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Precious Moloi-Motsepe, champion of African fashion

Founder fifteen years ago of Fashion Weeks in Johannesburg and Cape Town, bringing together designers from all over Africa, her mission is beginning to bear fruit, she assures AFP with a confident smile, in a brand new luxury boutique in an affluent district of the South African economic capital.

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Precious Moloi-Motsepe, champion of African fashion

Founder fifteen years ago of Fashion Weeks in Johannesburg and Cape Town, bringing together designers from all over Africa, her mission is beginning to bear fruit, she assures AFP with a confident smile, in a brand new luxury boutique in an affluent district of the South African economic capital.

"Today more than ever, African designers are recognized at home", underlines this sophisticated 58-year-old woman with elaborate makeup, flowing black pants and a silk blouse.

"During major events on the continent, musical prizes or major football meetings, the stars wear local designers, who have become household names", underlines the wife of the president of the African Football Confederation Patrice Motsepe, with whom she form South Africa's most prominent power couple, ranked ninth on the Forbes list of the continent's richest.

Elsewhere, "celebrities like Michelle Obama or Beyoncé are now wearing African brands", she argues, and the Wakanda phenomenon, linked to the film Black Panther "has made it possible to make our culture known to the whole world, which has an impact on fashion and the identification of consumers with African brands".

Precious Moloi-Motsepe grew up in Soweto, a poor township and hotbed of resistance to the hated apartheid regime, where she learned a sense of style. "My grandmother made her own clothes, she was terribly elegant. And in the neighborhood, people loved to dress up", closely following American trends and brands.

Later, when she had the opportunity to travel, she attended a fashion show by gifted fashion designer John Galliano in Paris. A shock. She then realizes "that creators are inspired by history, heritage, culture and that we, in Africa, are rich in all that".

“We seemed to be a source of inspiration” for Western designers, “but I didn't see many African designers on the catwalks,” she recalls.

- "Strengthening our voice" -

Hence the need to create a space to "propel the best African creators to world fame", a project to which this former doctor, who has become a patron and philanthropist, has tackled with enthusiasm.

"I had to first make sure they were recognized here at home and change mindsets, that people appreciate African designers, not just our traditional tailors" but value-added creatives. Ambitious bet, not yet won but well underway.

African consumers are “increasingly recognizing that their own creators are as valuable as foreign” brands, Precious wants to believe.

The Fashion Weeks launched in South Africa, with top models such as the South Sudanese Alek Wek and prestigious guests from New York, Milan or Paris, have for more than a decade enabled designers to "show their work, exchange with colleagues, establish contacts and expose themselves to the media".

The next step is to take them "to international platforms, to guarantee an African presence there", she said, adding that African diasporas often serve as ambassadors.

The entrepreneur remembers having exhibited a handful of African designers in Paris, on the sidelines of fashion shows, a few years ago: "We received positive opinions there, others much less," she laughs, " but it was a first step.

"We must strengthen our voice" and have our talents recognized beyond Africa, pleads Precious Moloi-Mostsepe.

Obviously, Africans remain poorly represented among the major international brands. And in many parts of Africa, wearing foreign brands remains a marker of social success, she agrees. "There's still much to do". Not enough to discourage the passionaria of African fashion.

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