Sunday, April 22, 2012


It’s that time of the month again where I go exploiting brands. This time my focus is on a well known brand from the industry that has steadily been building up a fan base and a reputation across the fashionable taste buds around the globe.

So join me while I take a look!

Brand Bio:
SIKA was born in 2006 from a true passion for fashion. The label operates from London and Ghana, with 12 people working in Ghana and 3 employed in the UK.  The brand takes pride in its ethical status by ensuring that they keep sourcing all their materials and fabrics from local traders and stockists as well as produce their products in Ghana, thus encouraging local trade and employment. Recently, the brand was awarded the Ethical fashion forum innovation project award.

Founder Bio:
Phyllis Taylor, the 33 year old creative director behind the brand was born in the UK to Ghanaian parents. From a young age, Phyllis loved the colourful prints of West African clothing; especially from her native Ghana, and dreamed of seeing them used not only in traditional dresses but also in garments that her peers would wear.

She studied music and performing arts before taking courses in dressmaking and pattern-cutting at the London College of Fashion. A trip to Ghana ensued and the rest as they say is history!

Brand Personality:
International chic with a modern African twist on the 50's/60's era.

Brand Target:
The woman who wears SIKA can be evaluated as an elegant, confident, internationally curious woman with an eclectic wardrobe who understands fashion, loves to be stylish yet on her own terms and does not necessarily follow the trends.

Brand Image:
Excellent workmanship
Modern (designs)

How does SIKA add Value?
Within 5 years, SIKA has managed to amass a following that is not just centrally African but typically mainstream.

The brand does not do fashion events (Arise Fashion Week in Jo’burg in 2009 may be their only fashion show to date) yet are still associated with all the chic and glamour and internationally renowned press houses such as Vogue (Italia, Japan, USA online), The Guardian, Marie Claire, The Sunday Times, Washington Post, New York Metro etc, have all come calling for a feature.

The brand’s main flagship store has always been located around the leafy yet yuppie and wealthy, family orientated area of Greenwich, South East London. The brand started out with a market location but has now moved into a luxuriously decorated “Pandora’s box” on the main high street as below images shows. The look is simple yet chic, clutter free, with a subtle fusion of the old era and the new; reminiscing on their 50’s/60’s inspired dresses.

Differentiation Strategy:
How is SIKA using its brand’s image to differentiate itself from its competitors?
In the African fashion market, the perceived uniqueness that exists within mainstream; that is allowing one label to differ itself from another, is a huge negative in our brand’s favour.

However, to combat this issue and ensure brands visibility to their target market/public; a few brands within the industry such as Christie Brown, Ituen Basi, Eki Orleans, JBL, Mina Evans etc have taken to creating their own fabric thus injecting their own stamps/footprint on the minds of their target clients.

SIKA is no exception! The brand does not yet produce its own fabric however still ensures that the fabric they use for their products are unique and specific to their brand.

The brand’s reminiscing 50’s/60’s cut and wrap dresses as well as their collection campaigns/images also ensures differentiation, fuelling popularity and giving them a different focus and appeal from the rest in the industry.

SIKA’s Marketing Techniques.
SIKA employs little or no marketing strategy despite the success of the brand thus far. They use social mediums such as Twitter and Facebook but are on the lower scale in terms of usage.

They also use blogs and online sites that attract fashion enthusiasts especially from the African community. Most of their press mentions have come from the brand’s own reputation coupled with their excellent workmanship, product quality and great reviews.

What other means of advertising and promotion could they employ?
The lack of branded adverts and product placements is another seemingly unemployed means of promotion that most African fashion brands don’t use. Whilst some brands are making the effort to look for alternative ways to reach their target markets and expose themselves, most are still doing nothing and/or are relying heavily on word of mouth or only social networking sites. The latter mediums are great for introducing a brand but do nothing to maintain the profile of a brand and its branding reputation especially in the minds of the target audience.

Some suggestions which could be suitable for SIKA’s image are as per below.

  • Product placements – when a product or brand is embedded in entertainment and media. What SIKA could do here is target some leading personalities such as Solange Knowles or even Rihanna through their stylists for maximum exposure. Nollywood actress Genevieve Nnaiji or even Menaye Donkor who are slowly building up a reputable brand of their own. With the rise of the number of reputable films within the African industry and television series in America and the UK, the brand could plug their SIKA home furnishings here thus gaining them maximum visibility. Providing dresses in a series such as “Mad Men” for example could proof lucrative for the brand.
  • Billboard & Mobile Board advertising – many mainstream brands are using these to ensure maximum outreach. This means of advertising is no stranger to the brand. They recently used a billboard facility in the heart of Accra to advertise their Bow boutique. The brand could also use this to plug their new collections/range or an advertising message/campaign to stay relevant in the minds of their target audience.
  • Celebrity branding – this type of advertising focuses upon using celebrity power, fame and popularity to gain recognition for their products. The brand specifically pays the celebrity to be seen in their product. In this case, the right celebrity has to be vetted to ensure that they are in keeping with the primary focus of the brand.
By increasing their advertising and promotion mediums/concepts as well as their network of contacts, SIKA should reap the benefits and totally differentiate itself from its competitors however funding/financial investment within the African fashion brands remains one of the biggest obstacles. Nonetheless, SIKA seems like a brand that is not looking to build up hype around their brand, they seem content with slow and steady success.

SIKA’s Distribution Channels
The brand is very much in control of where they are stocked. All resellers are vetted to ensure they meet the standards of the brand’s reputation.

The brand currently does not wholesale especially to online sites as they want to ensure that they are the only ones selling their products online.

However, the brand is currently sold in Ghana through their Bow Boutique in Accra. In boutiques in New York, Australia, Tokyo etc

They also hope to be stocked around Africa.

Product Expansion:
Little Miss Sika; beautiful signature dresses for the little darlings at a pop of about £50 a piece.
Sika Signature Home; beautifully marrying handpicked prints with raw silks, satins and French organza to create a contemporary collection of print inspired interior furnishings
Sika Bridal Service; ready to wear bridal dresses are designed to complement all wedding occasions from civil unions to traditional church weddings.

Some images from SIKA collections below.

In conclusion, SIKA is a brand that is very much aware of its destination. Their branding is very much on point coupled with their excellent product quality and their pricing strategy. The one area which the brand could do with stepping up is their communication outreach with their audience. Whilst building up a reputable brand it is also essential to remain available to your clients. Nevertheless, many other brands within the African fashion industry could do with using SIKA as a case study on how to build a solid brand reputation.

So that's it!
Email me at: for any query or brand information you want to send my way.
Alternatively, catch me and my rants on Twitter: @Brownschuga

Stay Fash!

(Thanks to BBC, Vogue Italia,, Catch a Vibe)

Friday, April 6, 2012


Hello my fashionable readers! I hope you are having a fab Easter so far. I decided to take this free time to also update my blog with another analysis for your reading pleasure. Please do not hesitate to contact me below should you have a question or require some advise.

As the fashion industry in Africa is fast developing so is the need for factories and manufacturers who can enable and facilitate the supply chain. It’s not just African brands who are seeing the potential of this growth but outside brands are taking note and are venturing into tapping into the new African production system.

One such brand is EDUN and although it has not been plain sailing for them thus far (they have had their share of bad press and losing stockists due to the recession and to quality control), the brand still aims to increase its overall production in Africa to 40% by 2013.

So join me while I take a look at what they are doing.      

Brand Bio: 
EDUN was launched in Spring 2005 as a for-profit contemporary fashion brand founded on the premise of trade vs aid; a means of building sustainable communities. The company works on a micro-level to help build the skill sets of the people involved in making clothing. In addition, EDUN also continues to explore partnership opportunities at a macro level to improve working conditions and build sustainable communities where it produces. 

EDUN ultimately aims to use its voice to encourage other brands in the fashion community to do business in Africa. According to their statistics, in 1980 Africa had a 6% share of world trade but by 2002 the continent witnessed this drop to just 2% despite accounting for 12% of the world's population.

Founder Bio:
EDUN was founded by Ali Hewson and her rocker husband, U2 singer, Bono along with New York clothing designer Rogan Gregory who has since left and has been replaced by Sharon Wauchob an ex Central Saint Martins trained Irish designer who worked for Louis Vuitton before heading her eponymous line of handcrafted demi-couture pieces based in Paris. Sharon joins the team to add “ease and coolness” to the brand.

Brand Personality:
I struggled to find a clear brand personality from EDUN as there were too many mixed messages being sent out. The brand needs to focus on having a clear consistent message that runs through their work, their advertising/marketing communications to ensure that their overall personality is easily picked up on.

Brand Target:
According to Vicki Reed, the brand’s target market is 25 to 35 year olds. They describe the ideal customer as being; someone who cares about the world and who considers themselves to be somewhat of a global citizen. While they are socially responsible, they’re not an activist consumed by a cause. They like fashion but aren’t necessarily a label wearer. They have careers but aren’t all work and no play. They are about life experience.

Brand Image:
Fair Trade
Socially conscious

How does EDUN add Value?
EDUN greatly benefits from the network of contacts that Bono and Ali have amassed over the years in their careers. Bono has relationships at government level  and the couple are well versed in the elite of the elite of the celebrity kingdom. The brand’s past ONE t-shirt campaign shot by supermodel Helena Christensen was endorsed by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck, Julianne Moore, Raquel Welch, Laila Ali, Josh Hashnett, Liv Tyler, Sean Penn etc.

In May 2009 luxury conglomerate LVMH bought a 49% stake in the company enabling the brand to become part of the luxury group, giving them access to an elite crowd of wealthy individuals and enabling them to position themselves as a fashion label that is conscious and exclusive.

“Being part of LVMH gives us access to a kind of brotherhood of people. As a small company, the partnership allows us to share resources in a way that we wouldn’t otherwise have the ability to” states Vicki Reed.

Taking part in New York Fashion Week also enables the brand to be seen as reputable and in with the fashion crowd.

EDUN’S Competitive Advantage:
How do brands have a competitive edge over their competition? By perceiving and/or discovering new and better ways to compete in a cosmopolitan industry where competition is fierce.

Fashion brands heavily rely on using their image to differentiate themselves from their competition. In EDUN’s case, the brand is at present able to create some differentiation by heavily relying on Bono and his wife’s image and status. As they slowly develop and re-brand – focusing on the fashion, the product, the clothes, and the company rather than on the company’s mission as Ali Hewson points out, EDUN’s differentiation should become clearer.

Celebrity Endorsement:
The brand is already a big hit with music, Hollywood celebrities and supermodels including Helena Christensen, Naomi Campbell, Kerry Washington etc

EDUN’s Marketing Techniques:
The brand is very much aware of the available tools to market themselves. They grabbed the opportunity of New York and London Fashion Weeks to do some outdoor marketing promoting their new ad campaign as well as collaborating with Jefferson Hack, founder of Dazed and Confused on some digital ideas. The brand is very keen on people finding their messages in places they might not expect.

Direct marketing:
The brand intends on piecing together the company with greater clarity around the brand image and identity, and confidence in their manufacturing and practices in Africa through the support of advertising and communications from this Spring.

On the digital side, they have an active community on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter followed by fans and people who are passionate about causes and organic clothing, as well as pure fashion fans. One thing the brand is aware they have to do is to refine and develop their social media voice.

Print marketing:
The brand has just launched their first ad campaign shot by Ryan McGinley featuring six species of butterflies that are all indigenous to Africa. “We really wanted to capture the essence of EDUN, and of what inspires the brand, which is duality and transformation” Ali Hewson stated. She added that it was time to tell EDUN’s story through a campaign, and to build on the momentum of the brand, which is posting double-digit growth each season.

The campaign will be featured in the March issues of titles including Italian, French and U.S. Vogue, Vanity Fair, Dazed & Confused, AnOther, The New York Times Magazine, and the Sunday Times in London.
Short “blink videos” will appear on and via social media outlets. 

EDUN’s Distribution Channels:
EDUN is not short of retailers despite losing a few over the years. The brand is currently stocked in Selfridges and Liberty in London. They also love the idea of pop up stores and Vicki Reed stated “we’ll be bringing the brand identity and campaign to the store level by opening more pop-up stores in London, France and the US with the forward notion of opening our own store. We would like to grow within our retail partners and we would like to open a standalone store”.

Edun’s chief executive officer, Janice Sullivan also stated that the brand is also expanding internationally with LVMH negotiating a distribution agreement with Itochu in Japan. They opened a pop-up shop in Harvey Nichols last month and are planning a similar venture at Le Bon Marché in Paris at the end of March. From Spring, the brand will be available at Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus in the US.

It has not all been celebrations all round for this brand. In 2010, the collection was carried at just 67 stores globally, down from hundreds in 2006.

However, the brand is gaining momentum from the funds injected by and the association with LVMH. The brand marketing ensures an enlargement of their client base and outreach enabling consumers that are socially and fair trade conscious to have access to them.

Product Expansion:
In 2006 EDUN launched EDUN LIVE, a line of blank t-shirts created for merchandising purposes.
Edun LIVE’s aim is to help foster trade and increase long-term sustainable employment in Africa via high-volume sales of blank t-shirts to the wholesale market.

From the fields where the cotton is picked, to the spinning, knitting, and finally the garment making, all EDUN LIVE products are 100% African, from "grower to sewer” and has a presence in the sub-Saharan nations of Lesotho, Uganda, Madagascar and Kenya.

EDUN LIVE aims to put forth a business model that demonstrates that one can do business - and do it very well - with developing countries like those in sub-Saharan Africa. It is their hope that others will replicate the EDUN LIVE business model and grow the trade and employment opportunities available in these regions. 

As EDUN LIVE matures, it aims to grow its social commitment to these areas and local factory communities. With business from its customers, EDUN LIVE will continue to work with farmers and factories to improve conditions in some of the poorest districts of Africa's poorest countries.

In conclusion, it’ll be interesting to see in a few years how EDUN as a brand develops. As they fully concentrate on piecing together the brand and making it coherent, consistent and clear, they should come out on the other side stronger and better.

Some selected images of EDUN pieces.

So until the next post!
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Stay fashionable!