Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.


May 20th, 2012

Fashion Africa – Business Analysis – Chichia London


The African fashion industry is at present enjoying a renaissance with all the brands involved vying for the attention and interest of the fashionable public. With some finding their niche, others are still experimenting to see what works best.

Join me today while I take a look at Chichia London as I bring you my usual dose of fashion brand analysis.

With the knowledge she acquired in her diverse work experience within the fashion industry, Tanzanian-born Christine Mhando launched the label that bears her childhood nickname, Chichia in 2007.

The Chichia London ready to wear range is an amalgamation of both continents and cultures from which the designer was raised. The label’s signature transpires from the artful application of the “Khanga”, a traditional East African cotton printed fabric used by local women as wraps.

Each Chichia London collection consists of an eclectic range of dresses and separates in modern wearable silhouettes and styles in a variety of succulent colours. Chichia London’s intelligent use of eye-catching colourful prints in natural fabrics intermixed with beautiful embellishments and intricate detailing makes every piece uniquely innovative and a timeless addition to anyone’s wardrobe.

Last year, the brand also won the Ethical Fashion Forum Innovation Pure Award.

Chichia-London-Made-in-Dar collection

London-based designer Christine Mhando graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with an honours degree, in 2002. After her studies, Christine gained invaluable experience working for high-end designers as well as womenswear brands and suppliers for the high-street mecca.

A unique translation of the traditional spiced up with a contemporary stylish approach.

The Chichia London client is a cosmopolitan woman who embraces cultures, has an open mind and is able to be experimental in her fashion outlook. She travels, knows what she wants and is confident and driven but also full of youthful exuberance.


Chichia London is fast developing its branding image as a unique fashion brand that is connecting the world to the “Khanga” traditional fabric of East Africa.

Image Chichia London

Chichia x Made By Africa-Copyright Chichia/Made By Africa

The brand is also building its visibility by having press features on reputable mainstream platforms such as Marie Claire, Grazia and Cosmopolitan magazine. Features on fashion forward reputable African online sites such as One Nigerian Boy, Haute Fashion Africa, Bella Naija, Clutch Mag Online, Fashion Bomb Daily, Fashion Junkii and Shadders also opens the brand up to an African/black fashion crowd craving contemporary stylish yet traditional African pieces. Participating in events such as Untold and Fashion Diversity, exhibiting at Pure London, Swahili Fashion Week in 2009 and 2010 as well as Arise Magazine Fashion Week in Lagos in 2011 & 2012 and the upcoming iRock Tribes of Africa social awareness event, increases their visibility and achievement portfolio.

A brand’s relative position within an industry is given by its choice of competitive advantage (cost leadership vs. differentiation) and its choice of competitive scope. Competitive scope distinguishes between brands targeting broad industry segments and those focusing on a narrow segment.

In the fashion industry, brands rely heavily on using their image to differentiate themselves from their competition.

How is Chichia London achieving this? By focusing their brand’s image on a traditional fabric that is not as commonly used in the industry as the West African Ankara. By blending bold colours to create playful silhouettes in dresses and separates that evoke youthfulness and freshness enabling the brand to be easily identifiable.

However, with other brands such as Lalesso also using the Khanga, Chichia London will need to ensure they are a step ahead by discovering and implementing new ways to still keep their brand identifiable.

Advertising can be defined as a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products or services with the desired result to drive consumer behaviour.

Various traditional media include mass media such as newspaper, magazines, television, radio, outdoor advertising (bill boards) and direct marketing. New media refers to online and text messages.

Chichia London mostly employs the new media option as their mode of promotion; they have several features online, as mentioned above, they use Facebook as well as Twitter to communicate to their audience albeit not intensively.

Whilst this is not wrong, this only is not enough to sustain a fashion business in the long run.
It’ll be great to see more fashion films, not just on Youtube or blogs but also on our TV screens. More fashion advertorials in magazines, more celebrity endorsements/partnerships between our brands, product placements and collaborations with the film and TV industry and then the use of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to complement the major methods of advertising/visibility.

Illustration Chichia by Natsuki Otani for book Fashion Africa by Jacqueline Shaw – copyright 2011

What the majority of brands within the industry have failed to realise is the importance of advertising for their businesses to achieve greater visibility. Most brands seem to thrust themselves out there without a clear thought as to how they are going to enable growth within their business.

It is understandable that presently finance is a major setback in our industry and it is in dire need of investors to partner with our brands as is done in the mainstream allowing a greater freedom for our brands to do more than they do now. However, because our industry is relatively new and still in the infancy stage most investors would want to see that a business opportunity is viable and profitable beforehand and to ensure this, the ground up cost has to be borne initially by the business owner.

Chichia London needs more visibility and awareness, by getting reputable celebrity clients/endorsements, product placements in films, TV series, reputable music videos and increasing their reseller portfolio across the globe to ensure they are selling to a larger audience.

The brand is currently sold in online sites such as Not Just a Label, My Asho, African Pulse, Agnes & Lola and the Made in Africa shop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


The importance of a functional website to any business is paramount. It serves as a first point of contact between your brand and potential customers. It advises (about brand), connects (contacts), displays (products – collections) and informs (events/press/blog).

At present, the brand’s website is not functional. The landing page should be more inviting and captivating. There should be higher end/playful imageries that excellently market the brand’s products. In an industry where many brands are cropping up all the time, the competition is fierce and one would expect more from this brand given their experience and their length of time within the industry. They are no longer “new” in the market and therefore need to update their status and their branding to reflect their product quality and their pricing which goes up to £160 for a maxi dress and £55 for mere sandals.


Made for Africa Collaboration
Chichia for “Made by Africa” SS12 collaboration collection is a range of ethically produced high quality garments using a combination of cotton blends and locally sourced organic cotton jerseys with African printed cloth that brings new life to the perception of everyday basics. In aid of Made by Africa’s concept of supporting local projects, 1 US Dollar of the wholesale value of every garment sold went towards assisting in educating children at the SOS Children’s Village in Tanzania. The brand also collaborated with Tanzanian TV presenter/artist Vanessa Mdee.

Chichia/Made by Africa factory-image copyright Made by Africa

The brand also makes sandals, scarves as well as soft furnishing accessories such as chair covers and cushions.

Author details:
Cynthia Anduhtabe
Branding/Marketing/Communications Consultant
Twitter: @Brownschuga

Main image – Christine Mhando of Chichia London with Adele Dejak Jaber hide bag – source:



EFI Accelerator For African Designers 21-22 – CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

The EFI Accelerator Programme is back, and they are now taking applications until 31st of March. With the support of European Union, the Ethical Fashion Initiative aspires to propel creative entrepreneurs forward, providing the...
by africafashionguide



Always wondered what it is like actually INSIDE a waxprint african print printhouse IN Africa! Then watch this video here ≥≥–0c The full video over on my YouTube channel highlights compani...
by africafashionguide



Geneva, 2nd February 2021: The Ethical Fashion Initiative – a joint venture of the UN and WTO’s International Trade Centre, has selected three Kenyan designers to participate in the second Ethical Fashion Initiative Acc...
by africafashionguide



Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.