Photograph — IFM Paris

Birimian, the first operational investment company dedicated to African luxury and premium heritage brands, has selected the finalists of its first call for applications (see list below). These finalists will join the acceleration program IFM-Birimian Accelerator x Africa, in partnership with Institut Français de la Mode (IFM). The designers selected will also be highlighted at the Première Classe event organized by WSN as part of Paris Fashion Week on October 1 to 4, giving the brands valuable exposure to the European fashion scene.  

Launched in June 2021, IFM-Birimian Accelerator x Africa is an innovative acceleration program for emerging African heritage brands in the fashion, accessories, and jewellery sectors. Every year for ten months, the program, funded by Birimian, intends to support ten young designers selected by a committee of experts from the international creative scene. The brands participating in the program will also receive investment and/or consulting and support services from Birimian.

The accelerator program provides essential tools to develop emerging brands:  

• defining a brand platform

• strengthening the creative process

• targeting the relevant audience  

• establishing a consistent marketing strategy

• financial management

• planning and structuring of collections

• distribution strategy

• communication policy, and more.  

This program is a unique opportunity for designers and emerging brands, both on the continent and in the diaspora, to get strategic, operational, and financial support for ten months, thus allowing them to make their activities more professional and organized. It is a program focused on training the young African creative guard and promoting creative entrepreneurship.

The talent identification process took two months and involved scouting, active engagement with brands, and selection of candidates from three segments: ready-to-wear (general public and premium) for 80% of the brands, ready-to-wear fashion (premium and luxury) and accessories for 20%. 85% of them are “made in Africa.” Their collective customer base reflects Birimian’s ambitions with a strong openness to the international market (40%) and significant potential for influence beyond the borders of the continent. 80% of them boast a revenue of over $US50,000, one of the main selection criteria.

The first group, characterized by a geographic diversity representative of the continent’s main economic hubs, illustrates the richness of the brands’ creative worlds. It includes the following finalists:

●    Christie Brown, Ghana

●    Kente Gentlemen, Ivory Coast

●    Loza Maléombho, Ivory Coast

●    mille collines, Rwanda

●    Mmuso Maxwell, South Africa

●    Post Imperial, Nigeria

●    Rich Mnisi, South Africa

●    Shekudo, Nigeria

●    This Is Us, Nigeria

●    Umòja, France – Burkina Faso

Laureen Kouassi-Olsson, CEO of Birimian, commented, “The class of designers invited to join the IFM-Birimian Accelerator x Africa program embody the new creative African guard: reinvented tradition, undeniable creative talent, Afropolitan, urban, and digitally focused on the world, proudly showcasing their heritage through collections whose originality no longer needs to be proven. However, it remains fragile, hence the need to strengthen its basics and provide them with operational, strategic, creative, and financial support. This is the entire purpose of this program, which is fully aligned with our investment strategy. The network of experts it draws on and the unique access to the ecosystem of the French and European creative scene will inevitably create value. We cannot wait to warmly welcome them to Paris alongside Institut Français de la Mode.”

“The 10 brands selected for this first intake of the IFM-Birimian Accelerator x Africa are full of creative talent and ambition for their development. The designers and entrepreneurs will work on all the components of their brand with the objective of not only boosting their reputation but also developing sustainable businesses in an international ecosystem while preserving their African heritage. The right balance will be struck by working together towards creative, inclusive and sustainable entrepreneurship”, concludes Thomas Delattre, Director of the Fashion Entrepreneurship Center at Institut Français de la Mode.

About Birimian

The first operational investment platform dedicated to African luxury and premium heritage brands, Birimian supports designers on the continent in their growth and international development over the long term. Birimian’s main objective is to accelerate the international emergence of African creators by positioning itself as their major partner in four main sectors: fashion, accessories, beauty & cosmetics, and gourmet.

Birimian is aimed at brands that carry the continent’s culture, tradition, history, and cultural heritage, magnificent in its diversity, in their DNA and identity, brands that adapt to modern and contemporary codes.

About IFM 

Institut Français de la Mode is a higher education institution, a training centre for apprentices, a provider of executive education, as well as a centre of expertise for the textiles, fashion and luxury industries. It offers 16 educational programs at vocational, Bachelor, Master, Executive MBA and doctorate levels, which prepare students for all the professions in the fashion industry in the fields of management, design and craftsmanship.   

Based in the heart of Paris on a new 9,000 m² campus, Institut Français de la Mode welcomes more than 1,000 students of some fifty nationalities – managers, designers, technicians, entrepreneurs – encouraging meetings, collaborations and cultural effervescence.

Institut Français de la Mode is a member of HESAM Université, of the Conférence des Grandes Ecoles and of the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI). It is supported by the French Ministry of Economy. It is recognized by the French Ministry of Higher Education. 

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