Sandiso Ngubane said the following in his article “South African Fashion Must Not Condone Mediocrity” in 2011:
“I believe everyone in the fashion industry, for it to grow to its full potential, should be held to the highest standard, be it designers, stylists, fashion editors, publicists and even us, the fashion media and blogosphere. No one should be immune to criticism and we should often exhibit our love for the industry by participating in forums of discussion to evaluate and improve whatever it is we do.”
These sentiments can easily be replicated here with regard to the Kenyan fashion industry. If you are in the fashion industry in whatever field, you must ask yourself what contribution are you making to the industry and what goals you are pursuing? Did you become a designer for the “fame and glory?” or to be featured in magazines or “tabloids” and other such red carpet shindigs? Or do you have a passion for the industry and what can really be achieved? Do you really believe that, as Kenyans, we can compete internationally in the fashion world by being creative, innovative, and challenging the bounds and showcasing who we are and our identity?
Food for thought as the New Year unfolds. What will 2014 mean for you in terms of your goals and dreams?
Professor Onwubiko from the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Nigeria in Nsukka wrote an article discussing the impact factor (impact globally of journals) or mediocrity. Although he may have been discussing universities and the apparent lack of pursuit of the impact factor, what he says resonates in this topic and specifically in Kenya with regard to the fashion industry. This is what he said:
“Finally, to call for any alternative to the Impact factor is not just shear laziness and cowardice, but being down right dishonest to ourselves and posterity. It is, to abscond from our national responsibility as torchbearers and custodians of knowledge to parasites, afraid to confront global competition and cooperation – the only path to our national development. It exposes the academic staff as lacking in national pride, and the basic human urge to honestly plan for our children and our future. By choosing to be selfish and lazy, we prefer other nations to feed us and our children, rather than our investing in the necessary hard work to feed ourselves; that we desire to return to the dependency of the animal kingdom where history is made for us rather than taking up the challenge to make our own history.” (emphasis added)
So what shall we choose as Kenyans/fashion designers/fashion professionals? Do we want to be excellent or average? Unique or mediocre? Impactful or forgotten?
Being in the industry is not all glam and fab, its work, like any other industry. It requires dedication, persistence, commitment, excellence, progress and a vision. Being a designer who makes the same garments in the same designs for year on end is wasting everyone’s time including their own. Making excuses right left and center for why you couldn’t do one thing or another is nothing but excuses.
Missed opportunities to be better than you were yesterday by creating a false impression that the opportunity did not exist due to falsified or otherwise exaggerated circumstances = excuse.
So, with 2014 upon us, perhaps the fashion industry in Kenya should tackle a few of these loose ends and repel mediocrity to really build a strong foundation that can really make this industry economically viable. This will not only create jobs and empower people but will also turn this profession into an economically viable one. It will also show the world that Kenyans are not mediocre and that we can be a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry internationally. Aristotle once said that “we are what we repeatedly do… excellence is not act but a habit.”