The Nigerian Fashion Industry; The Way Forward

   Fashion is the popular style of clothes, hair, behaviour etc at a particular time that is likely to change. Fashion may vary considerably within a society according to age, social class, generation, occupation and geography as well as over time. If, for instance, and older person dresses according to the fashion of young people, he or she may look ridiculous in the eyes of both young and older people.

The fashion industry is a product of the modern age. Prior to the mid-19th century, most clothing was custom made. It was handmade for individuals, either as home production or on order from dressmakers and tailors.  By the beginning of the 20th century, the era of new technologies such as sewing machine, the rise of global capitalism and the development of the factory system of production and the proliferation of retail outlets such as department stores clothing had increasingly came to be mass- produced in standard sizes and sold at fixed prices.  Although the fashion industry developed first in Europe and America, today it is an international and highly globalized industry, with clothing often designed in one country, manufactured in another and sold world-wide.

The fashion industry has grown so big that countries compete among themselves to bring out the best in the fashion world.  Different countries use their local fabrics to make styles that others appreciate and even insist on getting that particular fabric to make their own styles and showcase amongst their peers. Using Nigeria as a case study, the Nigerian fashion industry has taken a whole new turn that our Ankara fabrics that was used as wrappers by most woman has become so popular because fashion designers have brought out the best of them. Dakova, Frank Oshodi and the likes of them stormed into the fashion world in this century to show Nigerians and the world at large the beauty of our Ankara thereby calling the attention of fashionistas and fashion designers to explore and show their talents.

In recent years, the like of Ituan Bassey, Folake Folarin–Coker (Tiffany Amber), Lanre Da-Silva Ajayi, V-Gold, Lisa Folawiyo(Jewel by Lisa), Data Okorodudu, to mention but a few have stormed the Nigerian fashion world with their beautiful designs competing among themselves to drive the Nigerian fashion market where it is today and also show the world that we too as Nigerians can make a difference. This has led to the emergence of new designers who are even better than their mentors but are still lying low. 

These people have made our local fabrics to be recognized far and wide because they have shown that our ANKARA can fit into any style whether English or different traditional attires. These days, we see most organizations, fashion designers even individuals organizing fashion shows like our counterparts do, thereby making a mark that is not all about the ‘agbadas’ and wrappers anymore. The amazing designs created using local fabrics and featured in both Nigeria and international fashion show has continued to wow audiences all over the world. Even the whites are spotted using the Ankara in their fashion shows.  Recently, a talent hunt (Garment Makers) is soon to come on air in our national television stations to help our youngsters develop their talent in fashion designing thereby, growing our economy and saving some Nigerians from this disease called unemployment.



Before now, fashion designing was seen as a job for the less privileged and illiterates, but today, it has been proven otherwise as many graduates are going into it day by day.  Some even went to read it in fashion schools abroad.  It is indeed a beautiful thing because it needs a lot of intelligence, talent, creativity and sense of beauty for one to be able to create a style, beautify it and deliver a neat work/job. It is not only the style that is the beauty of a dress, but the neatness first.

Apparently, our fashion designers are inventing stylish designs and daily basis both weird, sexy and simple ones. However, this is being challenged by some limitations.  In the meeting between Association of Fashion designers and the bank of industry, aired in one of the national television, most of the designers complained of the shortage of man power. According to them tailors are in short supply, the few ones available do not have proper training to translate their creations. Because the industry has been previously dominated by illiterates who were just “road side tailors”, who could not differentiate between knowing how to sow cloths/maintaining and running a fashion label. Some lamented on the issue of shortage of electricity supply which increases their over head cost.  These and other limitations can pose a major challenge for the growth and competition with their international counterparts.

For us to attain the height we wish in the fashion world, we need well trained man power with the adequate exposure needed.  This has made some of our designers establishing fashion schools. Some export man power but this cannot help our economy as we keep our youths unemployed and engage youths of other country who has gone far in national growth more that we have. We can achieve a lot if our electricity supply stabilizes.  Our designers cannot achieve their desired volumes without electricity supply because it helps them deliver neatly done jobs and produce larger quantity and deliver on time at affordable rate.  Our government have a lot to play in this. They can invest in the fashion industry by increasing and stabilizing electricity supply and invest in the designers through the bank industry so they can produce in a larger quantity at a cheaper rate and enable them export to the international market like their foreign counterparts do and also supply to the local market (boutique) so they don’t have to import.  This will help us to position our country where it is meant to be in the fashion world in terms of acceptability both locally and internationally therefore increasing our economy. This will also help our emerging designers buckle up and keep the fashion industry growing.

Written By Okpalike Chiamaka


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