There's no doubting the fact that Vogue is a fashion behemoth and is possibly the backbone of the global fashion industry. There is also no doubt about the fact that Naomi Campbell uses her voice and position in the industry to make things happen, and in her visit to Nigeria, she has been enamoured by the Nigerian fashion industry. So much so that she is urging Conde Nast to launch an African Edition of Vogue, and we are entirely here for it!
Even though there is an increase in diversity and inclusion in the global fashion industry, there is still a gap in the market for African fashion, which we're gradually narrowing. Edward Enninful has been named the first African editor of Vogue and he's certainly ascertaining diversity and inclusion of black and African voices in the industry, a lot of African designers and models are gaining continuous recognition on the runway, and there's generally a lot of attention on the African fashion market at the moment.
While most facets of the industry are seeing steady growth, there is a gaping hole in fashion media over here, which is due to the lack of infrastructure and ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. Given that there's not a lot out here, it's easy for frauds to pose as the best we have, however, a lot of existing fashion publications don't get their job done or even have the range to. This is mostly a clear case of owners creating vanity projects and turning extensions of their egos into (not viable) businesses, which does little to nothing for the actual fashion industry.
Fashion media is important, as it's through them that the general public gain knowledge and insight to the fashion they consume (and everyone who wears clothes is a consumer of fashion!). An African Vogue edition will be a very important step on many different levels, as it creates a niche that desperately needs to be filled as well as projecting the awesome fashion talent we have over here which will fuel a growth spurt in the industry.
Naomi Campbell clearly recognises this, as in an interview with Reuters, she said:
"Africa has never had the opportunity to be out there and their fabrics and their materials and their designs be accepted on the global platform ... it shouldn’t be that way."
Currently, Conde Nast publishes 27 international versions of this fashion bible, including editions in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Thailand, Romania, and the UAE. Should Campbell’s idea come to fruition, it would be a great step in forward motion for the African fashion market!
Reading fashion magazines is nice and enjoyable as is, however one cannot deny the pure joy it will bring to see authentic African fashion stories being told by authentic Africans. It's not enough for people in the diaspora to come in and tell untrue stories which fetishise the continent and appeal to a certain gaze.
Vogue Africa might be a difficult feat, given the many different fashion identities we have throughout the continent, however, it's important that the conversation has been opened up. There are definitely (only) a few able people (like myself) who can pull this off over here, and we hope that Naomi Campbell who is currently a contributing editor at British Vogue and Conde Nast really look into this!