African fashion. Made in Africa by Africans. A group of young fashion designers in the Republic of Congo have teamed up to promote fashion made in Congo.
I was able to meet up with them in one of their workshops where they get to expose and sell their creations.
What inspired you to come up with this group, Le Coin des Créateurs de Congo?
“We were inspired by the fact that West Africans work together which is missing here in Congo. So we grouped into 4 brands and chose to work together to represent Congolese fashion and move it forward,” said Alnise Foungui of Otouh Collection.
And how has the feedback been since you created the group?
“It was a great experience because to be able to accomplish something that started with an idea, and to be able to realize it. We met a lot of challenges to organize these events in relation to partners etc. So we already learn ourselves, how to manage, organize and especially bounce back. So we’ve been the queens of Plan B since we started, so we’re still trying to find solutions. It’s challenging but at the same time it’s very very enriching, because we learn to work with several different points of view, different personalities it’s not always easy to manage but we always manage to get out what we had planned, so for us it’s very positive and very formative,” Jessica Evoundou of Okasama Bamboo.
“Each brand already has its followers. Unfortunately we realize during private sales that it’s not even these people who come but other people who come to our sales. It is true that it is a challenge, but we hang on and we believe in it. We know that for new editions there will always be new people and it will be okay,” said Grace Foungui of Otouh Collection.
We’ve noticed that over the years, the African print fabric was forgotten. But its making a sudden comeback. And surprisingly its not only in Africa, but also in other parts of the world. You also find white people wearing African designs. What do you think about this trend. Is it positive and does this show that there’s a bright future for fashion designers like you who are in Africa?
“Africans have understood that it is necessary to use African products, to use the African fabric so we leave aside the European fabrics etc. And it is positive for stylists because it pushes us to produce more, it pushes us to put forward our know-how, to export it, to try to sell our products also outside,” said Grace Foungui of Otouh Collection.
In order to accomplish their mission, the group also invites other designers in the country.
“This is a very good initiative because until now there has not been this kind of grouping and I think our consumers welcome them in the same way we do. This is very good, we still encourage the group and we call other designers to join us too,” said Joyse Kinzonzi of the ‘Emotions’.
“It’s a very good initiative because it also allows other young creators like us to gain visibility. Because there are a lot of them and they are struggling . The difficulty was to be visible and to be able to meet. So we really applaud this initiative which is very good,” said Roselyne Aissi of ‘Emotions’.
The Congolese fashion industry is a very promising industry considering such initiatives like the one for Le Coin des Créateurs du Congo.
In short, Africa’s fashion industry is rising. @BahatiLinnete