Most fashion entrepreneurs struggle to provide economic security for their families because of unfair competition and an overwhelming lack of resources. While making up a large number of the informal sector, the tailoring industry is still largely unorganized and underreported. These artisans are ones that hold the key to a riddle that is plaguing the fashion world and that is, how do we make fashion sustainable? And in just the past couple of years, the need for a more sustainable way to clothe ourselves has become even more evident.
“Fashion” in ancient Africa was both both functional and symbolic. Minimalist, both in nature and necessity Africans found ways to adorn themselves by use of body paints, tattoos and modifications, and jewelry. Fashion in modern Africa is a far cry from what it was. Now, I am not one to stew in the nostalgia of what could have been were it not for colonialism but I will concede to the occasional what if. What if we were not colonized? What if we did not lose our identity as a result of assimilation and indoctrination? What if the secondhand clothing industry never existed? What if Africans were not conditioned to feel like their aesthetic was inferior to those of the more developed world? What if?
We have an opportunity to rise above all the noise and forge our own path. Declare boldly that Africans will wear what we produce. That we will create our own clothes and redefine what beautiful is. It doesn’t have to make sense to the West, but only make sense to us. We can create a waste free world by wearing clothes that were made for us with a specific purpose in mind, and not as a result of bored browsing and fast trend turnovers.
Fast fashion and the secondhand clothing industry has made it hard for tailors and local fashion designers to compete fairly, Kupsie Ink is seeking to even out the playing field. Why don’t we try beating them at their own game? Democratize fashion. Let’s get the largest registry of African artisan fashion creators online so that the world can see how Africans do fashion!