Preparing Sierra Leonean fashion to go global

A series of seminars for Sierra Leonean clothing and textile brands, aiming to tap into growing international interest in African fashion, continued last week (13 January 2023) with a practical session on price setting, brand development and attracting buyers.

It was organised by Invest Salone, a UK-funded private sector development initiative. It was led by author and African fashion business coach Jacqueline Brown and international value chain expert Cristina Ruiz. Popular Sierra Leonean brands Marie Carrol of Bivamiks, Pa Musa, Emmanuel Edwards of Manikénè and Mohamed Jalloh of Fashion One were among the 11 designers who attended.

In addition to the seminar, Ms Ruiz conducted follow-up sessions with individual fashion companies for an in-depth look at their pricing strategies and tactics.

The seminars and targeted technical assistance are part of a programme to help Sierra Leonean fashion firms become more internationally competitive and gain a foothold in Africa’s growing share of the $1.5 trillion global textiles and clothing industry.

Although Africa only accounts for 1.9% of global trade, recently it has attracted international attention from major fashion labels such as Tory Burch, Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney, as well as high-street giants like H&M and Gap. Most Sierra Leonean fashion brands still rely on the domestic market, but niche products like gara and country cloth have the potential to attract higher-end buyers of textile design.

Avril Pratt, a consultant with Invest Salone, says: “The textile/clothing industry in Africa is already worth over $31bn. This represents an immense opportunity for Sierra Leonean fashion brands. With the needs of international buyers in mind, we have designed a programme to help Sierra Leonean textiles and clothing companies improve their business processes, production and productivity standards.”

Ms Brown concluded last week’s seminar by calling for feedback on the challenges faced by Sierra Leone’s fashion brands. “We are particularly keen to look at constraints to export – such as shipping and access to quality inputs – so that we can work with you on strategies to manage these,” she said.

Mohamed Jalloh, CEO of Fashion One, said the seminar gave him a lot to think about. “There was a lot of useful information in today’s session, particularly as I build up my lookbook and fine-tune my pricing strategy. As a company, we want to be known for creating beautiful outfits that make our customers feel special. We have a good brand story, and I have come away today with ideas to make it more compelling.”

Find out more:

Sierra Leone’s emerging fashion industry

Invest Salone holds introduction to ‘going global’ for Sierra Leone’s fashion and textiles sector

Sierra Leone’s sleeping beauty textile industry gets the kiss of life from the country’s fashion designers

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