|Fashion Ambassador of Liberia: Kimma Wreh|
Throughout the developed world, African nationals are racing to build sustainable marketplaces for independent designers of Afro-centric inspired fashions. Numerous African inspired Fashion Week events have emerged throughout three major regions: North America, Western Europe and West Africa. Setting the pulse for this movement are the agendas of the World Fashion Organization (WFO), African Union and Africa Fashion Reception (AFR) to develop wealth creation and eventually free African societies from a dependency on world aid. The ambitions of these organizations are for the further development of 'World Fashion' by helping developing nations improve intercontinental trade. Overall, WFO aims to create a global marketplace for emerging fashion brands under the theme "We Fashion All".
The Africa Fashion Reception (AFR) is an initiative of Legendary Gold Ltd in collaboration with the African Union and the World Fashion Organization. Mr. Lexy Mojo-Eyes, founder of Legendary Gold is a member of the Board of Governors of WFO. Apparel is the chosen market for economic development in Africa because of the high degree of influence African aesthetics has had in the western markets. "Rather than receiving financial aid from the international community, African nations need help developing commercially viable creative industries. The fashion industry has multiplying chains of vocation, which can create wealth. For example, the clothing industry creates jobs for Apparel Designers, Accessory Designers, Tailors, Weavers, Textile Designers, Pattern Makers, Wardrobe Stylists, Models, Fashion Photographers and Writers etc.
The plan for staging an international trading platform is to span events across three continents: Africa, Europe, and North America with annual events in Paris, Montreal and Nigeria to form the largest African marketplace for "Made In Africa" garments, textiles and lifestyle products. Mr. Lexy explains, “Each participating country will be given an exhibition pavilion where they can promote not only their apparel and accessories products, but also culture and tourism potentials. Each participating country will be represented by a nominated Apparel Designer to introduce their country's tourism, trade and apparel manufacturing resources.” There are currently thirty African nations being represented by a top designer from each country that will be featured in an exclusive fashion runway show. Unfortunately, logistical obstacles such as language barriers, political conflicts and under developed infrastructure are cause for hindrance to some of the 54 African nations participation.
The aim is to expand the potential power of fashion as a tool for fighting poverty in Africa by creating wealth through the empowerment of women and youth. in the various fashion vocations through training, capacity building schemes, workshops and setting up of medium/small scale businesses thereby supporting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063. Mr. Lexy Mojo-Eyes is a member on the Board of Governors at WFO and heads the annual Africa Fashion Reception event in collaboration with the African Union. “We wanted to take advantage of some of WFO’s platforms for producing fashion events” states Lexy. “Africa needs to build its own platform. We Africans have not been able to get into the mainstream of the global fashion networks and events. Apparel manufacturers in African nations can effectively compete if Africa’s governing leaders decide to create a level playground for Africa’s apparel manufacturers through heavy investments in the apparel sector like China did. The garment and textile industry can help Africa to eradicate poverty if only our leaders will realize the potentials in the fashion sector. Since we all wear clothes, this shows the economic viability of the garment industry. After the 2nd World War, the apparel sector brought Europe back to wealth creation through industrialization. The apparel market is doing the same for Asian countries. Fashion is the highest creator of jobs around the world.” explains Lexy.
|Pictured with Excellency Mr. Joseph N. Boakai - Vice President of the Republic of Liberia; Kimma Wreh is commissioned as Liberia's Fashion Ambassador by Liberia's National Tailors, Textiles, Garments & Allied Workers' Union Inc.|
The Africa Fashion Reception is a Pan African initiative that will bring together fashion designers, dignitaries and media from over thirty African countries in a celebration of the proud theme ‘Africa is the new inspiration of global fashion’. Preparations are being made for designers to present in Paris on November 21st. After the 2015 Paris event, the next African Reception event will be hosted in January 2016 at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Africa Fashion Reception event is aimed at attracting global attention to Africa’s garment and textile industries. With the AFR event positioned during the African Union Summit, the coordinators will work to engage the governing leaders to help improve intercontinental trading conditions for better collaboration amongst fashion practitioners throughout the African continent. Activities lined up during the African Fashion Reception in Addis Ababa include the first African Fashion Business Forum with the theme ‘Exploring African Rich Dress Culture for its Social Economic Growth’. The ultimate goal is to promote self-reliance as the initiative for economic stability for citizens of Africa.
Designer Kimma Wreh of TeKay Designs has recently been recognized by the Vice President of Liberia, Honorable Joseph Boakai as Liberia’s official Fashion Ambassador. Wreh will promote the nation's design talent, tailoring and manufacturing capabilities, and showcase Liberian made clothing and accessories on the runway during the African Fashion Reception event in Paris. Kimma Wreh is a Liberian National who resides in the United States, and creates bridal and formal attire and jewelry for special occasions. TeKay Designs has distinguished African-inspired apparel and gown collection that is produced in the West-African country of Ghana; with a manufacturing expansion into Liberia.
“I am very proud to share my success in fashion with the people of Liberia.” explains Kimma Wreh. “I’ve donated clothing to needy women and children of Liberia because I want to help the people. I am honored to be nominated and represent my home country of Liberia during this prestigious event. My dream of being a fashion designer extends beyond myself. I intend to expand fashion manufacturing into Monrovia, Liberia. Apparel accessories production can offer viable opportunities for employment and a better way of life for the people of Liberia, as well as many of the other developing nations that are represented at the African Fashion Reception event.
I fled Liberia during the civil war in the 1980's. Since then I've earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University, and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from LeTourneau University in Houston, Texas. My venture in fashion has been long and not without struggles. However, I've begun to see my hard work pay off. The opportunity to introduce Liberia's industrial capabilities to the western markets is another proud moment of success for me. I want to collaborate with other apparel and accessory designers who wish to expand production in Liberia as well.“ explains Wreh.
Partnering with Liberia’s National Tailors, Textiles, Garments and Allied Workers Union (LNTTGAWU); Ambassador Wreh will lead a delegation of fifteen Liberian professional tailors and government officials to participate in the Africa Fashion Reception event. Liberia’s Assistant Minister of Culture, as well as the Assistant Minister of Tourism will also be part of the delegation. The tailors union will present a portfolio of sample merchandise produced at the Liberian Tailors Union’s facilities. The presentation will include a live demonstration by a textile weaver producing Liberia’s official country cloth on the premises. Working on behalf of the Liberian government, the garment workers produce official uniforms for police, military, immigration officials, hospitals, school uniforms for students, and custom made garments. The union offers Liberians fundamental training courses in tailoring, weaving, creating Tie and Dye cloths, home fashions for interior decoration, business and finance management courses. The union provides advanced courses for professional tailoring, such as pattern making, advanced garment design and construction. Advanced business management and strategic financial planning are also a part of the curriculum. As the established western apparel markets continue to look to African culture for style trends and creative inspiration, The Tailors Union sees opportunity for small enterprises in Liberia who are professionally savvy about the business of fashion. The future holds potential benefits with preparing Liberian professionals for the attention and buzz about the African fashion industry. According to Liberia’s Tailors Union, Liberia’s educated workforce is invaluable for Liberia’s participation in a marketplace that promotes the African culture, it’s history and traditions.