Global fashion designers like Yves Saint Laurent took inspiration from Africa decades ago and more recently brands like Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior have embraced the continent’s style and broadened its appeal. But consumers now want products made by Africans, not replicas produced by Western clothing chains, according to Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, who owns Ethiopian shoe company, soleRebels, which has a dozen stores from Singapore to Greece.
“The global consumer today is hyper-aware. They want authentic and innovative ideas delivered from the authors of those ideas,” Bethlehem said. “We have always had incredible design and production talent here, but it was invisible. That is changing.”