by Atim Annette Oton
The Pulse of Africa is a series by Atim Annette Oton talking with Africans in Africa and across the Diaspora on Africa’s progress, issues on culture, technology and opportunities in this decade.
Kibonen Nfi is a Certified Image Consultant who studied International Trade and Marketing in the fashion industry at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. Based in New York, she is also the Founder and Creative Director for KiRette Couture, one-of-a kind label crossing racial and cultural borders by exploring, experimenting with and fusing textiles from around the world. She is also the co-founder for the Cameroon Fashion Industry Common Innitiative Group and co-founder for Super Model Search Cameroon. Her websites: www.kirettenewyork.com, www.supermodelsearchcameroon.com and www.cameroonfashionindustry.org
1. How do you feel about Africa’s progress and opportunities in your industry and city this decade (2010’s)?
Being in the fashion industry since 2009 and going back and forth between Africa, the USA and UK, I am really very impressed with the involvement of the African fashion and Africans in fashion. It was like a new dawn for African fashion and Africans are now benefitting from their own fashion which had for long been exploited by the western fashion. It is really encouraging and I strongly believe the fashion industry in the near future when the industry is properly developed in Africa, it will be a great economic booster.
There are lots of opportunities in the fashion industry . So much of it is still virgin and untapped. To fully develop this industry, we have to create opportunities from scratch and this is very exciting. It is the time to exploit the opportunities which are coming up in this industry and make the best of it.
2. How is technology, mobile telephones and social media changing Africa and your industry?
It is great to see how much sales can be done on Facebook for instance. Many designers do not even have a website but have done a lot of publicity via social media. It is great that so many young people get inspired by what their friends are doing and they have a venue they can showcase what they do. Using smart phones, you can even conduct business with less expenses, especially with the Blackberry. It is exciting. There is a boom and a dynamism which I love and which in Africa is taking place. Many yound designers do fashion shows just by seeing what we are doing abroad and they try to maintain the standards because they know the world is watching and their location does not matter. This is a positive factor and It puts a smile on my face.
3. What problems do you feel have to be overcomed by Africa in your industry (Fashion?
Africans have to respect their fashion and embrace it. We have to equally respect talent and develop it. African governments has to facilitate the development of this industry. We have to learn to embrace creativity. In Africa, creative people are despised and professions; and fashion, modelling, photography are considered professions for the underpriviledged. We have to change our mindsets and start seeing the dollar signs attatched to this industry because when it is properly developed, it will be a gold mine that creates lots of jobs and economic development.