The world seems to be fascinated by Ghanaian culture and design. So why isn’t the fashion industry in Ghana blowing Paris out of the water? The issue is as complex as the patterns of African prints.
Fierceness and fabulousness aside, the fashion industry is a serious (and lucrative) business. However, the Ghanaian government has refused to recognize the fashion business as a cultural industry thereby making fashion designers or fashionpreneurs (fashion entrepreneurs) ineligible to receive any arts grants and/or funding. For the emerging fashionpreneurs such financial assistance can be critical to growing the business. If the government doesn’t see a need for the fashion industry locally, it becomes difficult for us to convince the international market of our existence. If we can see the detrimental effects that varying policies can have on the design communities within Ghana, how does Ghana as a whole fare internationally and what are the implications for Ghana? It is not surprising that in countries where the fashion industry is a major contributor to the economy, the domestic intellectual property laws facilitate adequate protection of fashion designs. France and Italy are examples of countries that have instituted laws that explicitly protect fashion creatives. Ghana’s fashion industry has the potential to be a big player in the international arena, but with fashionpreneurs moving abroad, is Ghana really supportive of its designers, models, photographers, makeup artists, stylists, fashion publishers etc thereby enticing them to stay in Ghana?
We’ve all heard it before… “She stole my idea! He stole my designs! She’s copying me!!!” I also recall quite a few times on facebook, where I ran into a rant-post via Ghanaian designers who believed that they were being “copied”. Enough is enough. It’s time to take a professional turn. We, the “Young Professionals” who are part of the Ghanaian Fashion Industry, need to show that we are respectable, professional, and hard working. It’s tough enough for us. Many people see we designers, or PR reps, or models or photographers–and they think that they are better than us. Who cares? Leave it alone. It’s not worth tarnishing your reputation, in order to express your frustration, no matter how badly you or your company was treated. As the head honcho of www.fashionpivot.com and a PR practitioner I will introduce a segment on my blog dubbed “Fashionpivot veil of ignorance”, we will expose fashion brands in Ghana stealing people’s creative works or concepts. We will criticize behaviors we see not ethically right and suggest solutions in a visual presentation.
“Every year around this time, we get dolled up to come and see you re-enact a boring old tale and frankly speaking I am tired. I am very tired because it is sad. I am very tired because when someone speaks up on these issues it is termed as hate. I am tired because if we don’t change, how will we be taken seriously? Some of us work hard trying to build and contribute to the fashion industry in Ghana but this effort sometimes seems like a waste because others keep degrading the efforts by falsely projecting the Ghanaian fashion industry in an ill manner to the public. As much as I don’t want to be termed a hater, i would rather be called that because I want things to get better and want the right things to be done. Each year, we get a carved wooden thing, wedding decor, some cheap chops and a bunch of novices from the fashion business, to go sit at some place to be fed with stupid fallacies about the fashion industry in Ghana. Firstly, the fashion industry is a field of business that has more to it than a pageantry showbiz event and should not be left in the hands of KIDS who know very little about the business. I mean it’s like giving a puppy a $100 bill and expecting that they will see it for its value. No! To it, it’s a piece of paper, a toy so they treat it anyhow and might just rip it in the end. Must we project our industry in such a discourteous manner?” – says Lady S of Debonair Afrik .
Fashion award schemes in Ghana seem to be set up for selfish interest and the same people win awards all the time regardless of whether they deserve it or not. It seems most of the associations such as MODUGA, FIAG, UMAG, FADUGA etc are working to their benefit(s) but not the industry. Most of the people fronting these associations are greedy and have little knowledge about the industry.
When people discuss what they’re seeking from a more senior person in their field, they usually talk about “mentorship.” Generally, mentoring involves offering advice, helping someone adjust to their new job, or giving feedback on their work. Sponsorship, on the other hand, is all about giving people or the industry opportunities, whether by funding them, advocating for their promotion, introducing them to important people, or making sure they get assigned to the types of challenging projects that can help them grow. Ghana’s fashion industry needs to have various promotional efforts — traditional as well as digital, strategic initiatives of mutual benefit to stakeholders, and supply chains and distribution networks that connect and inspire creativity and innovation in order to develop.
At present, the industry is a loose amalgam of Ghanaian designers worldwide, creative professionals, non-government organizations; small to medium-sized businesses, chambers of commerce, and others who are interested in the successful promotion and formal establishment of the Ghanaian fashion industry. While Ghanaian designers can become famous and successful on the continent, those who are most competitive and who are garnering more support are the ones who are able to travel globally.