When one walks through the streets of Ghana and into our fashion stores in any shopping area, it is very evident there is a total neglect of fashion made in Ghana, and with the exception of 3 or so stores around the whole country we have probably over 10,000 stores consistently buying and stocking from abroad, but very soon these stores will shortly be put out of business if they continue to neglect made in Africa goods.
Accra Fashion Week 2016 came and went with the sub title ‘From Batik2Boutique’ and we have consistently pushed and coined the narrative of getting boutiques to open more to African fashion or made in Ghana goods. After doing ground work last year we engaged with over 400 boutiques ‘literally’ encouraging them to participate in Accra Fashion Week.
Although a good number of them are ready to work with us and start stocking made in Ghana goods, others to had their reasons why they do not support fashion made in Ghana, and the main ones go as follows.
1/ Professionalism of Creatives: Most creatives are not ontime with their goods, usually argue with money being owed, and have attitude.
2/ Quality Of Goods: They believe that most of the designers that approach them do not make items that are sustainable and will cause conflicts with their store clients.
3/ Clients Dislike For Prints: They usually criticize the use of African prints and claim their clients don’t want that.
4/ Brands: Most people come to their stores to buy popular brands, you know, the gucci, amarni, etc.
5/ Pricing: The stuff from asia is cheaper and the stuff from Ghana is not.
So now we know their reasons, let’s get a few things clear BEFORE we get into why they would be going bankrupt. First, most of these boutiques are far removed from our fashion scene. So their claims of unprofessionalism, quality of good, limitation in print, etc is very true…..for those they are aware off. But with a limited number of fashion shows consistently inviting them they are totally clueless that there are tonnes of designers that defy these reasons. Hence why Accra Fashion Week is constantly working to change this narrative.
For the most part our boutiques have used point 3 ‘Clients Dislike For Prints:‘ as an excuse not to support made in Ghana goods. The truth is if there was no market for prints in Ghana, we wouldn’t be the number one country stocking them from China. Nor would we have a tailor customizing print clothes every other building. The truth is there has always been a large market in Ghana and abroad for prints or made in Ghana fashion. The boutiques lack of supporting them is what has created a culture of buying non African clothes in stores, and getting you print outfits from the tailors.
So here is why it is going to bite the boutiques in the arse if they do not alternate their style. Ghana is growing…at a fast rate. And foreigners are consistently seeing business opportunities especially in the leisure and luxury industries. One can say the popular Accra mall is roughly 60% fashion. And amongst those fashion stores (mainly italian, American, asian clothes) only 3 of those fashion stores are African owned. That would be Nallem, Kikis Clothing and Aha Intimates.
In other words, those who make the clothes with stocks all over the world are setting up in Africa to enjoy some of that leisure money. These stores are extensions of major chain stores or large stores in other countries. So they can afford to produce or buy in larger amounts and in some cases sell cheaper than our local fashion boutiques. They also have the finances to set up in more attractive locations ie the malls. Which now puts our boutiques that never supported made in Africa goods in a tight spot to win over the clients they claim don’t like print.
They will now start turning their backs on the smaller boutiques because 1/ The foreign chain stores sell their stuff better than the smaller boutiques, they have wider ranges/options, and it would be much cheaper and most of their stock are remainders from their stores abroad. 2/ Smaller boutiques have no patriotic reason to demand support from clients. 3/ Its going to get even worst when they begin competing with themselves with mass advertisement on TV, social media and more. 4/ These stores make more money per growth. After years of sales and stock they will begin opening up in almost every corner, to ensure they capture every potential sale. 9 times out of 10, the foreign stores are in the same circles our boutiques buy their clothes from, and most likely through them they discovered business in Ghana is good.
Ghanaian owned Fashion boutiques are going to have to start making effort to intertwine with the local fashion brands or alternatively they will see a serge of new boutique that will do so and the boutiques that begin stocking local brands will eventually be the only ones that will withstand the over take of the extensions of chain stores entering the country.
This is far from a sales pitch, but Accra Fashion Week 2017 would be a good start in identifying the future brands to begin business with. If you would like to be enlightened more, simply register as a buyer or boutique here http://www.accrafashionweek.org/buyers-registration/