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Fashion houses ignore black shoppers

SUPPORT: Sáfójò founder Sarah Teibo with her upmarket African-inspired umbrellas. She believes BME consumers should support black-owned companies

A NEW survey has revealed that three quarters of African Caribbean women in the UK are happy to go to lengths to satisfy their taste for expensive designer labels.

The study carried out by Sáfójò a London-based company that produces high end African themed umbrellas, found that 48 per cent of the women interviewed spend £200-£500 per month on designer wear.

Topping Teibo’s survey as fashion brand favourites of African and Caribbean woman were fashion powerhouses Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

Sáfójò founder Sarah Teibo told The Voice she was not surprised at the survey’s findings.


“I genuinely think one of the reasons we tend to do that is because when you get to a certain a level or a change of job some people go the lengths of changing their whole wardrobe to compliment the lifestyle change,” she said.

Teibo added that the reason she decided to conduct the survey was to debunk the commonly held belief among luxury goods retailers that black people don’t spend money on expensive items.

The survey’s findings come at the same time as the iconic New York Fashion week draws to an end. Black fashion commentators have pointed out a continued lack of diversity at the event; out of 260 fashion shows only three scheduled were by black designers.

Also recent figures from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) found that people from black and minority ethnic communities account for a twelfth of the spending in the fashion industry yet they represent the 14 per cent of consumers that large fashion companies regularly fail to target.

It also found that the spending power of black and minority ethnic (BME) consumers stands at £300 billion. Yet despite the failure to recognise this spending power, recent years have seen the fashion industry tap into African cultural influences both on the runway and in advertising.


African textiles such as kente and batik have featured in top fashion shows, high fashion magazines and boutiques, creating a platform for the continent’s designers to share their talent both locally and internationally.

Referring to this trend Teibo said: “The fashion industry is picking up the signs that this is something that can sell. I think it was only a question of time. Given our inspired designs and our inspired concepts, they know that if they slap their brand names on it, we will go for it. African-inspired fashion is coming to the forefront but we should be the ones creating it and we should be the ones putting it out there.”

She added that the industry’s neglect of BME women consumers highlights the need to support fashion products created by black-owned companies.

She said: “I think people are really starting to appreciate the authenticity that goes into black designs. They stand out and the make the person wearing it stand out as well. Support from within our own community is pertinent to our growth and consequently it will help create a more visible representation of our culture in fashion. A lot of the time, the excellent quality we desire can be found from these brands. We have a responsibility to take ownership and push out the beauty of Africa to the rest of the world through fashion.”

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