BRICS+ Fashion Summit: How to build a global fashion brand as an emerging designer

Beona Gapare.

Beona Gapare.

Published Dec 5, 2023


At the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in August, it was declared that other countries such as Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will join BRICS in 2024.

And the alliance started with the Fashion Fund hosting the first BRICS+ Fashion Summit in Moscow, Russia, from November 28 until December 2.

Moscow is ranked number nine in the global ratings of fashion cities, meaning it’s one of the biggest fashion regions in Eastern Europe.

Fashion people from all over the world braved the cold weather and participated in the BRICS+ Fashion Summit, where several fashion activities took place, including showrooms, fashion shows, films and dialogues.

One of the most important conversations was on emerging fashion designers and the tools they can use to build their brands.

It is no secret that the fashion industry is full of talented designers who have the potential to build global brands. However, many of them are still unable to compete internationally even though their designs are on par with international standards.

Kunjina showcased at the BRICS+ Fashion Summit (Ethiopia).

At the “On Style on Futurism, The Future of Fashion” dialogue, Beona Gapare, a digital talent manager from Zimbabwe, spoke about how emerging designers can use technology to expand their brands to a global reach.

“Technology is there to help emerging designers connect, to be able to advertise and bring their brands to a global platform. It was easy for new designers to reach beyond local bodies with the introduction of new technology.

“We helped them build and through social media, we helped them connect with influencers and celebrities to sell more of their products.

“The use of social media helps designers with global reach because technology is what we embrace with designers who are young and want to be well known,” said Gapare.

As much as technology is a great tool to help designers connect with potential customers, some people were concerned that the new technology, AI, may be a threat to emerging designers, whose creativity may be limited compared to technology.

“Yes, the introduction of AI will reduce or limit the number of people working on a project, so instead of having 100 designers to think of ideas, creativity, production process, we can only have one machine to take care of that.

“That impacts society and the people somehow. However, we still need people who will do the physical work.

“The competition between humans and AI is big because AI brings more creativity but, for that to work, we need people, so I think the two can complement each other,” added Gapare.

In another business programme, Nana Tamakloe, founder of Accra Fashion Week, spoke about how emerging designers should sell their brands to compete with international brands.

Africa has many talented designers who remain unknown because they do not sell their brands. Yes, they can use social media to push their designs, but not much can be said about their brands.

This is why Tamakloe emphasised the importance of selling the brand more because once people know about your brand, it becomes easier for them to buy your designs.

Kunjina designs.

“When we talk about local designers competing in the global industry, it’s a challenge because most people don’t understand that most big brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci are all owned by six companies across the world.

“These are not companies that do usual things like competing with designers in terms of good designs.

“These are companies that have marketing teams, they do a lot of research, and most importantly, they understand that they are not selling clothes, they are selling brands. And this is the difference between most younger brands and international brands.

“Most young designers are so focused on the designs, they are so focused on the perfection, the cuts and the trends, whereas we have international companies who focus on the brands,” said Tamakloe.

“A lot of times when you see people wearing Chanel, Gucci or LV, their minds are not so much on what it looks like, their mind are on who they are wearing. If you wear that brand, people already know, something many emerging designers don’t understand.

“When you see Gucci or LV, even when you look at their clothes, their branding is there. You can see the C for Chanel and the LV for Louis Vuitton.

“And this is the transition that local designers cannot grasp. They need to focus on building the name. Yes, the clothes are important, but the objective is to push the brand, make people aware of the brand.”

One can argue that, unlike the big fashion companies, emerging designers do not have the budget to hire marketing teams, which is true.

However, there are ways in which you can make your clothes market themselves, like signature branding. For example, at the David Tlale show, one of the ladies was wearing an Ezoketho kimono, and I could easily spot it because the brand has signature patterns.

It’s the same with Imprint ZA, you can easily spot it. And that’s just one of the things emerging designers can do to brand themselves.

We are not saying they should do repetitive designs, no. But what they can do is make sure they find their signature, which is visible in every garment they produce.

“We need to know that fashion is a multibillion-dollar business.The emerging designers need to work on quality and originality, but at the same time, they need to focus on promoting the name,” said Tamakloe.

Most importantly, emerging designers need to wear their brands. You cannot promote someone’s brand by wearing it instead of your own because in most cases, creatives are easy to tell.

So make sure you dress like a creative so that you turn heads everywhere you go.

That way, more people will be curious to ask about your outfit and just like that, you have already sold your brand.