Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2012

Document Type



International Affairs

First Advisor

Prof. Lorna Christoff


This paper explores the impact fashion has on the development of countries in Africa. Since the dependent variable ‘development’ and the independent variable ‘fashion’ are both terms with ambiguous meanings, this is further explained and reconciled in the paper. Development is measured in this context by an increase in the quality of life. Fashion in this context is defined as any form of adornment used to decorate the body, in particular textiles, jewelry, and handbags. My hypothesis is that fashion can have both a negative and a positive impact on development in Africa; however, the negative outcomes can be corrected to create a positive impact from fashion leading to development in Africa. The findings are such that the hypothesis is true, particularly on a micro scale in less developed countries, moving towards a macro scale in more developed countries. The countries researched will include various African countries all across the continent with examples of fashion impacting development. The approach to viewing fashion as a catalyst for development will be viewed through the two lenses of economic and cultural implications. The pros and cons of using fashion as a mechanism to creating development will be laid out, in addition to any implications in the future for how to create development in other African countries through fashion. My values of caring, compassion, equity, respect, and love will be used to guide any concluding decisions on the application of fashion to spur development. The cases compared will be the two organizations Africa Bags and Dsenyo which are based out of the agrarian South African country Malawi. These two different fashion businesses will be compared and contrasted as to which model best suits development and how any negative results can be mitigated.