Ivorian Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud founded LaurenceAirline, which is based in Paris and Abidjan, in 2010. When asked why she chooses to make her clothes in Abidjan, she was unequivocal: ‘The goal of LaurenceAirline is to produce high quality garments produced in Ivory Coast so that local people can be trained and can learn from work exchanges. We’re building Africa’s modern reality for the international fashion scene.’ True, the cultural spotlight will again move on. But while it is shining on us, what is most important, is what we do while the world’s eyes are on us.
Ours is the secondlargest continent on the planet, it is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and it is the source of visual imagery and traditional crafts like no other. Like Laduma and Laurence, we must embrace the opportunity this brings. It doesn’t matter whether its fashion, art, music, photography or product design, Africa’s creative class has a lot of references waiting to be unearthed. We must keep our ear to the ground, we must immerse ourselves in contemporary Africa and translate the infl uences around us into the products we create to set ourselves apart by infusing them with the authenticity that surrounds us.
This is our chance to tell a contemporary African story to an audience far bigger than we’ve ever had but we must engage with our own continent if we are to build brands or create work that will hold the world’s attention even when the cultural window has moved on.
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