On a recent visit to Lagos for a fashion show, veteran supermodel Naomi Campbell called on leading global fashion magazine to start an Africa edition and it’s sparked a bit of debate in Africa’s fashion circles about whether the region really needs Vogue or if Vogue needs Africa. There’s also been some talk about Africa designers and followers doing more to support homegrown fashion publications.
One thing that people on all sides of the debate seem to agree on though is that fashion in Africa is a vibrant, diverse space that does not get enough recognition for how it has influenced global trends. Those who are for Vogue starting an Africa edition believe that it will give the continent’s fashion industry the global visibility it deserves to foster its growth.
Those who are apprehensive about the move fear that Vogue will represent African fashion in a way that only exoticizes and fetishizes African fashion but to the benefit of the West without any real benefits accruing to the cultures and designers who have been responsible for creating and growing Africa’s fashion legacy.
Either way, Vogue would be playing catch-up as African fashion is alive, well and constantly reinventing itself. All one needs to come to this conclusion is simply walk through the streets of Dakar, Addis, Lagos, Nairobi or Accra or “visit” them on Instagram. The appeal of the fashion publication that Anna Wintour revolutionized and the fact that Vogue UK now has a British-Ghanaian editor (Edward Enninful) who is keen to diversify the publication—and in fact masterminded the 2008 all black Vogue Italia top-selling edition—might still not be enough reason for us to believe that a Vogue for Africa is what we need.
Check out my full article for Quartz Africa here.