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The African fashion industry can leverage digital and circular solutions to rebuild a healthy, resilient industry whose systems rely on interconnection and collaboration.

This is part of what was said during the second webinar event organized by FashionomicsAfrica.org, the African Development Bank’s Fashionomics Africa initiative in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme.

The webinar took place on Thursday 3 September. Eighty-eight delegates participated in the event. The panel was made up of industry experts from the Parsons School of Design in New-York, the UK-based charity – Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the creative minds behind sustainable African fashion brands, Orange Culture, Mariama Fashion Production and Qaaldesigns.

The goal of the Fashionomics Africa platform is to enable African entrepreneurs operating in the Textile, Apparel and Accessories industry to create and grow their businesses, with a focus on women and youth.

Through the Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and Mobile App, the African Development Bank is also analyzing the impact of the textile sector on climate change and environment to deploy climate-friendly solutions in Africa.

Changing how African fashion works

Webinar discussions  focussed on building more resilient value chains through innovative business models that will keep garments in use longer, use renewable materials and recycle old clothes into new products.

“My dream is to develop a healthy fashion industry in Africa. We need to be able to rely and build ourselves from our own system. At the end of the day, we have so much that needs to be done and we can't do it alone,” said Orange Culture's Adebayo Oke-Lawal.

“Covid-19 forced our world to rethink our system. We can absolutely do this in an excellent way. It’s a question of interconnection and understanding. My waste could be someone else's resources. What is needed is collaboration and breaking down the typical silos fashionpreneurs face in the industry,” said Brendan McCarthy of the Parsons School of Design.

McCarthy, who said digital tools have become a phenomenon and have revolutionized the way the fashion industry works, noted that Parsons School of Design is working closely with the Bank to leverage digital tools to support the African textile and fashion industry.

“African fashion entrepreneurs see in the pandemic and the acceleration of digital tools, an opportunity to reconceptualize and better educate designers, but also consumers,” said Bintou Sadio Diallo, who spoke on behalf of the African Development Bank.

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