New retail data has uncovered a significant lack of brand and cultural diversity in UK wardrobes, despite the popularity of social justice campaigns such as Black Lives Matter or ‘Shop Local’
Data released by African Fashion Brand, Sika’a has highlighted the astonishing lack of diversity in British wardrobes. Measuring the proportions of people who shopped via Independent, non-western and BAME fashion retailers, the data has uncovered a staggering lack of awareness and representation of minority or non-western culture brands in the UK retail space.
A representative study of 1,000 UK adults revealed that over half (62%) had absolutely no knowledge of where their clothing came from. When asked about their shopping habits, 70% of respondents admitted to buying all or most of their clothes from mainstream UK retailers, with just under a quarter supporting independent retailers when shopping for fashion (23%).
Despite the efforts and news coverage of recent cultural movements such as Black Lives Matter and Shop Local, only 23% of those surveyed owned clothing from independent fashion retailers and just 25% from BAME fashion brands. Diving deeper into the possible explanations behind these statistics, a staggering 43% of Brits were completely unaware of any non-western or BAME fashion retailers. Another reason for the lack of non-western or BAME brands in UK wardrobes was a fear of being accused of cultural appropriation. Both explanations could be attributed to an under-representation of minority fashion brands as just under a third of respondents (29%) claimed to not see any BAME/non-western brands where they shopped.
When offered the opportunity, the majority of respondents claimed to want to diversify their wardrobes by adding independent and non-western fashion retailers (8%) but a disappointing 2% actually consider diversity when shopping for new clothes.
Purchaser considerations also revealed a distinct lack of empathy with highly publicised cultural issues such as sustainability and brand/manufacturing ethics, with consumers seemingly influenced by low price, fast fashion trends. Despite recent headlines around the waste produced by the fast fashion industry, only 22% of respondents claimed to think about the sustainability implications of their purchases. Similarly, despite recent wage-scandals involving popular mainstream fashion retailers, a surprisingly low number of Brits (10%) admitted to taking brand and manufacturing ethics into consideration before hitting the checkout button.
Reflecting on the data, Sika’a founder John Tchoudi said;
“As an independent, proud African fashion retailer we’re obviously dis-heartened by the insights from this study. However, this lack of cultural diversity in wardrobes is unsurprising given the clear underrepresentation of ‘alternative’ fashion retailers – with large, ‘mainstream’ fashion companies holding court in our high streets and online retail space.
In addition to wider representation and subsequently awareness of non-western brands there is a clear need to address the taboos around alternative fashion cultures. Sika’a as a brand encourages all women to wear our clothes and feel beautiful doing so. Respecting a culture and its fashion should be encouraged, as should supporting small businesses. Ultimately, diversity should be of the upmost importance in the retail and fashion industry and allows individuals to express themselves through mediums such as colour, style, print and fabric. Wearing non-western fashion, when done with respect and acknowledgement of heritage rather than appropriating techniques, design, or prints is a powerful, influential move and should be encouraged.”
Sika’a is a global African fashion brand for women who are proud to be different. Inspired by the qualities of African Queens – confidence, elegance, kindness and strength. The brand’s collections take the beauty of this rich culture and translate it into wearable pieces for today’s woman.
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