In late June 2023, the Africa Reimagined team attended the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo (CAETE) to provide an opportunity for some of Africa’s most innovative and respected brands to test the Chinese market. 

This was our third time attending the CAETE, and in our view, this year’s CAETE was the most successful yet with the largest number of buyers and professional visitors in attendance ever, a 70% increase in the number of exhibitors, and a massive 166% increase in the types of commodities on display. 

Indeed, we ourselves noticed that there as a noticeable increase in the number of high-quality food, beverage, and skincare products on display. This reflects the efforts of African leaders and the Chinese government in recent years to boost and diversify Africa’s exports to China – especially agricultural-based products. And their efforts are working – the volume of agricultural trade between China and Africa has increased by 33.3 billion yuan in 2012 to 58.6 billion yuan in 2022.

But Africa is a continent capable of exporting more than oils, minerals, and food – we can do more. Enter – fashion. 

The African textile and apparel sector thrived before transatlantic slavery, continued in certain countries such as Egypt, and was briefly revived in newly independent colonies before structural adjustments of the 1990s. It has the potential to experience another revival today, with Africa’s fashion brands not only reflecting Africa’s innovation and manufacturing capability but also acting as excellent ambassadors for the continent’s business sector as a whole. 

Today, African luxury fashion brands are regularly taking over the catwalks of Paris, New York, Milan, and Tokyo too. They are featured in iconic Hollywood films such as Black Panther, and artists from Beyoncé to Michelle Obama wear them with pride and distinction.

So, if these brands can take over the rest of the world, then why not China? Indeed, their successes could create inroads into the Chinese market for brands in other sectors, such as beauty, homeware, and even services.

Based on the outcomes of our attendance at the CAETE, the answer is a clear yes!

This year, we worked with 12 luxury African fashion and jewellery brands from 7 different African countries – including Maxhosa, Larry Jay, Jessica Jane, Artclub and Friends, Taibo Bacar, Mafi Mafi, Kunjina, Nkanda Yatu, Millie Collines, Pepper Row, Yenae and ZAAF – to showcase their incredible clothing in our super modern, sleekly designed “Africa Reimagined” booth at the CAETE. We also created the opportunity for our fashion brands to join a fashion show and business match-making events, which led to great exposure and business interest.

Now, we won’t tell you exactly how much they made – that’s for them to know – but let’s just say we were impressed and they left China smiling – despite the fact that their products were – in some cases – ten times the price of other products on display at the CAETE. This was because the attendees were blown away by the quality and uniqueness of the fashion items on display. 

This explains something that is often misunderstood about the Chinese market. It has been widely reported that since the Covid-19 pandemic, Chinese consumers have increasingly been choosing local fashion brands over foreign ones, and the Chinese market is slowing down.

However, it is important to emphasize that even if the Chinese consumer market is growing more slowly than before, the luxury consumer end is still growing rapidly. Ultimately, what Chinese consumers are craving when it comes to fashion is something unique to ensure they can stand out from their peers.  Hence, Chinese fashion is currently unique in China because European and North American fashion brands have dominated China’s luxury fashion market since China opened its markets to the rest of the world. 

And this is what African fashion has in abundance – a boldness and distinctiveness that sets it apart from European and North American fashion; echoing to why African fashion brands have recently achieved so much success across the globe. 

This gives African fashion brands a huge advantage – especially for early movers. This combined with a detailed understanding of China’s consumer market and ecosystem, for example, its use of e-commerce, as well as utilizing China’s innovative marketing, advertising, and logistics tools, can all contribute to Africa’s fashion industry taking a slice of China’s massive US$ 287.3 Billion luxury market. 

So, keep your eyes peeled for an African fashion takeover! It’s coming – and we plan to accelerate it.

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Trevor Lwere

Research and Coordination Analyst

Trevor Lwere is a Research and Coordination analyst at Development Reimagined with a background in Economics and Global Affairs. His interests include geopolitics, geoeconomics and economic development. He holds a Masters’ degree in Global Affairs fro Tsinghua University and a BA Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

Yujie Shi

 Policy and Research Analyst

Yuejie Shi is a Research and Data Analyst at Development Reimagined with a special focus on Global Trade and China-Africa Trade.

Sena Voncujovi

Research Analyst

Sena Voncujovi is a research and policy analyst at Development Reimagined. Voncujovi specializes in global health issues, Japan-Africa relations, and China-Africa relations. He served as the Editor-in-chief of Peking University’s Africa Think Tank (PATT) during his master’s in International Relations & Politics as a Yenching Scholar. Voncujovi previously advised the Ghanaian government for the 2019 TICAD 7 Conference held in Yokohama. He is the co-founder of Jaspora, Tokyo’s largest community of African diasporan diplomats, changemakers, professionals, students, and business people.

Rugare Mukanganga


Rugare is an economist at Development Reimagined, providing economic and data analysis support across projects.

Yixin Yu

Research Analyst

Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion.

Ivory Kairo

Communications Support

Ivory is a Kenyan lawyer with experience in policy research and analysis. She also supports the communications team through liaising with African brands, creating graphic content and other external outputs at AR. Ivory speaks English, Swahili and French

Huiyi Chen

Partnership Development

Huiyi Chen is a Research and Coordination Analyst on China-Africa cooperation and leading the engagement with Chinese stakeholders at Development Reimagined.

Jinyu Chen

Research Analyst | Paris, France

Jinyu is a dual-degree Master’s student at Sciences Po & Peking University.  At Africa Reimagined, Jinyu produces research to foster better mutual understanding between African clients and Chinese consumers. 


Jade Scarfe

Communications Support
Jade is a research analyst and communication support at Africa Reimagined. She supports with liaising with African brands, creating content and gathering China market research.

Yike Fu

China-Africa Policy Analyst

Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.

Rosie Wigmore

Project Manager | Beijing, PRC

Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.

Leah Lynch

Deputy Director | Beijing, PRC

Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.

Hannah Ryder

Founder and CEO 

Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE’s International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.


We support our clients throughout the whole onboarding and sales process on Chinese e-commerce platforms including registration, international and China-mainland logistics, storage, payment transfers, and marketing & advertising strategies.

In addition to supporting our clients with onboarding onto e-commerce platforms or developing their own WeChat stores, we also have our own Africa Reimagined e-commerce stores for our clients to sell on.
Kiliselect on WeChat Stores: Africa Reimagined launched on Kiliselect, which is a foremost e-commerce store for premium African products in China and the Chinese branch of East Africa’s Kilimall. It houses brands from a range of sectors including food and beverage, skincare and homeware. Kiliselect is found on WeChat Stores, which gives the store access to 1.2 billion active WeChat users across China.
JD-Worldwide: Next year, Africa Reimagined will open the first ever flagship, pan-Africa e-commerce store for premium African brands on JD-Worldwide, the cross-border e-commerce platform of China’s largest retailer, It will sell exclusively luxury African brands from a range of sectors including, fashion and jewellery, food and beverage, skincare. and homeware.