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Maryanne Maina
Focus | 4 juin
4 mn

De Johannesburg à Beyoncé and beyond
En Afrique, les businessmen et les stylistes les plus en vue s'apprêtent à partir à l'assaut du monde. (en anglais)

KISUA is a South African Brand making a move on the European fashion market  © KISUA
His love for African fashion led to a change in career from an economist working at Intel Capital as the Africa Director, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. After liquidating his pension to acquire his initial capital and selling some of his assets, he created KISUA, an African fashion business. The next step was to access financing from Africa investors.
Mensah begun the business through an e-commerce platform; first and later opened a physical store in Johannesburg South Africa. His creations have a growing fan base inclusive of Beyoncé. KISUA is a Swahili word used to describe a well-dressed person.

Creations from KISUA involve collaborations with various designers and the materials used to create the clothes and accessories are sourced from various African countries such as Rwanda, South Africa Ghana, Ivory Coat and other African countries. In addition, the names of the products and designs are Africa inspired.
« We do four collections that are a combination of in-house and collaborative collections which are available at KISUA’s online and physical stores. There is also the KISUA for 8 collaborative collections with Italian fashion brand 8 that is also available exclusively on YOOX.com », explained Mensah. « Here, 80% of what we do is finance, product management, logistics and supply chain management. The creative part is only 20% of our business. »
For this collection on YOOX, the design and production teams of contemporary Italian brand 8 and KISUA work closely together on fabric selection, design, sampling and production. The fabric was sourced from Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The collection is available exclusively on YOOX.com.
« The language of good design is universal, and so it comes as no surprise that contemporary Africa fashion is appreciated in Europe and across the world. We were very excited when YOOX, the world’s leading online luxury retailer they approached us to do collections fusing African flair, colours and textures with classic Italian silhouettes, » added Mensah. « The collaboration has increased interest from stores from all over the world from Austria to Australia in retailing contemporary African fashion. »

@lupitanyongo in her first @voguemagazine feature #flashbackfriday to 2014. #FashionFriday

Une photo publiée par KISUA (@kisuaonline) le

Tina Lobondi, créatrice de mode congolaise établie à Londres © DR

Tina Lobondi, créatrice de mode congolaise établie à Londres

Congolese born Tina Lobondi is an international fashion designer who established her label in Noting Hill, UK. She launched her brand in 2010, known as Tina Lobondi. Her creations have been seen in various locations ranging from Dubai, Runway Dubai, and the Catwalk Collection London. Her clientele includes well known actresses and Grammy Award winner Angelique Kidjo. Like with most business owners, she raised her capital from her personal savings.

She uses various materials ranging from Duchess Satin to Silk, to African Ankara, or Organza which she sources globally. Inclusive of her offering is a Made-to order service whereby the client can choose designs and fabrics that are created as one-off designs.

« I usually have 2 collections per year. We sell to boutiques and individuals on a bespoke basis and working with a few online retailers. Online selling has been a huge aspect of our business, » said Lobondi. « For these platforms, we create the garments chosen by the retailer and ship it as per agreement. The online partner’s role is to handle the marketing of the products. » Access to sponsorship has often proved to be a challenge for the brand to participate in trade shows which are essential for acquiring more clients and growing the brand.
« Some companies are often interested in supporting fashion brands though it becomes quite tough to access especially when you want to attend trade shows in different markets », mentioned Lobondi.
« When you look at this business, one major challenge besides access to financing is the business know-how that is essential for this sector. Creativity is very well established but there is a need to constantly combine the two strengths in this industry. Through our model, we are able to collaborate with designers and provide the essential business strengths to partner with their creative abilities », said Mensah.
Maryanne Maina
Étudiante à HEC Paris - Luxury Consultant on Africa  
D'origine kenyane et actuellement étudiante à HEC MBA Luxe, je suis consultante sur les questions du Luxe en Afrique. J'écris en freelance pour les pages Luxe et Philanthropie de Forbes Afrique
Crédits photo : Tina Lobondi, KISUA, DR
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Article paru dans le numéro #114 CONSTRUCTIF
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