I reside in the largest city in Africa, a city that never sleeps with an ever growing population of 20 million inhabitants; the city of hustlers, the land of opportunities, the cultural authority.
From Afrobeats to Nollywood to Fashion, these industries all have a home in lagos and have taken their place on a world stage, but in the past decade, the rich Nigerian Fashion Culture has come to the fore.
In the early & mid 2000s, the voguish lagosians once visited the orthodox tailors in a bid to stay trendy wearing asoebi’s made in brocade lace, aso-oke, Ankara and any textile that celebrates the rich African heritage. The industry wasn’t considered fancy or an occupation for the educated; it was overlooked by many and harnessed by a few, that reshaped the industry which lead to the rise of a new generation of fashion aficionado comprising of designers, skilled tailors, stylists, editors, photographers, illustrators, Fashion Lawyers (like me!), Influencers redefining the thriving industry.
The heightened interest in fashion has fuelled an increase in the number of professionals and investors in the industry.Within a decade, Nigeria’s fashion industry has grown in size attracting global attention. Going by GDP data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the “textile, apparel, and footwear” sector has averaged growth of 17% since 2010. This growth has been fuelled by an augment in demand but also fairly by unprecedented initiatives that continue to edge Nigeria into the global fashion sphere. Events such asthe Fashion Finest Africa, Lagos Leather Fair, Lagos Fashion Week, the Africa Fashion Week, and the Arise Fashion Week have championed this movement through their anticipated annual runway shows.
Design success on the local and international level, does not indicate an automatic modification in the buying habits of Nigerians many still favour high-end clothing from Europe and the US though a fair fraction of Nigerians prefer to patronise local fashion professionals to make made-to-fit outfits and the popular asoebi’s for the multi-billion naira wedding industry, than pay a high amount to foreign brands.
This might be as a result of a primary limiting factor that the market is being flooded by low-end work, creating a dearth of skilled practitioners.
The sector has grown rapidly in the past decade, creating opportunities for individuals in the country and it still has an incredible chance at growth in the next decade if managed strategically by addressing challenges across the value chain, from farmer and textile mills that provide raw materials, to manufacturing, and even to marketing and logistics. Furthermore, if the industry is invested in purposefully and sustainably, it has incredible potential to empower severalindividuals and in the long run vastly improve the Nigerian economy.