Wealthy Africans love to mix Western luxury brands with African brands, but are still underserved by online retailers – and not fully understood by them.
Enter Jendaya, a new ecommerce player who hopes to meet their needs and alleviate some of the problems associated with distance shopping while shining a light on the vast number of fashion talent on the continent.
“It’s a platform for discovery,” said Ayotunde Rufai, CEO of London-based Jendaya, which is set to kick off with an invitation-only pilot phase on July 1 after spending more than a year building a community. and educate the public about the content. alone.
Previously an investment banker, Rufai and his co-founders Kemi Adetu and Teni Sagoe spied on an opportunity to better serve fashion-hungry and well-heeled Africans. According to data from Euromonitor International, the luxury goods market in Africa and the Middle East was valued at $ 35.48 billion in 2019, with designer clothes and footwear alone generating $ 7.2 billion in the world. detail.
Rufai describes Jendaya as a jumble of other benchmark e-merchants – mimicking editorial content developed by Net-a-porter; adopt Farfetch’s market model to avoid holding inventory and integrate the personalized styling service synonymous with Threadstyling.
While several online retailers already offer fashionable clothing in mainland Africa, brand awareness is low and delivery times can be long, according to Rufai, who touted Jendaya’s retention of brands as a point of differentiation.
The site also wants to attract and serve buyers outside of Africa, who are included in the pilot project.
He plans to launch with around 45 luxury brands, with many more in the pipeline. Western names include Givenchy, Prada, JW Anderson, Marine Serre, Casablanca, Thom Browne and Balenciaga, while the dozen African brands include Torlowei, Imad Eduso, Abiola Olusola, Rich Mnisi and AAKS, according to Rufai. The site plans to focus on men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, as well as a handful of beauty products.
Rufai said having well-known Western brands has helped Jendaya attract prestigious African designers. “It means the parity is there,” he said. “People want to see a mix.”
He mentioned Nigerian designer Lisa Folawiyo, who has 117,000 Instagram followers, as an influential fashion figure beloved for the way she mixes European and African brands – and for dressing the likes of Lupita Nyong’o and Solange Knowles in his signature brand. Mnisi is no slouch either, with looks from Marine Serre, Adidas, Levi’s and Thebe Magugu on her popular Instagram account.
For deliveries, Jendaya is partnering with DHL, which has invested around $ 50 million in logistics on the African continent, according to Rufai, recognizing the need to seek other worthy logistics partners as Jendaya upgrades and expands. its operations.
While most luxury players focus on the buoyant Chinese market, which rebounded quickly from the coronavirus pandemic, Africa has more than 300,000 wealthy people and enjoys the second highest compound annual growth rate of purchases of luxury after the Middle East, according to Rufai, who benchmarked Bloomberg data.
Before launching the start-up, Rufai and its co-founders surveyed hundreds of African luxury consumers, finding that some spent an average of between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000 on luxury brands each quarter. Favorite Western brands include Jacquemus, Fendi and Off-White, he noted, also citing the popularity of buying shipments to fashion capitals like London before the pandemic.
Jendaya’s revenue forecast is modest. Rufai projects an average basket of 400 pounds, a fraction of that of more established luxury e-merchants, with its initial pilot group of around 500 buyers.
Exclusive capsule lines and collaborations are part of the future image, with a September link in the works with Fashionkind, a website that features designer and sustainable luxury goods.
For his personal stylists, Jendaya has recruited tech company Luxlock for the plug-in, although Jendaya’s fashion director has recruited and trained his top 10, who will earn commissions on sales.
Rufai noted that high-profile brands such as Dior are not sold on the site, but Jendaya’s personal stylists can help shoppers source Dior products through a cooperation agreement with the French brand’s store in London.
“We partner with boutiques and brands around the world,” he said, noting that Jendaya takes a smaller commission on African brands, which operate with smaller margins and often only produce to order. .
Jendaya is initially funded by private investors, including ‘Game of Thrones’ actress Maisie Williams, and hopes to secure £ 1.5million in seed funding during the pilot phase.
Along with its e-commerce, Jendaya plans to integrate African brands and institutions on the Tribu by LAFS social network platform and, ultimately, “transform African brands’ sales metrics into data points that qualify them. for business-friendly loans, ”noted Rufai.
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