APiF: What is Africa Fashion Day Berlin (AFDB)?
Beatrace Angut Oola: Africa Fashion Day Berlin is an innovative communication and marketing platform with runway shows, fashion panels and exhibitions. This platform was brought to life in 2012.
APiF: What is your background and why did you start AFDB?
Beatrace: I studied Film and TV business in Dortmund. I worked within the film and TV industry in the art department as production designer and assistant. I moved on and worked as Fashion stylist in a commercial agency full time till last year. Today I still work as a freelance Fashion Stylist.
My central inspiration was in Uganda. I was from 2009 -2010 for a longer period impressed by the design, music, and film scene. I thought “oh my god, so much is happening on the continent and we in Germany do not have a clue about it”. Since I work as stylist I always attended Berlin Fashion Week and noticed that designers of African decent were not represented and I asked myself – why? So I started my research and developed AFDB.
APiF: How is AFDB different form other African Fashion events in Europe?
Beatrace: We aim to bring international key industry players together to raise awareness of the diversity and skill in African Fashion and it’s economic potential through “Africa Fashion Day Berlin”. We are addressing the international fashion industry and press and are not just focused on the Afro community. AFDB is part of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin and the PREMIUM INTERNATIONAL FASHION TRADE SHOW. I hope to achieve brand awareness for the designers and their products. I hope to establish AFDB as an international network platform for designers of African decent.
APiF: Why just a day and not a week?
Beatrace: I think it is better to start with one day and grow. I like small but well done events. When I started I only had the idea and not a big sponsor to support me. I had to think of something that I can handle. In the meantime AFDB is not only happening on just one day – in total we have three days. Since summer July 2014 we are actually – Africa Fashion Days Berlin. :-). The aim is to eventually grow to one week.
APiF: Which designers have you showcased so far?
Beatrace: For example Alexandra Tamele, Nana K. Brenu, SOBOYE, Gloria Wavamunno.
APiF: Besides the event and showcasing designs – what else is AFDB working on/doing for/with designers?
Beatrace: AFDB is working on different projects. I am connecting with different people from the fashion scene not only in Germany. Developing concepts with organizations, so 2015 will be exciting. A German fashion magazine created an africa-inspired shoot with my support and designers of AFDB were featured.
APiF: What is AFDB planning for 2015?
Beatrace: From January 19-21st AFDB will participate in the PREMIUM INTERNATIONAL FASHION TRADE SHOW in Berlin. This is a huge step for us, as this platform is where business starts and happens.We will also host a Fashion Panel on the 20th of January at PREMIUM Exhibtions Hall 7 D06. The topic is “The new global African aesthetic” and Jacqueline Shaw will be one of the speakers. In July 2015 our runway show will take place, hopefully with more designers.
APiF: What are the biggest challenges in the “African Fashion Industry” and how could they be addressed?
Beatrace: I think the biggest challenge is to make the step from a sample production to the mass production. At the moment there are many talented designers who produce limited editions. Limited editions are for big well known fashion houses uninteresting. They want high quality in mass production and on time. In the international fashion industry mass production is what sells, this can only happen with strong partners who invest in the African Fashion industry.
APiF: Is Lagos the new fashion capital?
Beatrace: Yes, for sure it is! Not only Lagos, I would also say Dakar and Accra.
APiF: What is your advice for emerging designers and start-ups in the industry?
Beatrace: My advice is to think from the very first moment about your brand strategy, image, look and to be patient. If designers are interested to enter the European market, it is important to get advice from fashion consultants/experts. They know how the market works.
>>> Save the date: Africa Fashion Day Berlin @Premium Int. Trade Show, January 19.-21st 2015
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