Interview with Diana Opoti: “Making African Fashion Brands feel accessible”

Afromania by NKWO
Afromania by NKWO

PR expert, business woman, fashion enthusiast and advocate for African Fashion Designers – Diana Opoti, based in Nairobi, Kenya, started the social media campaign “100 Days of African Fashion” on Instagram to showcase fashion by African Designers. Today is day 100.

APiF: 100 days of African Fashion – what was the objective of the campaign and are you happy with the outcome?
Diana Opoti: I recently started my Fashion PR consultancy here in Nairobi to represent fashion brands and labels looking to come into Kenya, so I was very keen to create awareness of brands from other parts of Africa. I needed to know what type of looks/brands consumers were likely to be interested in purchasing, the favorable price points as well as shift attitude and get followers to go beyond liking pictures and make inquiries to purchase. I figured if I wore so many “branded” looks it would help raise an appreciation of owning African designer made products.

Also, I noticed that because of the challenges in distribution and retail, most times we see African fashion brands, they are pictured on runways and glossy look books. Most consumers can’t relate to this, so I was keen to make brands feel accessible by showing them in an every day setting.
I would say its been a huge success – mostly one of discovery for my followers, but I believe its restored a lot of confidence in designers who’ve been questioning the success of the “I am an African brand business model”.

APiF: Did you actively select designers or did designers send you creations that you then selected for the campaign?
Diana: So during my travels (last 18 months) I built quite a selection of African brands from countries I visited (South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania) so I started the campaign with my own clothes but mid into this, designers started writing, requesting that I feature their brands in my campaign.

by Azrawalji
by Azrawalji

I have been selective though – brands I feature, whether established, emerging or up new have to demonstrate a commercial positioning – and have visibility online (websites, regularly updated social platforms and open communication systems in place).

APiF: How many days upfront did you plan your outfits?
Diana: Many people ask me this. Truth be told, I dress like most normal people do, for my mood and what the day has in store for me – so more casual looks over the weekends and dressier work looks at the beginning of the week. My partner took my pictures daily – and my team updated socials daily – monitoring feedback and recording it for tallying later. This was important to allow new looks from designers and to stay completely engaged throughout the campaign.

APiF: Not living on the continent – logistically it can be challenging for customers to get their hands on the latest and coolest designs from African Designers. Do you see this changing in the near future and if yes how?
Diana: e-commerce platforms, concession stores and boutiques as well trunk shows around fashion events are all useful strategies that we can start to explore more purposefully. I’d say marketing should be prioritized to make platforms more visible.The continent already has amazing platforms selling African brands – Sapelle, Kisua, My Asho, Spree, Moonlook – we just need to push more awareness of the new collections and these sites.

Day 100: Skirt by Doreen Mashika
Day 100: Skirt by Doreen Mashika


APiF: I have to ask: What was one of your favorite outfits during the 100 days?
Diana: I have so many favorite looks and brands! Important to note – I own the stuff I highlighted – I invest in talent, in beautiful pieces and the promise for the business on the continent.

APiF: What are your future plans?
Diana: We have specialized campaigns we are planning like Pop-ups and Trunk Shows coming up in 2015. Following 100 days I am launching Diana Opoti’s Must-Haves which lists 6 key items for people to buy monthly. I will continue to show 1 or 2 looks weekly of selected designs. An African concession store in Nairobi is something I am keen to explore.

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