Founded by Nisha Kanabar, who is from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Georgia Bobley, a native New Yorker, Industrie Africa was born from a need to craft an infrastructure that navigates the African fashion space, and the immense talent that drives it. Both Kanabar and Bobley have extensive editorial backgrounds, Kanabar previously at VOGUE India and Style.com/Arabia, and Bobley launching POPSUGAR’s Middle Eastern counterpart.
What is Industrie Africa?
Although not the first digital showroom on the continent (HauteFashionAfrica has that distinction, prior to its pivot to TV) , Industrie Africa has an interesting, and crucial element – the ability to instantly contact designers. This is certainly where the new platform lives up to its claim as ‘the ultimate access guide to the best of Africa’s fashion designers.’ Personally, I really hope it evolves to become a transactional platform – along the lines of JoorAccess opening up access to markets for emerging designers.
As a champion of African fashion and veteran of the industry on the continent – I know I am not alone when I say access to designers, both emerging and established, may often seem Byzantine and downright confusing. From Instagram accounts bereft of contact information, defunct email addresses and websites – getting in touch with designers to order or even make simple enquiries about pieces may seem like an endlessly frustrating treasure hunt, with no end in sight.
Industrie Africa solves that problem.
With biographies, listed stockists and all relevant social media handles – the site is the ultimate curation of brands with relevant information clearly and concisely laid out. And with its option to download lookbooks and show a cross section of collections, it will undoubtedly function as a gateway for international store buyers to learn about and place orders with brands on the continent.
Speaking to Vogue.com’s Chioma Nnadi, co-founder Nisha Kanabar said
“The industry here is so fractured. People in Nigeria know little about what’s happening in Kenya or Mozambique, for example,” says Kanabar, a native Tanzanian, who cut her teeth as a fashion marketer working for the likes of both Indian and American Vogue. “Our question was: How do we connect the dots between the different countries?”
Industrie Africa may well be the most holistic, digital answer so far to a core problem of the industry as a whole, and the closest thing to perfect information on designers on the continent. With plans to operate as a traditional showroom in a digital format – this forward thinking platform is one the industry desperately needs – and it comes at precisely the right time.
With 80 designers representing over 24 countries, brands featured on the platform include but are not limited to Lisa Folawiyo, Okhtein, Orange Culture, Selly Raby Kane, Christie Brown, Haute Baso, Thebe Magugu, Loza Maléombho, Tongoro Studio, Rich Mnisi, Emmy Kasbit and Taibo Bacar.