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Opinion Blind spots in the fashion industry

Why are Ghanaians not supporting their local designers, Portia Arthur asks.

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There has been tremendous changes in the local fashion industry over the past twenty years.

Gone were the days when western clothes, popularly called ‘obroni wawu,’ dominated the local market ranging from underwear to bed sheets to shirts.

Today, we have full time designers, models and outlets who sell the artistically crafted pieces of the local designers.

However, most of the designs have low patronage here in Ghana.

Instead of wearing local designs, some Ghanaian celebrities are often seen on the red carpet wearing designs of international brands like Armani, Louis Vuitton among others. Most recent is the Ghana Movie Awards.

Even the models who parade the various runways at numerous fashion events ditch the local outfits they leave the runway.

What accounts for our low levels of local patronise?

A personal observation reveals that most of the outfits made by local designers are expensive, and a low income earner will prefer to buy more of the foreign used clothes and get varieties for the same amount as one local designed outfit.

And, a quick look down Oxford Street will revealed that most of the designs made by the local fashion designers look alike. There seems to be no difference in the works of company A and B, hence no creativity. This could account for the low patronage of their works.

One can also say the local fashion industry is a one sided affair. Most of the designers are focused on the same trend, geared towards creating outfits for a small section of the general public.

I haven’t seen any major fashion house showcase outfits for maternity women, kids, the housewife and worshippers in the Islamic community.

As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, so why have the local fashion designers paid deaf ears to the fashion needs of these groups?

By all means we must maintain our Customs and tradition. However, change has to be made when possible. Most of the elders in the country frown upon the outfits worn by the modern Ghana youth, why?

Most of these local outfits are not made in proportion to the customs and traditions of the people.

Arguably, there is no influx of the works of the local designer on the market. There is no public education on season trends of outfits to wear. People buy and wear any outfit based on their own discretion.

Generally, people have a perception that clothes in the boutique are expensive and won’t bother window shopping.

As experts in other professions are nurtured right from the secondary schools, more facilities should be established to train and guide prospective fashion designers for diversity and creativity.

Companies that manufacture design accessories like thread, needle, polyesters and others should be opened in Ghana. This will provide employment, source of foreign exchange and in one way or the other, reduce the prices of locally designed outfits.

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