Handbags are not only an essential part of ladies dressing, but the crave for various designer products has thrown up a multi-million naira business.
Patience Iyaweh, owner of a boutique in Ikotun Egbe, Lagos, has been having a good time selling female dresses for five years.
But with the clothes market getting saturated, Iyaweh had to find alternative means of income to ensure her boutique stays afloat. And at the instance of her sister – in – law, who gave her the first consignment of designer bags to sell, things are looking up for Iyaweh. Within a space of three years, she has become a major distributor of designer handbags. “It was my sister-in-law who introduced me into the business. She’s based in London and sends me bags to sell in here,” she explained. From initial investment of N100, 000, Iyaweh’s business has grown to over N1 million.
For the likes of Iyaweh and several others involved in the handbag business, patronage cuts across different classes and categories of ladies- working class and students inclusive. Handbags now define the status and taste of the ladies.
As far as Constance Tolu, a bag freak is concerned, there is no substitute for high quality handbags. Gloria Akhile, a self-employed lady, agrees with Tolu, describing a handbag as the ultimate 21st century female item of desire.
The allure of designer handbags has gripped Nigerian ladies who love to show off the latest designs, making a fashion statement. such bags made by notable fashion labels in European countries and America are usually very expensive. When i visited the Palms Shopping Mall recently, a pure leather Louis Vuitton handbag had a prize tag of N65, 000, making it by far the most expensive handbag in town. But owing to its cost and the general believe that it is a more durable product in its category, the Gucci handbag, which costs about N5, 000, is the most preferred by ladies. Other designer bags include but not limited to Versace, Chanel, Dolce, and Gabanna, Prada, Fendi, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Tods, YvesSaintLaurent, YSL.
But for those who cannot afford these designer handbags, there is nothing to worry about. Iyaweh says they are also provided for in the form of fairly-used designer handbags known as tokunbo. With a dwindling economy and purchasing power, many women now buy used bags, which are equally brought in Europe and America. These are mainly sold at Yaba and Kantangua Market, located along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Lagos, although investigations revealed that some boutiques also display these type of wears as brand-new in their shops, thus, making it important for ladies to have the ability to identify genuine products. It is also believed that there are many imitations of designer handbags, making it imperative for ladies to be familiar with the various brands to avoid overpaying for a fake bag.
Rita Anyabuwa, an undergraduate of Igbinedion University, Benin, would rather buy a fairly-used designer handbag because of the price difference, which is usually about half the cost of a new one. “We have the first grade and second grade fairly-used designer handbag, the first grade are gently used bags while the second grade are most times worn out,” she explained.
Interestingly, not everybody loves carrying a handbag, Bola Olawole, a fresh graduate, sees carrying handbag as a big inconvenience. “Walking with a bag makes me uncomfortable. I prefer a purse to a bag,” she says.
Written By Portia Onwuyalim