The blog’s founder and director Jacqueline Shaw, is also the author of a groundbreaking new book Fashion Africa, which is due to be released next month.
We caught up with Ms. Shaw to learn more about her background and her inspirations behind her upcoming book.
How did the concept for Fashion Africa come about?
The book Fashion Africa was originally created as one of my outcomes for my Masters in Ethical Fashion. I had focused my degree on African fashion and textiles and the industry of manufacturing and felt that there was not any books in the market that presented modern African fashion and manufacturing in a contemporary way.
For the past few years now, you have been actively involved in increasing awareness of African fashion. At what point did you come to the realization that Africa had potential to be an international hub for trade and manufacturing?
It was this realisation that made me start what I do now. I heard what I call ‘the African heartbeat’ and it was only beating faster and the more I looked into the market, the more I found what was out there and the stories that needed to be told
Did you have any misconceptions before making the book? Did anything surprise you?
No not really, I guess the only surprise I had were the designers who were so open to being part of it. I was nobody really to them, someone who just came out of the blue but they bought into the idea and supported it 100%. For them I am truly grateful
Were there any obstacles setting up foundations in Africa for your research?
The main one would be location and getting information but I feel my love for travelling and my strong networking skills have allowed me to enter doors that others may find difficult to open
You have a background in fashion. Do you feel like your education was vital in preparing you to tackle the book?
I feel it gave me a strong foundation and understanding that has made me more appreciative of how important African fashion and textiles are in making a difference to communities and creatives in an often unappreciated continent
What are you hoping that people will take away from Fashion Africa?
A new perception of African fashion and a change in the image that was given out before. And to just adore it as much as I do and support it with purchases and new business ideas.
You have also done a lot of work in Ethical fashion and sustainability. Can you explain what this means and its importance in your advocacy?
Ethical fashion and sustainability is about considering the triple bottom line within the textile industry. Within your business model you consider the people, the planet and profit as without profit you have no business to support and pay the people who work for you. It’s about being responsible in your sourcing and production methods and having an holistic approach to the industry and the full supply chain of the textile industry.
Aside from the book, you are the founder of Africa Fashion Guide, which was recently name by the Guardian newspaper as one of ‘the top 10 African blogs’. How does it feel to get recognized for the work that you are doing?
To me it is fantastic to be appreciated but it’s just what I do. Any promotion I get is great because it promotes the people that I set up the company to promote and support in the first place … the designers, artisans and manufacturers in Africa’s fashion and textile industry
How would you describe your personal style?
Relaxed and comfortable but a different look everyday – street wear, to ladylike to afro-centric…I like to mix up what I have created with regular new looks, without having to constantly buy new clothes.
The ethical fashion market is growing at an alarming rate, but is still a niche market compared to a lot of the big retailers. What do you see for the future of ethical fashion?
I believe in time it will become the norm. We cannot continue to consume and use the industry in the way that we are going…resources will end up unavailable and the treatment of those working in the industry and actually making our clothes is often unfair and this just has to change. The more it is highlighted, the more likely change will be. .
And where can we get the book?
It can be purchased via Jacaranda books, Amazon UK, Amazon US and The Book Depository
We are thankful to Jacqueline Shaw and Ruth Killick Publicity for sourcing the images for this feature.
Fashion Africa is available from Jacaranda books, Amazon UK, Amazon US and The Book Depository.
To learn more about the book and to stay updated on the African fashion and textile industry, visit Africa Fashion Guide.