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Ditto Africa is the content-driven fashion marketplace connecting consumers top African and diasporan brands

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You can now shop some of your top African and Afro-inspired diasporan brands from anywhere in the world thanks to this fashion platform.

An online fashion marketplace, Ditto Africa stands out from the crowd with a content-driven outlook aimed at affording both global and local consumers the luxury of shopping their favourite black-owned brands a click away.

Featuring some top 50 African and African diaspora brands, Ditto Africa is the first of its kind as a centralized marketplace with consistent product photography, a single customer service access point, one shopping cart, and one shipping fee.

Speaking to Braperucci Style, Somali-American fashion designer, Ayan Mohallim explained that she started Ditto Africa after she noticed the lack of diversity and opportunity for African designers.

According to her, it was important that the platform not only represents African brands but that its investors also share that same vision and background.

‘There are dynamic and innovative fashion and design industries emerging in every major city in Africa, whose cultural and historical points of reference and artistic brilliance and sophistication have yet to be experienced by global consumers to their full expression.’ 

Read the full interview below:

What does the name Ditto represent & what is your vision for Ditto Africa? 

Ayaan Mohallim: I was inspired to start Ditto Africa after noticing a lack of visibility and opportunity in the global fashion market for African designers. There are dynamic and innovative fashion and design industries emerging in every major city in Africa, whose cultural and historical points of reference and artistic brilliance and sophistication have yet to be experienced by global consumers to their full expression.

Ditto means “same’ – Our brands are the same level as brands anywhere else in the world. We don’t need any special favors and we no longer need platforms like Moda, Matches, Netaporter or Farfetch. We’ve created a platform that has consistent product photography, a single customer service access point, one shopping cart, and one shipping fee. Through this model, we eliminate African designers’ dependence on above mentioned platforms. 

It was also important to me that the platform not only represents African brands but that its investors also share that same vision and background. Currently, Ditto Africa is 100% African/black-owned. Ditto Africa raised capital by focusing on creating an API enabled technology stack platform and focusing on being a tech company first, a retailer second.

How can global consumers become more aware of African brands?

AM: African fashion brands exist in huge numbers (we have 50+ on our platform and this is growing every month), but awareness on a global scale has been challenging, due to a lack of equity (share of the airtime Arfican brands get in the media) and lack of access, since African brands don’t have a global retail presence due to small scale local production, rather than global distribution.  Ditto Africa exists to solve these problems in two ways.  Firstly by demonstrating the creativing, desirability and accessibility of African brands via stunning and directional content–our latest digital fashion interpretation of new season collections is an example of this.  Secondly, via our eCommerce market place that delivers African brands to the world.  Central to global consumers becoming more aware of African brands is communicating the culture and ‘language’ of African fashion, which I am well positioned to do because of my deep understanding of the craft, technical expertise and context of the new guard of contemporary brands emerging from the fashion scene in Nigeria and beyond. 

How can you as a black women-owned global eCommerce platform change the narrative of what African fashion is? 

AM: The African fashion narrative is limited by the storytellers through which that narrative is told, meaning that only when the fashion industry and mainstream media understands and conveys the story of African Fashion, told by the brands, industry leaders and platforms like Ditto Africa, will the narrative ring true.  We are working with African stylists and tastemakers, whose works permeate the mainstream and ensure the narrative of African Fashion is told authentically on a global stage.  As an eCommerce entrepreneur, my role is to facilitate the delivery of this narrative, which I am a part of defining, along with my Ditto Africa brand partners and creative partners, to the world. 

The fashion retail industry was significantly affected due to COVID-19, what can African brands do to keep up the momentum? 

AM: Due to the challenges posed by Covid-19, we have implemented digital sampling to support African brands to produce samples and production only when required, and we are reducing their overheads by eliminating shipping of physical samples by doing this.  Many African brands on our platform work with local suppliers and workforces, so they have control and visibility over their design and production and can respond quickly to what the global market demands.  This gives them an edge over larger competitors who have slow design and production processes across several countries and continents.  Saying this, African brands need to build capacity for production too, so we are working with industry in Nigeria, for example, on initiatives that will escalate digitalisation of design and manufacturing to sustainably and efficiently meet the growing demand African brands are seeing from global fashion consumers.  We also see Ditto Africa as integral to nurturing emerging African designers and brands and arming them with the digital tools they need to build successful and sustainable global brands.

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