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Published:October 2nd, 2007 02:08 EST
Upsurge of Female Fashion Shops in Buea

Upsurge of Female Fashion Shops in Buea

By Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo

Long before the establishment of the University and other Institutes of Higher learning in Buea, the town owes its historical legacy to having been the capital of Southern Cameroons and presently the capital of the South West Province of Cameroon.  In those days Buea hardly experienced water shortages and the cost of living was moderate to the inhabitants.

But recently, it has been realized that the standard and cost of living is almost raised comparable only to that of our economic capital Douala in the Littoral province.

One of the reasons for this upsurge in living cost has been greatly attributed to urbanization. Prominent among the activities related to urbanization is the construction of mini-fashion shops along the main street of Buea called Molyko.

Of interest is the fact that about 90% of these mini-fashion shops trade in female wears. Some of the reasons could be attributed to the notion that our Cameroonian ladies always love looking good so their thirst for new wears increases daily. This increase in demand consequently provokes an increase in supply hence the high demand for feminine dresses and eventually the rise in mini-fashion shops. Other factors that militate in favour of this increase in female mini shops are the cheapness of the dresses and quick turn over in profit margins as well as the high population ratio among the female folks in Buea.

Ironically, two-thirds of these shop assistants are men. When questioned about this apparent anomaly one of the respondents, Mr. Hollywood Priscott, the male shop assistant of the Hollywood fashion shop, said that trading between opposite sex is easier pointing to an example of a hairdresser who is a man having more customers in his salon than a lady hairdresser. Another male shop assistant in H & M Eye-Catch Fashion shop contended that it is a business strategy which has seldom been known to fail. In other words that is one of the secrets of their success.

Meanwhile, Narcisse of Narcisse Fashion shop says, apart from making money from his business, fashion design, particularly to girls, is a passion, a gift he would not let go. One of his interests in mini-fashion business is to give the girls in Molyko an opportunity to look modern; indeed to actually look like stars. So he actually goes an extra mile to supply designer wears such as Zara, D&G, Channel, Louis Vuitton etc. Moreover, according to Narcisse there is something for everyone irrespective of their size or shape that makes them look seductive and attractive. Pointing at a dress hanging in his shop Narcisse said, "The yellow dress is Tyra Banks, and I am the first here in Buea to implement Tyra style of dressing to ladies.”

When I interviewed some other ladies about their opinion on female wear, two of them, Charlotte and Helen, were of the opinion that they feel good in new cloth and will always want to buy what they don’t have yet. The more new dresses they buy the more they realize that new dresses are in mode so the drive to continuously buy more dresses takes hold of their purses.

Secondly, each dress design has a particular period and, after that period, one is already tired of that dress or sometimes it simply gets old. The short life span of female dresses in terms of fashion age compels most ladies to change their wardrobes as fast as the men change their bottles of beer in Molyko, Buea.