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In vogue, yet not in Vogue

Published on 31 July 2018

Supermodel Naomi Campbell has fuelled an ongoing debate about Vogue Africa, declaring that Africa should have its own edition of the magazine to acknowledge the huge impact the continent has had on the fashion industry.

 

ELLE launched a version of its magazine in the Ivory Coast in March 2017, but Vogue is yet to make the move. “There should be a Vogue Africa,” said British-born Naomi Campbell to Reuters at Nigeria’s Arise Fashion Week (which took place for the first time in six years in March 2018). “Africa has never had the opportunity to be out there and their fabrics and their materials and their designs be accepted on the global platform. We just had Vogue Arabia – it [Africa] is the next progression. It has to be.”

Campbell isn’t the only woman speaking out. “Where is Vogue Africa?” asks Leanne Tlhagoane (founder of the “Refashion Africa” digital platform) in the online “The Business of Fashion” magazine. For sceptics who still see Africa in a dim light and therefore believe that a prestigious magazine like Vogue doesn’t belong here, they are missing the fast-paced renaissance and energy that is flowing into almost every corner of the continent.”

Luxury and fashion in Africa are 31 billion dollar industries

Cameroonian photographer, make-up artist and fashion show regular, Mario Epanya, has been pressing for the creation of Condé Nast’s monthly magazine on the continent for over a decade. His work has included the making of fictional Vogue Africa cover pages for exhibitions in the USA and Brazil. During an interview with Vogue Italy in 2010 he explained that a Vogue Africa would be the ultimate tribute to African women, and “help support the development of African fashion.”

And there’s good reason to encourage that development: The continent’s luxury market, driven by the fashion sector, is growing just as quickly as its middle classes, its urbanisation and its millionaires’ bank accounts. “The African continent has become one of the most strategic regions in the world for the sale of luxury goods,” said the director of international market research group, IFOP, during the launch of the book “Luxury Marketing & Retail Trends” in December 2017. The figures speak for themselves: The value of the African fashion and luxury markets was estimated at 31 million dollars by Euromonitor in 2016.

Lagos’ Fashion Week as an example

Brands such as Zegna, Hugo Boss, Mango or Zara, and magazines like ELLE or Cosmopolitan are the pioneers of this integration with the opening of stores or the launching of local versions. While African countries have been presented as the new market of the future for fashion and luxury for the last two years, we are discovering a new generation of designers who could very well become important actors of creative fashion. Africa shows a certain creative vitality, with the Lagos Fashion week as the main showcase,” says Jean-Marc Chauve, Artistic Director of the IFA Paris.

Though a Vogue Africa doesn’t appear to be in the pipeline, progress has definitely been made:  the magazine’s US, Italian and British journalists have started taking Lagos Fashion Week seriously (it was here that African designers like Maki Oh, Lisa Folawiyo, Nkwo Onwuka, Imane Ayissi, Loza Malofombho, Meena, Orange Culture and Laurence Airline were discovered), and since April 2017, Vogue UK’s editor-in-chief has been Edward Enningul, an Englishman of Ghanaian origin. Watch this space.