“The promise of Africa, the power of the Mediterranean”, this was the title given 2012’s 12th annual International Herald Tribune (IHT) Luxury Conference, held in Rome in November. The conference was billed as over 550 delegated from over 35 countries, with the speakers consisting of some of the luxury businesses most inspirational fashion designers and business leaders.
Hosted by respected fashion editor Suzy Menkes the conference line up consisted of established names in fashion such as Valentino Garavani, Jean Paul Gaultier, Donatella Versace and Vivienne Westwood.
Focus on Africa was provided by the following speakers:
- Ilaria Venturini Fendi, Designer
- Duro Olowu, Fashion Designer
- Kim Jones, Men’s Style Director, Louis Vuitton
- Hanneli Rupert, Director, Merchants on Long; Designer
- Francesco Trapani, President, LVMH Watches & Jewelry
- Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Executive Chairperson, AFI
- Renzo Rosso, Founder, Diesel; President, Only The Brave Foundation
- Guillaume de Seynes, Managing Director, Hermès International
- Joanne Crewes, President, P&G Global Prestige
- Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief, Italian Vogue
- Manolo Blahnik
- Bono and Ali Hewson, Co-Founders, EDUN.
What was refreshing was realisation that just as focus on Africa in the last few decades has been on charity and aid, going forwards emphasis must also be placed on business and investments. The continent of Africa must be looked at from perspective of a producer of luxury goods, and as consumers within the luxury goods market.
As an emerging market economy Africa is perceived to be less profitable from a luxury businesses perspective than Europe or the Middle East, it was highlighted that a large number of Africans still live on less than $2 dollars a day, however it is also a growing market, with an expanding middle class. Nigerians are listed as being amongst Selfridges top 10 overseas shoppers in the UK, with many traveling to locations such as London and Dubai to make luxury purchases, displaying the buying power of the luxurious African.