One thing that is true is this. If you are going to do something, do it with all of your might and soul. Do it wholly and to the best of your ability and when you need to teach yourself a skill to move forward, you do it. The same goes, evidently, for fashion designers. If you choose the career of a fashion designer then, by all means, do your job to the best of your ability and pursue excellence, not perfection, excellence. If you choose to be a fashion event organizer, same rule applies.
This means goodbye to unfinished hems, goodbye to poorly constructed clothes, goodbye to overpriced basic copies of other peoples designs, saying goodbye to the same designs over and over and most importantly saying goodbye to being boring. As an event planner, say for a fashion show, this means goodbye to saying an event starts at 6:30pm only for it to start at 9pm then laughing it off as “African timing”. African timing is a poor excuse for a lack of commitment, respect of other people’s time and professionalism, nothing to laugh about when you profess either one. This also means goodbye to unprofessional models, ill produced shows and mediocre presentations.
Pursuing excellence does not mean that you will be excellent but you surely will be closer than before. It simply means that your body of work will surprise you and others because you will constantly want to excel from your previous work. Evidently, therefore, their will be growth.
“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.” Sandiso Ngubane
The Kenyan fashion industry is only just in its infancy and this is exactly why bad habits, unprofessionalism, lack of gumption and mediocrity needs to be tackled (amongst other traits). Being young, it is understandable that we are groping in the dark, to some extent, without a common vision and goal for the industry and certainly not, it seems, to build a remarkable and powerful voice in the fashion industry. You are only as strong as your foundation and the foundation of the Kenyan fashion industry is rather unclear. This does not excuse the few out there who are excelling as designers and producing results.
However, being young does not excuse purposeful ignorance in the face of available knowledge. We have the opportunity to learn from many other fashion industries in the world who have grown to become fashion capitals and have been impactful. (Note, we said learn not copy). There are opportunities to be exposed intentionally whether physically, online or through asking those who know but either way we need not grow alone. We can take a page from history and learn from them, learn what to avoid and how to improve.
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?
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?
Read further on “Some Things Will Need To Change- Fleeing from mediocrity- Part II” coming soon.