The African Fashion Foundation hosted the first of its kind Creative Industry Retreat in Accra. The event which was organized by the African Fashion Foundation coincided with the NGO’s 10-year existence and celebration of the International Year of the Creative Economy.
It attracted various industry players and stakeholders including fashion curators, designers, influencers and creatives from over 10 countries across the continent and the diaspora to connect and discuss ways of collaborating and pushing Africa’s creative industry forward.
Themed ‘Building a Sustainable Value Chain for Africa’s Creative Industry’ the three-day retreat was lined up with a series of curated activities including an arrival dinner, talk sessions, launch of sustainability project, visit to Kantamanto, luncheons, Industry Retreat Pop-up among others.
To welcome industry players and fashion stakeholders both locally and internationally, an arrival dinner was organized at Olma Colonial Suites on May 19, 2021. Hosted by Media Personality Vanessa Gyan and fashion curator Nuel Bans, it was a night of rich cultural display, amazing food, great ambience, great music, intriguing conversations and networking with top fashion icons and industry players across Africa and the diaspora including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Tanzania, UK, USA amongst others.
Ghanaian Entrepreneur and Founder of African Fashion Foundation, Roberta Annan noted that the main aim of the retreat was to get many creative African stalwarts together to discuss how they can align and work together to protect and create a sustainable future for the industry.
Addressing guests Roberta expressed: “10 years ago, I moved back to Africa with a dream to support Africa’s creative economy. The journey over the past ten years has been exciting yet challenging. When I started African Fashion Foundation, I had to fund projects myself without any support.
But I am proud of the strides we have been able to accomplish and the impact we have made. What you see tonight is the result of an idea my team and I came up with a few months ago and I am glad you were able to join us for such a historic event. I look forward to what the next ten years holds for Africa’s creative economy.”
Some of the personalities in attendance were Roberta Annan, African Fashion Foundation; Adama Paris of Adama Paristudio; Elie Kuame of Maison Elie Kuame; Emmanuel Okoro of Emmy Kasbit; Daniel Ilorin of Emmy Kasbit; Nisha Kanabar of Industrie Africa; Adebayo Oke-Lawal of Orange Culture; Mahlet Teklemariam of Adis Ababa Fashion Week; Writer & Humanitarian Rozan Ahmed; Fredericka Brooksworth of Fashion Scholar; Viola Labi founder of Woven Worldwide; Ebuka Omaliko of Omaliko Studios; Samuel Otteng of fashion design label, Otteng.
Others in attendance included Makeeba Boateng, Member of the Interim Board for Creative Arts under Ghana’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Arts & Founder of Fashion Forum Africa; Fashion icon and media personality KOD; Media Personality Dzifa Gray; CEO of Mi Prime Entertainment, P. Y. Addo-Boateng; Storyteller & Filmmaker Maame Adjei; Renown Fashion Writer, Ekow Barnes; Ghanaian fashion designers Oheneba Nana Yaw Boamah (Abrantie The Gentleman); Alima Bello of Bello Edu; Quophi Akotua of Quophi Akotua Ghana; Entertainment & Lifestyle Blogger, Ameyaw Debrah; US-based designer Clavon Leonard; US-based Writer & Director Candace Vernon; Former Director, office of digital and design innovation at Impact Hub Accra, Gideon Raji of Women’s Choice Awards among others including fashion influencers and creative professionals.
On Thursday, May 20, 2021, the retreat officially kickstarted with a series of talks at Bondai Restaurant & Bar moderated by top fashion consultant and curator, Arieta Mujay Barg. Panelists included Roberta Annan, Emmanuel Okoro, Rozan Ahmed, Frederica Brooksworth, Adama Paris, Viola Labi, Nuel Bans, Maame Adjei, Nisha Kanabar, Ekow Barnes, Bolaji Animashaun, Kweku Nimo, Fred Deegbe, Farida Alabo-Moffet.
Other industry stakeholders and guests present were Adebayo Lawal of Orange Culture, Elie Kuame, Mahlet Teklemariam, Makeeba Boateng, Daniel Olurin of Emmykasbit, Mayowa Ayodele, Mama Luu, Ghanaian actor, Harold Amenyah, PanAfrican Ambassador & TEDx Speaker, Ivy Prosper, Founder of The Shop Accra, Eyetsa Lorraine Ocloo, Elorm Sika Amankwa, Fashion PR Consultant, Faith Senam Ocloo among others.
Roberta Annan explained that the idea for the retreat was to enhance economies of scale for Africa’s creative economy by investing in infrastructure and providing more opportunities and platforms for creatives and designers to compete globally.
Discussions focused on issues within the creative economy as a way to gain perspective from participants’ experiences and exchange ideas to foster industry collaboration. Topics discussed were The Creative Economy in Africa, African Sustainability vs the Rest of the world; Inter Trade Africa-Fostering Collaboration amongst the Creative Industry; The African Diaspora: How do we forge real links? The Future of African Creativity and African Luxury.
To reiterate its commitment towards sustainability, AFF’s fashion sustainability project, Recycle, Rework, Reuse was launched during the retreat at The Lotte, Accra. Showcased during the Sustainable Innovation Summit in March 2021, the project was in collaboration with four young African fashion brands.
The project which seeks to address the issue of fashion waste and sustainable product life cycles features the works of Omaliko Godson Ebuka of Maliko Studios, Omafume Niemogha of Peperrow, Samuel Otteng of Otteng and Dalanda Detta Soumare of Maison Detta. The project underscored the immense prospects of second-hand clothing and the need for fashion designers to realize its immense potential and leverage on that to produce quality and sustainable clothing.
Guests were also taking on tour to Kantamanto, Ghana’s premier trade hub for second-hand clothing to gain first-hand experience interacting with vendors within the value chain.
The Industry Retreat Pop-Up was organized in partnership with The Lotte, Accra. Hosted by Adama Paris, the shopping experience featured several African fashion brands like Emmykasbit, Pepper Row, Victoria Grace Fashion, Otteng, Maliko Studios, Elie Kuame, Maison Detta, Even Luna, Adama Paris Studio among others. In attendance were Adeline A.A. Kufour, Dentaa Amoateng, Claudia Lumor, Aisha Ayensu and Vanessa Bannerman of Christie Brown, Christal Beeko, PY Addo-Boateng, Oheneba Nana Yaw Boamah (Abrantie The Gentleman, Doris Asomaning of Luxuria Lifestyle Ghana.
The retreat was climaxed on Saturday 22nd May,2021 with an exhibition of Kenneth Ize’s Loom Project at Mhoseenu Studios in Accra. Themed “A Redesign of the Kenneth Ize Loom”, the exhibition showcased the redesign of the traditional weaving loom by Ize and industrial designer, Nifemi Marcus-Bello of Lagos-based brand nmbello Studio. The exhibition was hosted by IFFAC Investment Holdings, in association with the African Fashion Foundation.