chinese Alibaba already provide hubs for business-to-business transactions, whether or not subscribers are certified FAIRTRADE isn't immediately verifiable. Not to mention, an online community could provide farmers with a to trade equipment and tips as well as enhance the usage of mobile banking.
Being that developing a social-value based high end brand is one of those things I have sketched in my composition book of dreams, I found this list to be quite informative. Here are some bits and pieces that I found interesting:
There were definitely other innovative things that caught my eye these past two months, that I can't quite think of at the moment but I will be sure to cover those in subsequent posts (hopefully without such a long period of absence this time!)
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