Almost two years ago Katib Iscandari and his wife Sia and daughter said goodbye to their life in U.K. They repatriated to Sierra Leone. In the 10 years since the end of its civil war hundred of thousands of Sierra Leoneans have returned home. Though many of the nation’s most skilled and educated citizens still reside in the UK and the US each year individuals and families like the Iscandris make their way back home.
Although Iscandari is an architect and broker, he has just opened a retail African fabric outlet in Freetown that serves the city’s budding middle class and expatriate community. He says moving back to home has allowed him to pursue his childhood love for fashion. While the store primarily sells just the unsown fabrics, Iscandari is planning a children’s fashion show that will allow hime to oversee designs made by kids with fabric of their own choice. The children will then model their own creations in Amaani’s fashion show. Iscandari says that it is important to encourage an appreciation for African prints in the young.
Currently Amaani Designs sources fabric from wholesalers like Da Viva, Vlisco, and GTP from Ivory Coast, Ghana, and as far away as Holland. However he says that it is much easier to get products from Europe than neighboring countries in Africa. ECOWAS trade regulations have a long way to go in facilitating trade between its member countries.