Fashion is a lucrative endeavor no doubt, because the ship of creative advent is continuously sailing with people trying to catch up with the wealth stemming from it. However, as Africa is inferred as the root of global civilization since time immemorial, fashion across all facets is a trendy discourse, both as lifestyle or enterprise.
Notably, more than a half of billionaires in Africa can appraise their wealth with fashion business. The pondering question is how did these moguls and mavericks climb their way to the top of financial exploits, courtesy fashion business?
African Fashion Billionaires
Let’s take a walk through the business scope of three Nigerians who had a stint in fashion before becoming serial entrepreneurs; Mike Adenuga, Folorunsho Alakija and Dennis Osadebe.
On Nigeria streets and some of West African countries, there is always giant green billboards featuring popular celebrities with a description “GLO Unlimited”. With the control of over 30% of Nigeria’s telecommunication market, Mike Adenuga is not just a big gun in black excellence, but a deep well to draw success story from. Surprisingly, his wealth was built on fashion.
According to Forbes, Adenuga’s “first million” came in from importing and selling jacquard lace from Europe. For a long time, businessmen like Adenuga have imported expensive varieties of Swiss and Australian lace which are popular among the wealthy class in West Africa by commissioning tailors to make traditional outfits, like the iro and buba, a fashion staple at Nigerian weddings.
Entering the Forbes list for the first time in 2011, the business magnate is now the richest person in Africa with an estimated net worth of $8.8 billion.
Folorunsho Alakija, one of the richest women in Africa today started building her wealth from fashion. Before accruing a behemoth billion-dollar worth of empire from the oil industry, Alakija studied fashion in London in the 1970s. She launched her Supreme Stitches in 1985 to make bespoke outfits for influential clientele that is composed of wives of former heads of state, most especially, Maryam Babangida, wife of an erstwhile Nigerian military leader. It was really a fortunate showbiz for Alakija before taking a leap into oil industry. Later on, Supreme Stitches got metamorphosed to The Rose of Sharon House of Fashion with mass production of T-shirts.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the African fashion industry generated an estimated $6.1 billion revenue in 2018, with Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya as the key contributors.
The founder of D&D Clothing company that makes 6 figure sales per month. Having head office in Dubai and huge production center in Kenya, he has build not only a clothing company, but the African fashion movement. The company has a ready made brand that sells all over the world and Dennis Osadebe offers custom made services to the politicians and famous people in entertainment field. The businessman has invested in startups in Africa and believe that now its time for African companies to run the world.
This Egyptian billionaires had a foray from his usual business structure (construction and chemicals) to purchasing a 6% share in Adidas in 2015. In 2016, he joined the fashion line’s supervisory board.
South Africa’s Christoffel Wiese has made fortune from building giant retail corporations, with chunk of his wealth stemming from the Shoprite supermarket chain which he led. Prior to his leading the giant retailing franchise, Wiese was the executive director of Pepkor, a discount clothing brand his parents founded. Pepkor is no longer a standalone enterprise albeit, but the clothing and general merchandise raked in 66% of the parent company in 2018.
Its Pep stores sell about 55% of all school wear in South Africa, with major distribution to many stores in other African countries. The brand is everywhere in Southern Africa that the firm bold uses the slogan, “A town is not a town without Pep”.
Furthermore, there are wives of some African business magnates holding on to fashion as an endeavor:
Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the wife of the billionaire South African mining tycoon, Patrice Motsepe, is the founder of African Fashion International, a full-service fashion agency and the brain behind fashion week events in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Billionaire Moroccan Aziz Akhannouch’s wife, Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch is the founder and CEO of Aksal Group, a luxury fashion company based in Casablanca, Morocco. Salwa is one of the wealthiest women in North Africa, with her enterprise birthed from bringing in fashion brands, like Zara and Gucci to Morocco’s major cities. Also, she built the Morocco Mall, which is today one of the largest shopping centers in Africa.