Tuesday, July 17, 2012


The African fashion industry is at present enjoying a renaissance with all the brands involved vying for the attention and interest from the fashionable public. With some finding their niche, others are still experimenting to see what works best.

Join me today while I take a look at Chichia London and bring you my usual dose of fashion analysis.

With the knowledge she acquired in her diverse work experience within the fashion industry, Tanzanian-born Christine Mhando launched the label that bears her childhood nickname, Chichia (London) in 2007.

The Chichia London ready to wear range is an amalgamation of both continents and cultures from which the designer was raised. The label’s signature transpires from the artful application of the “Khanga”, a traditional East African cotton printed fabric used by local women as wraps.

Each Chichia London collection consists of an eclectic range of dresses and separates in modern wearable silhouettes and styles in a variety of succulent colours. Chichia London’s intelligent use of eye-catching colourful prints in natural fabrics intermixed with beautiful embellishments and intricate detailing makes every piece uniquely innovative and a timeless addition to anyone’s wardrobe.

The brand has also won the Ethical Fashion Forum Innovation Pure Award last year.

London-based designer Christine Mhando graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with an honours degree, in 2002. After her studies, Mhando gained invaluable experience working for high-end designers as well as womenswear brands and suppliers for the high-street mecca. 

A unique translation of the traditional spiced up with a contemporary stylish approach. 

The Chichia London client is a cosmopolitan woman who embraces cultures, has an open mind and is able to be experimental in her fashion outlook. She travels, knows what she wants and is confident and driven but also full of youthful exuberance.

  • Traditional
  • Contemporary
  • Youthful
  • Ethical 

Chichia London is fast developing its branding image as a unique fashion brand that is connecting the world to the “Khanga” traditional fabric of East Africa.

The brand is also building its visibility by having press features on reputable mainstream platforms such as Marie Claire, Grazia and Cosmopolitan magazine. Features on fashion forward reputable African online sites such as One Nigerian Boy, Haute Fashion Africa, Bella Naija, Clutch Mag Online, Fashion Bomb Daily, Fashion Junkii and Shadders. Participating in events such as Untold and Fashion Diversity fashion events, exhibiting at Pure London, Swahili Fashion Week in 2009 and 2010 as well as Arise Magazine Fashion Week in Lagos in 2011 & 2012 increases their visibility and achievement portfolio.

A brand’s relative position within an industry is given by its choice of competitive advantage (cost leadership vs. differentiation) and its choice of competitive scope. Competitive scope distinguishes between brands targeting broad industry segments and those focusing on a narrow segment.

In the fashion industry, brands rely heavily on using their image to differentiate themselves from their competition.

How is Chichia London achieving this? By focusing their brand’s image on a traditional fabric which is not as popular as the West African Ankara, the brand creates playful silhouettes in dresses and separates, enabling the brand to be easily identifiable.

Advertising can be defined as a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products or services with the desired result to drive consumer behaviour.

Various traditional media include mass media such as newspaper, magazines, television, radio, outdoor advertising (bill boards) and direct marketing. New media refers to online and text messages.

Chichia London mostly employs the new media; they have several features online, they use Facebook as well as Twitter to communicate to their audience albeit not intensively.

Whilst this is not wrong, this only is not enough to sustain a fashion business in the long run. What the majority of brands within the industry have failed to realise is the importance of a marketing and PR plan for their businesses which outlines how to achieve a greater visibility for their business. Most brands thrust themselves out there without a clear thought as to how they are going to enable growth within the business.

It is understandable that the African fashion industry lacks investors at present to pump money into the industry because it’s considered to be in the infant stages, however, an investor can only come in when they see that a business opportunity is viable and profitable and to ensure this, the ground up cost has to be borne initially by the business owner.

Going forward, the brand needs to work on their advertising/promotion method to ensure they grow. For a business that has been going for nearly 5 years, I believe they should be further along the line than where they are at the moment.

The brand needs more visibility, by getting celebrity clients/endorsements, brand placements in films, reputable music videos etc

The brand is currently sold in online sites such as Not Just a Label, My Asho, African Pulse, Agnes & Lola and the Made in Africa shop in Dar es Salaam.

The importance of a functional website to any business is paramount. It serves as a first point of contact between your brand and potential customers. It advises (about brand), connects (contacts), displays (products – collections) and informs (events/press/blog).

At present, the brand’s website is not functional. The landing page should be more inviting and should grasp the public. There should be higher end/playful imagery that sells what the brand is offering. In an industry where many brands are cropping up all the time, the competition is fierce and one would expect more from this brand given their experience. They are no longer “new” in the market and therefore need to update their status and their branding to reflect their product quality and their pricing which goes up to £160 for a maxi dress and £55 for mere sandals.


Made for Africa
Chichia for “Made by Africa” SS12 collaboration collection is a range of ethically produced high quality garments using a combination of cotton blends and locally sourced organic cotton jerseys with African printed cloth that brings new life to the perception of everyday basics. In aid of Made by Africa’s concept of supporting local projects, 1 US Dollar of the wholesale value of every garment sold went towards assisting in educating children at the SOS Children’s Village in Tanzania.

The brand also makes sandals, scarves as well as soft furnishing accessories such as chair covers and cushions.

Check out some images from the 2009/2010 lookbooks

All images courtesy of Chichia London.
For all information, www.chichialondon.com

Until the next post,
Stay Fashionable


No comments: