The Fashion Incubator Middle East is taking it upon itself to offer entrepreneurial and sartorial advice to startups in the textile and clothing industry in Egypt.
There is a high rate of failure when one ventures into the unknown that is the startup scene. In the garment industry, this is more pronounced because of the very nature of the business – it is labor intensive and highly competitive.
There have been some standouts, though. Fashion startup Okhtein has gone global and Cottonball is soon going regional. Despite their success, however, these two have had to elbow it out with some traditional names in the industry in order to make any sort of mark.
Nohir Saleh of The Fashion Incubator (TFI) has decided to house various fashion startups in her incubator. Here, the entrepreneurs can focus on their craft and also pick up some business sense to ensure the longevity of their stylish venture when they finally depart the nest.
For many people, fashion is an artistic thing. The designer harnesses their creative juice to come up with fashionable garments. However, it also requires one to have a great mind for business in order to be successful.
But among all those brilliant minds, few ever have the business skills to equip them for a life in the cutthroat world that is the fashion industry. It’s no surprise, therefore, that many of the startups wither and crumble like silk when the heat turns up.
“Many fashion designers don’t know from where to start; there’s a pain-point in this industry where entrepreneurs are torn between the artistic, creative part, and the business and strategy part, and on top of all of this, some vendors take advantage of the entrepreneurs’ inexperience and attempt to rip them off,” says Nohir Saleh.
However, with the advent of technology – eons ahead of the weaving loom – various tech-based fashion startups are still daring to raise their head in Cairo and across Egypt.
And this shouldn’t be surprising given that the global garment industry is worth $3 trillion. Egypt is uniquely positioned to take a slice out of this pie because of its significant cotton production and export numbers. Couple this with the technology and passion of the entrepreneurs and you have a sector ready to take off.
According to Startup Scene ME, Mohamed Maher, vice-chairman and CEO of local investment bank Prime Holding said, “Any labor-intensive industries, including textile production, which used to be a dying industry, now have a good chance with improved labor costs and technologies to help to start a new era of production, both for the big local market and exports.”
So despite the odds being stacked against them, many fashion entrepreneurs in Egypt are still willing to bootstrap and go through with founding their startups in the fashion industry.
As the first incubator tailored to suit the needs of fashion entrepreneurs, The Fashion Incubator is making a difference.
Whereas other incubators take on startups on a cyclical schedule, it admits and incubates startups individually. In this way, the Incubator would be more focused on each startup’s fashion line with little to no distractions.
A startup meets with the TFI team and describes their brand and designs. TFI’s purchasing team takes over, bringing fabric samples to the entrepreneur before acquiring the amount needed. Marketing then takes over, formulating strategy and opening up its network to the startup.
African fashion has been in the spotlight of late. Renowned high fashion house Dior recently held a successful albeit controversial show of its 2020 line which primarily features African wax print designs.
Further west in Africa, in late 2018 Nigerian fashion startup Fashpa, took part in the Dream Assembly accelerator in Lisbon, Portugal where $35,000 was up for grabs alongside mentoring and training.
With the success of incubators like Dream Assembly, The Fashion Incubator ME just might have a number of successful African fashion startups under its wing.