And a tough business at that!
I simply cannot count the number of times I have heard young and enthusiastic individuals express with great glee their excitement about starting their own brand or label right after school or even working class professionals who are contemplating quitting their day job in order to start their “own thing”. I mean…I was once one of those people…for a long while: living in a fantasy world of perfection where dreams come true over night. Ha!
Until I woke up one day after a year and a half working as a fashion retail person and realized that it has never really been about the glitz and glamour! That just comes as dessert after the main course has been properly served and digested. Bam!
Fashion is a business! It’s a business built around creating desire, developing innovative products and selling it to a specific target market in the hopes of reaping huge profits in return. Fashion actually entails more than what really meets the eye I should say. There are quite a lot of things that go on in the background that make for the success of most brands. Believe me!
Take for example the “all important” seamstresses, tailors and craftsmen who sit behind the machines hours after hours to meticulously stitch and put together the clothes, shoes and bags we so love to adorn our bodies with. Imagine how tedious and skilled their work is; requiring loooong hours of dedication and careful work to achieve perfection.
Many times have I sat by a designer friend as he stitches the night away on bottles of coke and kelewele or freshly baked bread all in the name of beating time in order to meet a deadline while most people snooze away in dream land. Let’s face it! It’s not as easy as they make it seem: all these international brands and emerging local brands.
Truth is most of them do not even break even annually. They have just been over hyped and they have no option but to continue to ride on the hype in the hopes of making it big at some point in time. Believe me! Not all that glitters is gold! On the contrary, some really do hold the potential to make billions in cedis and dollars with the right support and infrastructure.
But that is really where the real problems exist! In Ghana, we do not have the right infrastructure in place neither do we have enough people willing to see the huge potential that a well developed fashion scene holds in creating jobs and generating foreign exchange in the form of investments. In cases where someone or entity shows their face and offers to help, they are often met with all sorts of frustrations and set backs.Hm!
Various governments and donor organizations start projects annually with much pomp and pageantry supposedly in support of the development of the industry but often to no avail.
Not to talk of the general impression held by lots of people that “you have to own your own brand” before you can brand yourself as doing fashion! Really?…a friend of mine would say…”like seriously? I mean, it’s a great thing to be able to own one’s own brand but there are so many facets that need to come together that sometimes it is best to work with a brand that has already begun the journey.
This is the realization we need to come to as creative folks! There are so many potential avenues and job opportunities that can be explored if only we can open ourselves up to it! Not everyone is meant to be a designer! Designer brands need support teams. They need Accountants, Fashion Reporters, Fashion PR Experts, Bloggers, Retail People, Photographers, Creative Directors, Business Development Experts and interns. It is all about team work! Collective effort. And the earlier our fashion schools and influential individuals start drumming in this message, the faster our baby industry will begin to grow.
Question: What elements are needed to help boost the growth of the Ghanaian fashion industry? Kindly share with us via your comments section below
Writer: Nelsyn Nartey
Nelsyn Narh is a young creative in the Ghanaian Fashion Movement. He is currently the Client Relations Officer for the contemporary women’s brand 1981. He formerly worked with One of Ghana’s leading luxury brands Christie Brown where he horned his product retailing and client service skills. He is very interested in the business side of fashion especially in the developing process of Ghanaian fashion.