Africa’s fashion industry embracing technology

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  • Africa’s fashion and textile industry is the second-largest sector after agriculture with an estimated market value of US$31 billion
  • The use of tech in fashion has been brought to a much broader scale including the use of apps and the creation of smart textiles
  • As the majority of Africans were forced to stay home, there emerged countless online clothing stores, most of which were using social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) as marketing tools

Like many other sectors across the continent, the fashion industry is also taking to embracing technology to improve operations.

Africa’s fashion and textile industry is the second-largest sector after agriculture with an estimated market value of US$31 billion in 2020 and growing annually.

While combining tech with fashion may seem farfetched, technology has always been an essential factor in the production of clothes and the different styles in fashion since the beginning of time.

It is however not until the 19th century when sewing machines were invented that technology had a significant influence on the fashion industry.

This adoption of technology changed the rate at which manufacturers produced clothes, This enabled manufacturers to minimise on the cost of production and meet increasing demand, a true testament that technology has always been a key driver of the fashion industry.

In the modern-day world, the use of tech in fashion has been brought to a much broader scale including the use of apps and the creation of smart textiles among many other uses.

This is why Africa’s fashion industry needs to be at the forefront of embracing technology. This will enable the industry to thrive in an increasingly global digital economy.

Models in African wear. [Photo/venturesafrica.com]
How is technology incorporated into fashion?

The Covid-19 pandemic prompted numerous innovations and tech-savvy solutions for the fashion industry on the continent during the lockdown restrictions.

As the majority of Africans were forced to stay home, there emerged countless online clothing stores, most of which were using social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) as marketing tools.

Anyone interested in breaking into the fashion industry needs to tap into the opportunities technology has created in order to survive the global digital revolution.

For instance, the use of Artificial Intelligence in fashion could provide shoppers with a more personalized shopping experience by studying the customers’ interests, behaviours and past shopping patterns.

This will give shoppers exactly what they need while saving them countless trips between many stores trying to compare prices, styles and garment quality.

The Internet of Things (IoT) can also improve both the shopping experience and fashion.

Through this technology, clothing items get to be connected to the internet and collect various sets of information that can be made accessible to you through an app.

Currently, the most common wearable technology fashion is fitness accessories.

Investment in Africa’s fashion tech

There are countless opportunities for Africa’s youth in fashion tech with the potential to shake up the industry on the continent and give a much-needed boost to the creative economy.

One such firm is Morocco’s Nessiam. The inclusive lingerie tech startup recently secured USUS$306,000 (3 million Dirhams) equity funding from the CDG Group’s investment arm, CDG Invest, as part of the 212 Founders programme.

Nessiam provides a diverse and specialized product line of lingerie to fulfill the demands of all women meaning the company sells attractive, high-quality innerwear to women at a fair price.

Mohammed Damiri and Hamza Aouadi launched Nessiam in 2021 after observing that the majority of Moroccan consumers had a true demand for high-quality underwear in all sizes at a cheap price.

“Through Nessiam, Hamza Aouadi and I hope to do more than just meet market demand by offering products to our consumers at lower pricing. We also want to give ALL women a voice through our collections. This vision has become a reality thanks to the support of 212 Founders, who have enabled us to establish a brand that pursues our beliefs,” Nessiam co-founder Mohammed Damiri said.

The firm will use the funds to build various product lines for the upcoming summer season including swimwear and accessories in order to become a benchmark brand in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

“Nessiam has demonstrated resilience and inventiveness in democratising an ethical brand in a fashion market dominated by fast fashion businesses. We won this challenge by incorporating technology into the project’s DNA, such as a digitalized sales process, user experience, marketing, community interactions, and so on. We were honoured to assist them in developing a strong brand on Moroccan soil and allowing them to take the initial steps in the MENA area. Following the lifting, we will make every effort to make Nessiam a prominent player in the region’s Fashion Tech,” CDG Invest Director of the 212 Founders Programme  Youssef Mamou said.

Read: Africa Fashionomics: Making sense of the US$31 Billion industry

Kanyali Cynthia is a Kenyan-based financial journalist with key specialisation in data and tech reporting and over eight years of experience.

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