Fashion Consultant Beatrace Angut Oola does not only call the German fashion scene her home. As a fashion agent, she also succeeds internationally with various cooperations with globally active designers. Born in Germany and raised in Uganda, she is the CEO of a creative agency called apya productions in Hamburg. Here she develops communications strategies for African networking and connects with international fashion brands. In an interview, she explains why her African roots are so important for her work and how she assesses the future of recent fashion of African origin.
You are a successful Fashion Consultant. Which influence do your African roots have on your work?
My African origin has a major influence on my work. Because of my Ugandian roots the topic around recent fashion with African origin is certainly interesting for me. Because of my African origin, it is easy to me to communicate my visions to my audience and customers. Apart from that, it is really important to me to represent designers who not only just produce in Euope but also in Africa. Reason for that is first of all that I can identify easily with it and secondly, the quality of in Africa produced fashion fulfills international standards.
How does your African origin influence you personally?
I am a person that loves to be creative. I let myself inspire by multiple sources, but my African roots is one of the big forces. I extract major sources of inspiration from my country of origin, Urganda, that help me to fully live out my creativity. Creating things out of an African perspective and to make this lifestyle visible to others means a lot to me. I take inspiration out of anything: Colours, textiles, plants or architecture. My surroundings stimulate me a lot and let me reflect about my African origin.
A couple of years ago, you initiated the Africa Fashion Day Berlin. What was your motive and who did you want to reach with it?
I decided to found the international platform AFDB when I realized that there is too little attention on the African fashion scene here in Germany, there hasn’t been any access to it so far. As I had the network, I decided to implement a communication platform via organising runway shows and fair occurs. The Africa Fashion Day Berlin was an opportunity for interested people to experience the diversity of African fashion in the context of the Berlin Fashion Week. Apart from that, it was important to me to give African designers in Germany a platform in order to represent their labels and to give an economic outlook.
Essential in this project was for me to give people in the African diaspora the possibility to identify with their home country here in Germany and to make visible that ‘Made in Africa’ is of quality and modern. It is about an African perspective and identities but also about making yourself aware of your origin and to maintain this part of your identity. Fashion is a good ventile to live this out.
The Africa Fashion Day Berlin was a project that operated successfully for three years and which is continued nowadays via the online project “Fashion Africa Now”. Here, several events are organised, interviews with African fashion designers are presented and the African fashion world in Germany continuously promoted.
What would you advise to a young entrepeneur who tries to step his foot in the fashion business?
Everybody who wants to succeed in fashion business needs to know that endurance and a network is demanded here. One should have a conrete plan and work continuously on it. Talent is important! And apart from that to already have an insight into the fashion industry via education, studies or work experience.
How do you evaluate the future of African influences on the fashion industry?
Enormous! In recent times, African inspiration sources had been one of the driving forces for creative arts and indutries. No matter which kind of enterprise, but evidently with a focus on the fashion indutry. For the last five years, there has been rising interest in Africa. From African designers who gain more and more presence in the international fashion focus to fashion chains like Zara, H&M or Mango who copy African patterns and prints. Furthermore, there has been an increase in cooperations of etablished enterprises with African newcomers.
In addition, a clear tendency towards having a critical look on the clothes’ production procedures in the countries of origin can be witnessed. Africa is a continent that is in terms of textile production not as damaged as Asia for example. In recent times, there has been a growing focus on this affair.
In the future, it is clear to say that there is a tendency on African fashion gaining more and more global influence, the stars are aligning. There is a lot going on!
Thank you for the interview!