Transformation: The Alternative uses of West AfricanFabric (Aso Oke) in the West (Draft copy)

Title: TransformationThe Alternative uses of West African Fabric
(Aso Oke) in the West

                                             SI Adenaike
                              Project submitted in part fulfillment of the degree of
                                    Master in Design Studies












                   Central St Martin College of Art and Design 1997

Table of Contents

Chapter1

a) The introduction

b) How the fabrics are made and what the fabric are used for

c) The Transformation of Silk

Chapter2

The design

a) The design criteria

b) The Design Process

c) The Design briefs

d) Design proposal

Chapter 3

The design selection

Chapter 4

 Analysis

a) Data Collection

b) Primary research results

c) The Secondary Research

Chapter 5

 Marketing Plan

a) The Industry

b) The market: Price, Promotion, Place, Product,

Chapter 6             

a) Conclusion       

Appendix

a) Bibliography

d) Dissertation Proposal

c) Questionnaire

d) Market Research

List of Tables           Page

Table 4.1 Summary of responses to questionnaires

Table 5.1 Sizes of UK Household textile firms

Table 5.2 Markets size for soft furnishing in the UK

Table 5.3Demographic details of purchasers of ‘soft’ housewares, July 1996

Table 5.4 Market segmentation of soft furnishing

List of Figures          Page

Fig 2.1The Design Process

Fig3.1Design solution shapes and styles

Fig 5.1Purchasing of ‘soft’ furnishings in the last 12 months, July 1996

Chapter 1

  1. Introduction

This dissertation is focuses on the alternative uses of Textiles (fabric) from Africa in Europe starting with Britain. The west (western Europe) has a tradition for making use of fabric such as cotton from Egypt and silk from china transforming them into other uses outside of its originally intended purpose successfully. The dissertation looks at this transformation process and asks whether this can be done successfully with this textile and how this can be done.

The method chosen to accomplish this is from a design project management perspective which set out to answer the following problems:

  1. What products can be made from this textile? This will include writing a possible design brief
  2. If these products were to be marketed what would be the best way of doing this? This might involve writing a possible market plan
  3.  What are the possible outcomes of this approach? What might be the consequences in terms of impact on the original uses of this textiles in its local environments?
  4.  Would the transformation encourage the increased production of these fabrics as they suffer competition from other fabrics?
  5. To what extent can this and similar approaches influence the appreciations of the textile not only for the artifacts made from them but also the process of making these fabrics.

The Dissertation follow a simplistic outline:

  •  Problem definition (Chapter1)
  •  Solution (Chapter 2-4)
  •  Evaluation (Chapter 5)
  • Conclusion and Recommendation (Chapter 6)

b) How the textiles are made and what the textiles are used for.

Woven textile in West Africa is of great antiquity and this is proven by the number of textiles that have been found by archaeological research in Ghana, Nigeria and along the west coast in the period c. 700 to c. 1050 ad although the makers and method of production of this fabric are unknown. It’s known that the raffia weaving vertical loom existed in western Africa from Cameroon south ward to Angola prior to Portuguese contacts in the fifteenth century and was established in Benin and regions of the Niger Delta

 (Venice lamb & Judy Nigerian Weaving 1980 Alphabet and image weaving).

This dissertation is focusing on the Aso Oke Fabric from the western part of Nigeria on the west coast of Africa. But it is hoped that the findings of this dissertation will enable the wide spectrum of fabric in west Africa and beyond be accessible in a format that can be appreciated in the rest of the world.

The fabric known as Aso Oke is woven by hand in the part of the Nigeria known as Yoruba land , using Horizontal looms to weave strips of cloth which usually cut to a length of 6ft 8inches and have a width of about 3.5 to 4 and a half inches wide these are sewn to together to form a large fabric which is cut to form the African attire .

The process of making the fabric involves apprentice weavers and sometime whole communities specializing in the weaving of these fabrics. The structure follows a hierarchy of a master weaver, associates and apprentices. Due to competition from machine manufactured fabric the industry has suffered a sharp decline not only in the number of weavers but in the wide spread use of these fabrics as daily wear, it is quite restricted in certain communities to ceremonial use. Traditionally the fabric is made of hand spun thread of a single stand but if machine spun yarn is used then two or more strands are used. These threads are usually dyed with indigo, Kola for yellow, and camwood for red and kola for yellow mango bark for beige Vitex grandifola for black. The trend today is to use machine produced threads and synthetics including lurex which give it a metallic finish the traditional patterns do not use any synthetic thread.

Other traditional threads are made from wild silk and wild cotton grown locally and bought from other parts of the country.

The patterns are varied and can be classified according to the type of thread, the weave of the fabric and the design, (Details of this can be found in the book Nigerian Weaving Lamb, Venice and Holmes page 42 -52)

The material can be classified according three major uses ;clothes for prestige value; clothes used for rites and ceremonies; and cloths used every day .This usage will have a bearing on its transformation ( this project) in other countries because the impact of using this fabric for other purposes is that it might minimize the social significance in the countries where they are made and used.

The success of this project might in some way maintain the skills of producing these fabrics and possibly bring about a mini renaissance in the use of this fabric. I could also highlight the fact that this part of Africa has something to contribute to textile history and encourage the engagement of designers in the West African textile design, and possibly provide inspiration and new avenues of development and engagement with art and design in that part of the world.

Picture of Person wearing African Clothes

  • The Transformation of silk.

Silk is a good example of how a material can be transformed:

Silk production started in china about 2500 BC, Remains of silk cloth dating earlier from than 1000bc have been found from excavations to support china as the first source of silk production. The spread of its production took about a thousand years as it was a closely guarded secret. By 600bc it was exported to Europe and it took a long time through subversive means to obtain the silk worm and the means of producing this material (Silk The epitome of luxury Michael Ryder Textiles magazine issue 1 .97)

Silk is an example of a textile that has been successful transformed. The export of silk from Asia (as the main source of Silk) and the production process have both changed during its transformation. But the quality of silk in china remains very good although its versatility has increased. Also the transformation from the textiles from its use as traditional garments in China to European style garment with reference to its source has not destroyed the indigenous market but has created new markets ,and its wide spread use has allowed the traditional produces of silk to thrive ,while new producers in India ( Assam) Thailand ( North East ) ,and Japan also produce silk and this underlines the impact of the transforming a textile to keep its use and production alive . In France there is an interest in revising the traditional method of weaving silk using antique looms to preserve the heritage and to reproduce embroidered silks and brocades used to refurbish the restored interiors of Versailles, Fontainebleau and compiegne (Silk Jacques Antquetil Flammarion Paris)

Summary

The transformation of ethnic textiles will depend on source of the fabric the method of producing and accessibility to the market in which they are sold the ability of fabric to influence other designs should not be over looked.

In ‘The new Textiles trends and traditions’ (Chloe Colchester Thames and Hudson London 1991 PG 6). In recent years textile design has grown in status. It is simultaneously both futuristic and traditional, reflecting the tensions of a number of different forces coming together in the market place which have led in turn to a new generation of hybrid products. Textiles design today is influenced on one hand by major broad-based industrial research projects into new fibre technologies for sportswear and industrial textiles and also by the development of automation and flexible manufacturing systems and on the other by the luxury markets and their revival of elaborate decorative and ancient craft techniques and traditional patterns.

This is indicative of the need for new influences and individual designs outside the mainstream mass product textiles.

The theme in this book looked at the developments of technology in the growth of textile design but a strong theme is the ability create a hybrid that fuses craft techniques to produce new direction in textile design.

This dissertation in its conclusion might examine the possibility of influencing mainstream design in term of texture color and design.

Chapter 2

The design:

A) The design criteria

A definition of design can be given as ‘The process by which needs in the environment are conceptualized and interpreted into instruments which are formulated to satisfy those needs’ (Alan Topalian 1980The management of design projects associated business press) The Model below gives an outline of a process adopted in reaching a design solution.

Fig 2.1The Design Process: David Wise 1990 Wayland publishers 1990

This dissertation attempt to look at the design process and lay the foundation for its management in regard to:

  • The design of the product: The textile design and the products to be made from the textiles inclusive of costs and process and possibly technology and regulation.
  • The environmental design: How the product is made and where it’s made and the impact that would have on profitability. It includes the social effect on the producers of these textiles.
  • Information design: How these textiles are communicated to the designer and to the users/ buyers (advertising, sales promotion and public relations material).
  • Corporate identity if the fabric or its products are to be sold through an interface

(a company or any other form of ownership) then the mission statement or strategy embracing the value beliefs and the expectation of that interface will have to be expressed to the weavers, buyers and possible future workers and developed as the interface grows larger. (this is relevant even if it starts out as a sole trader and never expands the identity will be important).

B) The Design Process

The Design process can be divided into four or more stages:

  1. The need:

This is the stage where we consider and define the problem. This could be generated by a need for further development of an existing product, a response to a client’s request or it could be an entrepreneurial response to a perceived opportunity. This forms the design brief. In this dissertation the focus is a combination of problems:

  • How best to introduce these textiles to another market?
  • How to revive the weaving of these textiles in the country of origin

2) Designing

This is the stage where we consider our solutions to the problem and develop plans:

The solution that was adopted will be seen further in this chapter involving two different solutions and the resolution of the choices was down to ability of the textile designer to meet this criteria and other intangibles that could be explained as personal choices of the designer.

  • Testing and evaluation

This is the stage where we consider what we have designed and made and suggest

improvements. This testing and evaluation involved using questionnaires, conducting interviews and literature reviews and group discussion (see chapter 4)

  • Realization

This is the stage where we make our ideas real.

This involved writing a possible marketing plan outline and then this would further involve

implementation. This is outside the scope of this dissertation.

(The Design Process: David Wise 1990 Wayland Publishers):

This is not a rigid frame work and the application will increase or decrease the number and type of steps to be applied. This process is iterative such that if the design solutions fail the process will be improved and tried again.

  • The Design briefs

Once the need has been identified which is to develop a case for the use of this fabric in the west. The problem statement which sets out the case to be solved is:

To identify the ways in which African fabric can be transformed in the west.

  • Specification:

The following criteria was be used to determine the type of artifact that will be produced

  • Possible design(s) including range and style
  • Ease of production
  • Level of acceptability
  • Cost

The specifications of the brief are Based on:

The alternative uses of this fabric in western countries, the potential markets that this dissertation was interested in exploring are British and the American market. One of the reasons was these countries have used fabrics from other countries such as silks from Asia and cotton from Egypt quite successfully. These countries have influenced their production and helped preserve these industries in a variety of ways. The other being the accessibility to these markets from the source of production of the fabrics. The West African counties have a history of successful trading with these countries.

Initially this particular project might focus on the British market as the dissertation is based in the UK.

D) Design proposal

The final proposed solutions were soft furnishing and fashion accessories

  • Fashion Accessories: Includes ties, scarves, waistcoat, hair ruffles, hats etc.
  • Soft Furnishing: Curtains, loose covers, cushions, throws and pillows (as defined by the Euromonitor).

Soft furnishing met the three criteria on the basis of

  • Design(s) including range and style

The design of soft furnishing includes the curtains cushion throws etc. allows the designer to choose which element of the range or combination of the range to use and it lends itself to innovation. These fabrics are quite heavy and have very vivid colors that enable its use in the home.

  • Ease of production design

The styles used for sort furnishings are quite easy to produce although innovation may involve introduction of complex designs. Since the fabrics are come in strips that are sewn together the production of these designs for soft furnishing are quite simple

  • Level of acceptability

The colors of the fabrics are quite vibrant and would be very difficult to find acceptance in any other way easily and the current tends of using vibrant colors in interior design enables easier acceptance .It should be mentioned that in America, the use of African fabrics and vividly colored fabrics for both fashion accessories and soft furnishing is more wide spread than in the UK this is possibly due to the larger multiracial mix of its population or its wiliness to experiment with new colors and textures.

  • Cost

 The cost element could not be taken over the cost of producing fashion accessories as their cost structure are different.

The Design solution

The final designs were very rudimentary possibly taking into account the researcher minimal design expertise.

The simplest of soft furnishing designs were to be made to test and evaluate the market this took into consideration the possible design(s), including range and style, ease of production and level of acceptability. If the research shows the need for more complex designs then this will be introduced into the process and this would possibly affect the design brief.

The design solution adapted what has been happening in the market looking at magazine and articles, (see appendix) books and engaged in informal interviews with three interior designer/ architects and visiting shops and museums.

Chapter 3

The Design selection

The designs obtained are as shown on the following pages the fabric pages can be seen in the appendix book.

The outline for the shapes and specifications are show but the simplest designs were chosen, the design did no look at the textile design but only at its application if the project were to go to a nest stage the textile design would have taken into consideration:

Fig 3.1 Design solution shapes and styles

Notes:

These designs include other features not shown such as tassels, fringes and the closure are for the cushions are zips button and simple ties. Other design features on the cushions include different fabric on different sides of the cushions and to maximize the way the fabric is made (i.e. strips) there is the option to alternate strips of different types.

The sizes

Throws (cm)

135 *150, 135 * 200, 200*200, 225*220, 260*220

Cushions(cm)

Square:

45*45, 55*55, 68*68, ,78*78’ 91*91,

Rectangular

30*40 30*5535*45 60*40

Round

38 cm Diameter, 45 cm Diameter.

Pictures Showing the finished Products:

Chapter4

Analysis (Evaluation)

This analysis used use data collected from primary and secondary sources after the production of the finished product.

a) Data Collection

The data collection will use both primary and secondary data:

The primary data will be collected using questionnaires sent to two type of respondents

1: The possible customer

2: The buyer for the shops

3: Designer and other interested parties such and the media

The results of this will be used in the marketing plan (Chapter 5) and also to answer questions on the feasibility of the project and the reaction to the product. The results will also be used to determine: pricing, method of sales and product development.

The secondary data consists of:

  1. Mintel market intelligence reports
  2. Euromonitor market reports
  3. Articles, Journals and Books on design of soft furnishing.

The results of review of this review is reflected in the marketing plan (Chapter Five)

The dissertation hopes to obtain from this review quantitative data such as

  • Size of the market: the sales volume and coverage.
  • Structure of the market such as production, distribution sales of the market.
  • The participants in the market the major and niche producers.
  • The factors that influence the market such as: Changes in design, Legislation Technology, The economy.

b) Primary research results

This summary is based on the answers received from the questionnaires, (the sample questionnaire and the profile of the respondents can be found in the appendix) under each answer is a summary of the information expected to be derived:

Summary of the answers

Profiles of Questionnaires sent Soft Furnishing Buyers Designers/Product Manager Furnishing Editors etc. Other Total
Number of questionnaires sent 13 6 5 2 26
Number of Replies 8 4 2 14
% of replies 61 66 0 100 53.8

Table 4.1 Summary of responses to questionnaire

* Other: One Antique textile dealer and one Architect

The Responses:

1) Part of the dissertation aims is to revive the skills of the weavers in Africa as they face competition from other countries and manufactured fabrics.

Do you think the production (Hand weaving) process is important to?

  1. The Buyer [-] b) Both [11] c) The Seller [-] d) Not important [1]

This question was to establish the importance of the process of production for the different respondents.

2) Do you think the fact that its hand woven adds to the price charged for the product?

a) Yes [8]

b) No [4]

This early question was to start the process of thinking so that question 3 might be easier to answer.

3)These textiles are made from a variety of threads mainly cotton, wild silk, and more recently lurex and rayon with both simple and complex designs.

What price range do you think people will pay for ethnic inspired soft furnishing:

Cushions Size: 45* 45 cm, 50*50cm:  Throws / Wall hangings. Size: 1.9m* 1.35m, 2m-1.85m

£11- 20, [5]     Below______     

£ 21-30, [8]     £31 – 45, [4]    

£31-40, [3]     £46-60, [6]    

£41-50, [1]     £61-75, [2]

£51-60, [1]     £76-90, [3]

£61-70, [-]     £91-105, [1]

This is to establish the probable price range that this product might be sold.

4) Do you feel that knowing the source of the fabric (African):

a) Adds to the perception of its value [7]

b) Removes from the perception of its value [-]

c) Makes no difference to its perceived value [3]

d) Other [2]

This question encourages the respondent to respond to the intangible value that may be applied during marketing of the product.

5) What other products do you think can be made from this textile?

  1. Blinds, Curtains,
  2. Patchwork quilts, Bedspreads
  3.  Bags,
  4.  Waistcoats, Hats, Hair accessories
  5.  Footstools, Furniture Upholstery,
  6.  Book covers
  7.  Table mats, Table linen (if washable)

This was a general open-ended question designed to stimulate ideas and direction for

 possible product development

6) Which, soft furnishing items (such as cushions, throws, casual rugs, tablecloths, mats) do you tend to buy/ sell more often?

a) Seller:    b) Buyer:

Cushions [8]    Cushions [8]

Throws [7]    Throws [8]

Casual Rugs [3]    Casual Rugs [4]

Table Cloths [3]    Table Clothes [4]

Note that the higher numbers indicate that more of that product is bought or sold.

This question was to establish the proportion of which product was to be made and the

priority of production.

7) Will you be interested in buying product made from this textile

As a Buyer or as an End user?

a) As a buyer:    b) As an End user

Yes [5]     Yes [3]

No [6]     No [6]

This question wanted to move beyond perception and see if this product could be sold on the basis of the presentation given.

  • Do you think the fact that the textile is African a?
  • Strong selling point [5]
  • Weak selling point [1]
  • Not a selling point [4]

This is a marketing inspired question to establish what the critical selling point of the product

are, and if the product and its looks are more important than source in scale of importance.

9) What do you feel about the color and quality of the fabric

Color: a) Within its market very good

  b) Very Interesting

  c) Not very interesting

  d) Like natural coloring

  e) Too bright for European tastes

Quality: Very Good [1], Good [6] Average [4] low [_] Very low [1]

This was a twofold question the color was to dispel or confirm that European tastes for more muted colors was true. The questionnaire on quality was to establish what level of quality was required.

  1. Please any further comment:

a) What is the wearability of the fabric and color fastness

b) Good weaving technique but colors tend to be too ethnic / not mainstreamed enough

c) Current trends include softness wool velvet fleece etc. which could be affect the ability to sell it.

d) Needs to be sold in another environment

e) Very experimental

 f) The fabric will be very easy to imitate and will therefore it need to be sold in with a difference in a specialized market

h) The gold color in some of the fabrics might make it difficult to sell in the UK

i) There is a market for this fabric but the success of selling them will be finding the right one

This question was to generate a general discourse and tease out other area of enquires that where omitted in the questionnaire without the restraints of the closed ended questionnaire.

Summary

In general, the responses were positive with some practical advice with the suggestions on

possible direction for the fabric, this provided a good source of qualitative data.

The primary research also highlighted possible area of discourse that this dissertation had not thought of investigating such as should ethnic fabric be confined to arts and craft or fiber art or should it cross over to the main stream textile and furnishing industry?

This difference was apparent due to the unfamiliarity most respondents had to ethnic fabric. It also highlighted the fact that this dissertation did not question respondents who were practitioners of arts and craft which might have provided a wider and more diverse response.

Other Limitations of the primary research was the number of respondents question a larger number of respondents might have provided a more diverse result. It should be mentioned that the response was good since 53.8% responded to the questionnaire.

c) The Secondary Research

The research that was carried out using secondary research showed the following: That ethnic textiles and fabrics from other parts of the world play an important role in the design of contemporary interior artifacts .an example of this was at the Decorex trade fair ( an interior design fair) this year the ethnic fabrics have made a strong appearance in terms of texture color and the use, Metallic fabrics using influences from china were a designer spent weeks Exploring, Calligraphy , Egyptian Papyrus etc. (Trading Spaces Barbara Chandler Evening Standard Homes and Property 8th October 1997)

Other research showed that there they exist market research on house hold textile and soft furnishing but not as recent as in other area of design the latest report done in 1996 had only reliable data until 1991. The diverse nature of the market showed that it’s possible to have a successful specialist niche in the market. The secondary research showed that project of a similar nature to this dissertation have been carried out by Oxfam and a few agencies with different objectives in but there were relevant parallels that could be made (See chapter 5 & 6).

Chapter 5

 The Market plans

a) The Industry

The household textiles consisting of such items as household textiles: Bedlinens, Blankets, table linen and soft furnishing which includes curtains loose covers throws cushions and pillows, the manufacturer and retailers tend to be separate businesses.

 New developments in the structure of soft furnishing have involved selling ceramics, furniture, tin wear, toiletry with soft furnishings to increase sales and product range.

Most of the best-known names in furnishings are subsidiaries of large textile groups.

In addition, several major foreign companies sell in the UK. The manufacturing industry is dominated by companies employing less than 20 people and making special products as illustrated from the table below It should be noted that market research into the soft furnishing is not as comprehensive as is done for other design studies such as fashion design that are done every year.

The importance of the size and structure of the industry allow the prospective entrant to this market know the possible method and means to penetrate the market.

Table 5.1 Sizes of UK Household textile firms

Number of employees Number of Enterprises Employment (000)
1-99 1294 14.6
100-199 35 5.2
200-299 11 3.0
300-399 4 2.1
400+ 4 3.9
Total 1,348 28.9
     

Source: Census of production – Household textiles Published HMSO

The best-known names however are the property of bid diversified textile groups and some overseas companies are active in the home furnishing in the UK. The distribution of home furnishing is direct from the manufacturer to retailer rather than through the wholesaler. Some sell through agents who are freelancers who represents a large number of manufacturers.

The latest figures from comprehensive survey which are over five years old show that growth in the industry is influenced by the performance of the housing market and as there is growth in the housing market there is growth in the textile market.

The size of the market is given below the household textile s and soft furnishing consumer:

 Table 5.2 Markets size for soft furnishing in the UK

Year 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991
Euromonitor market size  £ (Million) 1583 1679 1763 1816 1871

Source Euromonitor Survey of soft furnishing 1996

Customer buying patterns

Figure 5.1 illustrates the stores where respondents have bought ‘soft’ housewares (such as cushions, throws, casual rugs, tablecloths and mats etc.) in the last 12 months. This question produced far fewer positive responses than the question relating to ‘hard’ housewares, with only half the sample claiming to have purchased any soft housewares over the past year, compared with almost 80% for hardware. These responses should therefore, be treated with some caution, although they are illustrative of general trends in the market.

Even though 50% of the population are purchasers of soft housewares, this product category attracts a much lower purchasing frequency compared to hard housewares. As a result, the penetration data for individual retail facias are considerably lower than for hard housewares. Overall, socio-economic and age profiles display similar characteristics to those for ‘hard’ housewares purchasing – low levels of buyer penetration at either ends of the age spectrum, a concentration of activity among the key home forming and home improver age bands, and a marked skew towards the AB socio-economic group.

Unlike ‘hard’ housewares, major multiples do not appear to play such a prominent role in this sector of the market. Marks & Spencer and Debenhams only just nudge ahead of market stalls, other department stores and soft furnishing/linen shops, which along with Argos each attracted 5% of respondents.

Figure 5.1        Purchasing of ‘soft’ furnishings in the last 12 months, July 1996

Base: 1,601 adults  *incl Cargo Homeshops, Heal’s, Jerry’s Home Store, The Pier, The Reject Shop: Source: BMRB/Mintel

Figures 24a, 24b and 24c provide a demographic breakdown of the purchasers of soft housewares. Overall, slightly more women than men tend to buy household textiles, predominantly aged 20-54 years. Purchasers tend to be from the upper socio-economic groups (ABC1s), with children either living at home or that have left home.

Table 5.3         Demographic details of purchasers of ‘soft’ housewares, July 1996

Base: 1,601 adults

                      All     Marks & Deben-  Argos Market Other     Soft furn/ Wool-    John

                     buying               Spencer hams             stall       dept store              linen          worths           Lewis

                                                                                    store      shop

                      %       %           %          %       %        %            %            %          %

All                     49        8           6          5         5           5              5             4         4

Men                  42        8           6          5         4           4              5             3         3

Women             56        9           6          5         6           7              5             4         6

Housewives       56        9           6          5         7           7              6             4         6

Other women   49        5           7          12        4           6              4             2         1

15-19                33        2           5          7         3           3              1             2         1

20-24                47        7           7          12        6           3              5             6         3

25-34                62        11          5          8         7           5              7             6         5

35-44                55        11          8          7         4           8              5             5         4

45-54                50        9           6          3         7           7              4             4         6

55-64                49        8           8          3         6           6              6             2         5

65+                    38        7           2          1         4           4              6             1         4

AB                     57        12          8          3         4           7              7             2         10

C1                     49        10          6          4         5           6              4             3         6

C2                     46        8           7          8         5           3              6             5         2

D                       46        5           4          6         6           5              4             2         1

E                        47        3           2          4         9           6              4             6         –

London              80        9           6          6         3           6              4             4         7

South                 72        8           7          6         5           6              7             4         2

Anglia/Midlands           77          7         7          4           6              3            6         4              5

SW/Wales         48        8           4          8         5           5              6             6         2

Yorkshire/NE    47        9           6          4         5           7              5             2         5

North West       46        7           6          4         10          3              4             3         1

Scotland            55        13          7          5         5           10             9             1         5

Pre-family         48        8           7          7         5           3              5             4         4

Family               57        10          4          9         6           6              5             7         4

Empty nesters/

 no family         51        8           9          4         7           8              5             3         5

Post family/

 retired             42        8           5          2         5           5              6             1         4

Source: BMRB/Mintel

The relevance of the information given above is that it enables that targeting of the product at specific customer and also enable the researcher to investigate possible outlets for the product when refining the market research, a particular age group and shopping outlet might be reached. An immediate result of this is that specialist and linen / soft furnishing shop will be investigated further as possible outlet for the products and Men, women and House wives between the age of 24-44 might be targeted.

This dissertation focus on the on the soft furnishes and in particular the trends in the market place as this changes and possible developments in the market in the future.

Since the products developed and possibly to be developed in the near future are throws, cushions possibly curtain the rest of the marketing plan will focus on this

b) The market: Price, Promotion, Place, Product,

Product

Cushions are sold in different formats with customers simply buying the pad and making and making their own cover or buying a cover separately, a pad with a cover already fitted or a scatter cushion which has an integral cover.

Cushions Size: 45* 45 cm, 50*50cm

Throw are usually made to different sizes the most common being according to the size of bed (Single, Double, King size Throws / Wall hangings. Size: 1.9m* 1.35m, 2m-1.85m)

The finish of these products will be done in England as its nearer to the point of

sale

Percentage analysis of soft furnishing Market by broad sector 1987-1991:

Table 5.4 Market segmentation of soft furnishing

% Value 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991
Cushions and Blinds 71 72 73 71 69
Cushions and fabric 29 28 27 29 31
Total 100 100 100 100 100

Source: Euromonitor Estimates

Price

The pricing of the cushions

 The cost of making these are quite low about two pounds each and one pound for the cover at most the fabric cost averages two to three pound per cushion

Average cost will be about five pounds

The price range is between 11and 40 pounds for the cushions this will need to be finalized if the product is to be made the basis of this prices is the primary research carried out in chapter 4

Cushions: £11- 20, £ 21-30, £31-40,

Throws: £31 – 45, £46-60,    

 Place

The most likely place that this product will be sold will be the more specialist shops rather than mainstream shops as the research show that the introduction of the product

will take time and will need to be sold to people who appreciate the textiles or need to be educated in the significance of buying this textile.

Promotion

The possibility of using exhibition and article in the home furnishing press will be the most likely approach to promoting this textile and the products. Another route is to encourage designer to use these textiles and encourage feedback from them generating awareness of the product. This is apart from innovative direct advertising.

Summary:

This chapter looks at the outline for a marketing plan for the textile and has outlined the price the production selling points and promotion the following were omitted because the it would be outside the scope of the dissertation

The cost and cash flow of producing this product commercially

The methods of distributing these product

The in-depth promotion outlines of this fabric

Possible profit and loss statements

This are aspects that will examined if the dissertation was to become a commercial project.

Chapter 6

Conclusion

This dissertation was written for the following reasons:

  • To write a marketing plan to market and distribute fashion accessories and / or household furnishings made from African fabrics.
  • To establish criteria for design decision making

i.e. what to make and who the target market is.

  • To find out the possible future directions on making other African fabrics accessible in the west.

The expected out come at the end of the dissertation where

  • To make a firm decision on how the fabric would be used as, fashion accessories, clothing, home furnishing.
  • To answer the question as to whether its right to use this fabric with / without references to the source of the material and the context of its use.
  • Testing the marketability of these products using focused group discussions (users) and questionnaires directed at to both the fashion designer and buyer.
  • Possibly start the process of creating a range of products to sell in the UK.

The results of the analysis show that there is a market for products made from ‘Ethnic’

fabrics and the source of product to be made was as important as was the price and design. An example of the importance of this was found in an exhibition called African 95 at the royal academy in which a writer commented that the exhibition in itself was good, but cloth particularly when used for clothing is closely bound up with personality and group identity which was acknowledged but only cursorily

‘One of the key problems with the exhibition was that many of the textiles on display were meant to be seen on the human body draped moving and alive and the absence of context for the cloth on display was frustrating.( Freddie laurent The art of African Textiles : Technology Tradition and lurex Textile art and design history vol 24 Winter1996 open issue) Although this was in reference to the an exhibition that looked at fabric in regard to its use as clothing the question that proceeded from this is that if the fabric was used for something else would it still make a reference to the dynamics of its use and identity?

I

This dissertation also found that the use of this fabric could have two effects at the point of production and at the point of sale.

At the point of production:

This dissertation looks at some of the issues that will have to be considered although not in depth as this is not the core focus of the project this issue is the:

If the project is successful what are the benefits to the people who weave these textiles in terms of reviving the production of this fabric that is contracting.

How much will use of this fabric for other thing change the use and production at its point of production?

The effect of this project at the point of production could be illustrated by similar projects carried out in Asia in research carried in villages in Thailand. The production of textiles is linked to the annual rice production during the growing season women make clothing for household use and the local monastery (Robes Bed linen Blankets) they form part of a larger system of barter for threads (silk and Cotton) and dyes. The production gives the women weavers social recognition and helps the economically especially for the very skilled. The women have been encouraged sell this to a wider range of people outside of their communities quite successfully retaining the ceremonial design for the monastic use. Quality control and training in finance and the retention of the weaving cycles to coincide with the rice planting season has meant minimal disruption to the social fabric of the society.

(Susan Conway Textiles Traditions and the market place: Textile art and design history vol 24 Winter1996 open issue)

The similarities between Thai and Nigerian weavers is in the social role of different textile type for ceremonial use and commercial use. But differ with the relationship with the agriculture (although in the smaller villages the is some overlap) and the production of textiles is not a female preserve both a male and female weaver exist in the small towns and villages. Using the experiences of organization such a Oxfam who have similar approaches to sell the products of countries in Asia and south America in England to provide income for the weavers has been successful but the long term disruption to the social structure is yet to be measured as the weaver make both the textile and the finished product and this could create a distraction as the making of traditional artifacts might decline. They also use designers to teach new designs and train in quality control (The Oxfam report Autumn 1997) this in the long term may have a positive effect in the adaptation and development of the weaving industry or negative effect in a loss in authenticity as the western market is exposed to a diluted product.

At the point of Sale:

This dissertation found out for these products to be successful you need buyers and seller that can appreciate the textiles. The influence of ethnic textiles could be seen at the Decorex trade fair (an interior design fair) this year the ethnic fabrics have made a strong appearance in terms of texture color and the and also the gold, Metallic fabrics using influences from china (Where a designer spent weeks Exploring, Calligraphy, Egyptian Papyrus etc. (Trading Spaces Barbara Chandler Evening Standard Homes and Property 8th October 1997)

This influence can be can also have a positive effect on the color, and texture of European textiles with long term effect not only in soft furnishing but in fashion and other kinds of design. An example of this influence can be seen in an article by John Gilmore ‘Ethnic World review of textile design’

He Traces the influences of ethnic fabrics on the design in terms of color, style, cut texture etc. starting in the 1900 using the following signpost:

1911; Poriet a Parisian costumer started using oriental influences in design of his costumes later in the he visited morocco after the first world war and which gave him designs for textile patterning and turbans pantaloons and divided skirts into women wear.

Madeleine Vionnet the inventor of the bias cut in the first half of the of the twentieth century was influenced by the by Japanese costume design.

Sonia Delaunay drew on geometric patterns of north Africa and Spanish Portuguese folk traditions patterning her textile. He goes on to mention the embroidery techniques and weaving patterns that have been adopted by designer in the developed world from Indonesia central America central Africa and china.

The reference to designers such as Zhandra Rhodes using Indian textiles in other ways apart from the traditional styles is seen as a way forward. The cheaper air travel and expose of tourists to different culture and mode of dress has allowed the education of the tourist but also the local maker of this fabric to make clothes specific to the needs of these tourist thus affecting the style of the textiles. The traditional weaving techniques have endured in places like Japan and India to the benefit of the designer as it can act as a source of inspiration to those who need to refer to this. A well-known designer Issey Miayake tried to retain the look and feel of the traditionally weave using state of the art looms but without a reference to the authentic this the overall effect would be lost as it would just be another textile.

 This dissertation concludes that in order to carry out the development of African textiles as a product, the recognition of the ability of the textile in its original state to influence its perception by the buyer is just as important if not more important than its transformation. This is because it carries with it a lot more than its looks and texture it conveys the basis of comparison, the inherent value that are conveyed with the artifact made from this would ensure its long-term survival. It carries with it a context that can lead to other directions of its developments and possibly its ability to influence other forms of design such as fashion. The desire to transform a textile for purely commercial reasons has the following short coming:

It might change the fabrics use at the source of origin and if the social context is lost the creativity that derives from this may be lost as well.

The ability commercial application in one direction/ application might hinder its use elsewhere.

The promotion of this fabric without an educational content might restrict its acceptance to a wide audience.

The Dissertation would encourage the use of this textiles as other products with the long term with in mind taking into consideration the benefits to the weavers at the source and the ability to influence the design in the west .The limits in its ability to do this will be down to the approach used to introduce this to the buyer and designers. One indication is the educational approach rather than the pure marketing approach, it is hoped this approach will enable the appreciation of this textile in two ways first in its original context enabling it to influence design as a whole and secondly in its transformation possibly creating new directions for the fabric.

 Appendix

1Biblography

  1. Peter Gorb (1990) Design Management (Papers from the London Business School) l Architecture Design and Technology Press London
  • International UIAH (1991) Product Development and Design Practice

University of Industrial arts Helsinki

  • Mark OakLey (1984) Managing product Design George Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd
  • Michael L Ryder (Jan 1997) Silk the Epitome of Luxury Textile magazines issue 1 97

5) Venice Lamb, and Judy Holmes 1980 Nigerian Weaving H.A & V.M Lamb RoxFord

  • Jacques Anquetil 1994Silk Flammarion
  •  Shrireen Jilla 8th October 1997 A movable East Evening standard Homes and property
  • Barbara Chandler 8th October 1997 Trading spaces Evening standard Homes and property
  • John Gilmore 1997 Ethnic World review of Textile Design Volume 12 1997
  1. Chloe Colchester 1990 TextilesTrends and Traditions Thames and Hudson 1990
  1.  Susan Conway 1990 Textiles Traditions and the Market place the study of textile art design and History Winter 1996 vol 24 open issue
  1. Freddie launert 1996 The Art of African Textiles: Technology, Tradition and Lurex. study of textile art design and History Winter 1996 vol 24 open issue.
  1. Oxfam 1997 The Oxfam report autumn 1997
  2. David wise: The design process Wayland publishers1990

15) Julia Barnard Soft furnishings Dorling kinderley 1996

2Dissertation Proposal

Title: Transformation

The alternative uses of West African fabric (Aso Oke Nigerian) in the West

Objectives

1) To write a marketing plan to market and distribute fashion accessories and / or household furnishings made from African fabrics

2) To establish criteria for design decision making

i.e. what to make and who the target market is.

3) Future directions i.e. making the other fabrics accessible in the west.

Method

Primary research

a) Interview with designers/ buyers to establish the best possible uses of the fabric

b) Interviews or questionnaire with buyers about the finished product

Secondary research

a) Market reports on the various market segments i.e. soft furnishing and / or fashion accessories:

Mintel reports

Keynote reports

b) Journal and books:

History of fabrics: how the have been transported from on context and used in the west.

Expected outcomes

1) Deciding how it’s to be used: fashion accessories, clothing, home furnishing.

2) To answer the question as to whether its right to use this fabric with / without references to the source of the material.

3) Testing the marketability of these products using focused group discussions (users) and questionnaires directed at to both the fashion designer and buyer.

4) Creating a range of products to sell in the UK

Possible report Structure

a) Introduction

b) How the fabrics are made and what the fabric are used for.

c) Histories of other fabrics that have been used like this

d) Data collection, interviews and market review

e) Analysis

f) The design decision i.e. accessories / soft furnishing or both        

g) Conclusion   and recommendation

Problematic areas:

 Deciding to either write my dissertation as a marketing plan taking the above into consideration or to confine it to a study of the way of adapting the fabric to the west?

What will the impact of this fabric mean to the producers?

3 Questionnaire

This questionnaire was sent to various respondents:

6 Tivoli Gardens

12/10/97

Dear

Transformation: The alternative uses of West African fabric in the West

As part of my research for the MA design studies dissertation, I would like your help with my research.

My specific research interest lies in the area of using African fabrics to makes products that can sold in the west with the view to reviving/ sustaining the native weaving industry in different African countries. I would be very grateful if you could take the time to answer the attached questionnaire and return it to me at the address below.

I have attached:

1 Swatch of Fabric

1 Self-addressed envelope

1 Detailed background to the project.

2 Photographs

1Questionniare

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you once again

Yours Sincerely

Stephen Adenaike

Questionnaire:

{Please tick the appropriate boxes next to the questions}

The Personal Profile:

Details:

Surname______________________ First name _______________ Initials______________

Contact Address__________________________________________________________

Day time Phone No___________________________ Evening______________________

Position:

a) Designer. Interior:[_], Other (Please state): __________________________

b) Buyer: Soft Furnishing: [_], Other (Please state) __________________________

c) Involved in design: Directly (Please state) _______________________________________

   Indirectly (Please state) ______________________________________

d) Student Design:[_] Other (Please state) ________________________

e) User: ___________________________________________

The Process:

Part of the dissertation aims is to revive the skills of the weavers in Africa as they face competition from other countries and manufactured fabrics.

1) Do you think the production (Hand weaving) process is important to?

  1. The Buyer [_] b) Both [_]

c) The Seller [_] d) Not important [_]

2) Do you think the fact that its hand woven add to the price charged for the product?

a) Yes [_]

b) No [_]

The product

These textiles are made from a variety of threads mainly cotton, wild silk, and more recently lurex and rayon with both simple and complex design.

3) What price range do you think people will pay for ethnic inspired soft furnishing:

Cushions Size: 45* 45 cm, 50*50cm:  Throws / Wall hangings. Size: 1.9m* 1.35m, 2m-1.85m

£11- 20, [_] Below______     

£ 21-30, [_] £31 – 45, [_]    

£31-40, [_] £46-60, [_]    

£41-50, [_] £61-75, [_]

£51-60, [_] £76-90, [_]

£61-70, [_] £91-105, [_]

Above.      Above______

4) Do You feel that knowing the source of the fabric (African):

a) Adds to the perception of its value [_]

b) Removes from the perception of its value [_]

c) Makes no difference to its perceived value [_]

d) Other___________________________________________________

5) What other products do you think can be made from this textile?

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

6) Which, soft furnishing items (such as cushions, throws, casual rugs, tablecloths, mats) do you tend to buy/ sell more often?

(Please fill in 1,2,3,4 in the boxes. 1 represents the highest number sold/ bought (4 represent the lowest):

a) Seller:    b) Buyer:

Cushions [_] Cushions [_]

Throws [_] Throws [_]

Casual Rugs [_] Casual Rugs [_]

Table Cloths [_] Table Clothes [_]

Other___________________, Other ____________________

7) Will you be interested in buying product made from this textile

As a Buyer or as an End user?

a) As a buyer:    b) As an End user

Yes [_] Yes [_]

No [_] No [_]

  • Do you think the fact that the textile is African a?
  • Strong selling point [_]
  • Weak selling point [_]
  • Not a selling point [_]

9) What do you feel about the color and quality of the fabric

Color: _________________________________________________________________

Quality: Very Good [_], Good [_] Average [_] low [_] Very low [_]

10) Please any further comment:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

‘This questionnaire shall be treated confidentially, and no reference shall be made individually to the respondents.

Thank you for your co-operation:

Stephen Adenaike

Background

Woven textiles in West Africa is of great antiquity and this is proven by the number of textiles that have been found by archaeological research in Ghana, Nigeria and along the west coast in the period c. 700 to c. 1050 .Its known that the raffia weaving vertical loom existed in western Africa from Cameroon south ward to Angola prior to Portuguese contacts in the fifteenth century was established in Benin and regions of the Niger Delta

 (Venice lamb & Judy Holmes ‘Nigerian Weaving 1980 Alphabet and image weaving).

This dissertation is focusing initially on West African fabrics. But it is hoped that the findings of this dissertation will enable the wide spectrum of fabric in t Africa and beyond be accessible in a format that can be appreciated in the rest of the world.

The fabric swatches known as Aso Oke is woven by hand in the part of the Nigeria known as Yoruba land , using Horizontal looms to weave strips of cloth which usually cut to a length of 6ft 8inches and have a width of about 3.5 to 4 and a half inches wide these are sewn to together to form a large fabric which is cut to form the African attire.

The process of making the fabric involves apprentice weavers and sometime whole communities specializing in the weaving of these fabrics. The structure follows a hierarchy of a master weaver, associates and apprentices. Due to competition from machine manufactured fabric the industry has suffered a sharp decline not only in the number of weavers but in the wide spread use of these fabrics as daily wear, it is quite restricted in certain communities to ceremonial use. Traditionally the fabric is made of hand spun thread of a single stand but if machine spun yarn is used then two or more strands are used. These threads are usually dyed with indigo, Kola for yellow, and camwood for red and kola for yellow mango bark for beige Vitex grandifola for black. The trend today is to use machine produced threads and synthetics including lurex which give it a metallic finish the tradition al patterns do not use any synthetic thread.

Other traditional threads are made from wild silk and wild cotton grown locally and bought from other parts of the country

The patterns are varied and can be classified according to the type of thread, the weave of the fabric and the design, (Details of this can be found in the book Nigerian Weaving Lamb, Venice and Holmes page 42 -52)

The material can be classified according three major uses; clothes for prestige value; clothes used for rites and ceremonies; and cloths used every day. This usage will have a bearing on its transformation (this project) in other countries because the implication of using this fabric for other purposes is that might have the possibility of minimizing social significance in the countries where they are made and used.

The success of this project might in some way maintain the skills of producing these fabrics and possibly bring about a mini renaissance in the use of this fabric. I could also highlight the fact that this part of Africa has something to contribute to textile history and encourage the engagement of designers in the West African textile design, and possibly provide inspiration and new avenues of development.

It is hoped that this background will encourage you to fill this questionnaire. Please contact me if you want more information. If you are buyer and will be interested in the future development of this project commercially you can contact me at the address and number below:

Stephen Adenaike

Profile of people sent questionnaire:

NAME, Organisation and address Position Reply
1)Ms. Susan Stankus Elle Decoration EMAP Elan Group (women) Endeavor House 186 Shaftesbury Avenue London WC2H 8JG Shopping Editor  
2) Mr. Julian Rees Harrods, Knightsbridge SW1X 7XL Buyer Light & Furnishing Fabrics  
3) Ms. Eva Rupprecht Harrods, Knightsbridge SW1X 7XL Interior Design Procurement Manager  
4) Ms. Sarah Bryant Liberty Regent Street W1R 6AH Buyer Furnishing Fabrics  
6) Ms. Alison Richards The PIER 153 Milton Park          Abingdon Oxon OX14 4SD Managing Director    
7) Ms. Kas Wijeyawardena Selfridges 400 Oxford Street London Buyer Soft Furnishing  
8) Natalie Wilson House and Garden Conde Nast Publications Ltd Vogue House Hanover Square London W1R 0AD Deputy Furnishing Editor  
9) Elena Thompson World of Interiors Conde Nast Publications Ltd Vogue House Hanover Square London W1R 0AD Stylist    
10) Mr. DR Jones John Lewis Partnership 171 Victoria St London SW1E 5NN Director (Buyer Furnishing Fabrics)    
11) Annabel Hay The close building 4 -6 Magire Street London SE1 2NQ The Conran shop buying Officer  
12) Toni Spencer Wallpaper Time Life Brettenham House Lancaster place WC2E 7TL Stylist  
13) Stephenie Gilbert Habitat 196 Tottenham Court Road London Design Administrator  
14) Mr Carlos Hone Aero 94 Westbourne Grove London W11 Buyer  
16) Polly Dickens The Source 1 Nine Elms SW8 5NQ General Manager  
17) Ms. Rebecca Duke Homes and Garden IPC Magazines Southbank Publishing Group Kings Reach Tower Stamford Street London SE1 9LS Decorative Editor  
18) Ms. Molly Hogg Josephine Ryan Antiques 335 Lille Road Fulham London SW6 7PA   Dealer of antique Textiles  
19) Ms. Anthonia Graham Graham & Green 4 Elgin Crescent W11 2DA Buyer & owner    
20) Joss Graham 10 Eccleston Street London SW1W 9LT Buyer  
21) Christina Smith Neal Street East 5 Neal Street London WC2 9PU Buyer  
22) Paula MacGibbon Neal Street East 5 Neal Street London WC2 9PU Buyer  
23) June Swindell and Karina Holmes Salt Second Floor Southside Oxo Tower Wharf Barge house street Southbank Street SE1 9PH Designer and Owner  
24) Ms. Joanna Steel Fired Earth, Twyford Mill        Oxford Road Adderbury Oxon OX17 3HP Marketing Manager  
25) Chris Hallsey Designers Guild 3 Olaf Street London W11 4BE Technical Product Development Manager  
Tunji Balogun Zaria Flat 28 Charlotte court 68 b Old Kent road London SE1 4NU Architect / designer  

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