Do we really have an Ethiopian “Fashion Industry?”

I do not think so! And I am always puzzled to comprehend the cultural dynamics of what is called the fashion industry particularly the idea of having beauty contest to recover the image of our country.

I believe there is nothing new in saying that the so-called Ethiopian fashion scene constitutes the minutest percentage of the population who are residing mainly in Addis Ababa. If we look at designers, models, ‘fashion journalists,’ and audience members for fashion shows and beauty contests in this country they have nothing in common but money. I am daring to say that their activities carry not a bit of social relevance whatsoever. Once I remember a journalist called Gezahegn Kera has told them in public that they cannot create a good image of a country with fashion, modeling and beauty contest. He told them that their actions are nonsense in this regard.

For me as well they’re quite a useless bunch and I am sure after reading this they would be thinking the same way about me as well. Fair enough.

Whatever they might have labeled me as they did to Gezahegn Kera, I do have the right to raise a few questions when the enthusiastic fashionestas – who entirely exist in quixotic conditions   – go on to make statements to the effect that they are ‘defying an Ethiopian image of poverty and famine how their events have more to do with matters of business and economics than mere entertainment.

Well, in no way are these flashy events, that enjoying heavy coverage in Ethiopian print media, similar to a bunch of cosmetic ladies and nowadays even men are joining them in standing up to an Ethiopian image of poverty. But the reality is this image of poverty and famine has always been around.

These stylish city dwellers, about whom we are forced to read and see so much of in our magazines  like’ Kumneger’Tsegereda’ or ‘Rose’ and on ETV as well, are actually quite a miniature lot. Their existence in the public eye is mainly due to the fact that our media is the duplicate of western cheap media culture. A media culture which focuses on life of super stars of many kind of entertainment.

I’m afraid   these fashionistas   have always been around even during the imperial regime though I am not sure about Derg regime and never have they managed to exhibit the kind of relevant image that is required for reviving the country’s cultural health.

I believe this can only be done through the aggressive encouragement of things like popular theatre and cinema, indigenous folk music of all the languages that are spoken in this country (I believe this is going forward  in a right direction with some exceptions), literature that clearly reflects the political, economic and social challenges of the times, and debates on national identity involving accomplished intellectuals, historians, politicians (living here and abroad) and the masses, and not papaya-faced and mango headed cranks camouflaging as talk show hosts or ‘experts’ on TV. What do you think?

 

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Endalk – That is primarily because of the social convention of starting a comment 😉

    However though, in the very opening of your argument if quote is needed “I am always puzzled to comprehend the cultural dynamics of what is called the fashion industry particularly the idea of having beauty contest to recover the image of our country.“; and I’m afraid that is what is being reflected in the whole writing.

    First of all, the fashion scene is the result of the fashion industry. A lot of products are results of the huge industry. Look at what you wear, it is the result of the fashion industry somewhere in the globe; and the same is true for what you called ‘the so-called Ethiopian fashion scene’ which is a very itchy way of addressing the huge potential market; and i wouldn’t blame you as it is a believe substantiated by no fact at all.

    Over the top of my head, the Ethiopian traditional clothes are getting stylish every now and then. Manufacturing industries are hugely considering the use of local row material despite the staggering local products market. Market like this could be bridged with fashion shows. More important to all, though it is performed by few, the consumers are by and large the majority; and that is market- that is the the tip of the thinking out of what you called ‘fashion scene’ – whatever your implication is. If You are concerned about the working culture of the people doing the business (like you said ‘nothing in common‘) , well that is how everything begins; and if you stop hammering, it is gonna get stronger and unified.

    About the beauties who are doing the show, Yes indeed they are participating internationally at a ‘global scale’. It is a waste to explain the leveling impact of the beauties to uplift the new face of Ethiopia. Plus, they are trying to do their job to the best they could, and I don’t see a reason to point fingers at them unless you are trying to gain public attention by associating your idea with them.

    Perhaps I should end up by using your own statement of “ For me as well they’re quite a useless bunch and I am sure after reading this they would be thinking the same way about me as well. Fair enough.“. Sometimes, it is not fair enough , what is fair is not public humiliation, rather trying to understand the glimpse of what somebody is trying to accomplish and help in the process if you can is of the reasons for going to school.

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