by Tamilore Oladipo
Note: This article is purely self-gratuitous and indulgent. Read my ranting at your own risk.
It has occurred to me, not for the first time that the fashion industry in Nigeria needs A LOT of work. I know some people will say that we need time to develop and big brands need to make way for smaller ones, but damn it this is the 2010’s: the Internet is free (ish) and every man’s land.
Going to a university that encourages entrepreneurship has changed my outlook on a lot of things and one of them is how vast the Nigerian market really is and how many people are looking for brands offering affordable and good quality clothing that will not take 20 shipping days to get here. I won’t be getting technical here because I’ve barely scratched the surface of the work that goes into creating and marketing products, but there is one thing I understand: The clothing market in Nigeria needs to step up.
Every single successful fashion-preneur that is consistent in Nigeria (think Deola Sagoe or Lisa Folawiyo) is successful because they understand who they are marketing to. They also understand how much money their market has. This is so important. There are no actual originally Nigerian brands that market to the public of lower-middle to upper-middle class teenagers or young adults who are not working or getting any money- outside of pocket money they are lucky to get in the first place- and therefore cannot afford to go on a shopping spree at the mall, buy the “latest” shoes or tees or even baseball hats on their own. Anything that caters to that market is definitely not made by Nigerians and now, even that has come back to bite us in the ass because of the high exchange rates that our currency is facing these days.
Why can’t I buy clothes that are made in the country and therefore affordable but also cool-looking (no orange-sleeved, neon-pink work shirts, seriously) and long-lasting? Is that too much to ask for? Why should I buy a tee shirt for N17000 from Orange Culture when I should be able to get cheaper alternatives without looking at online stores from foreign retailers? Why is it always “go designer or go home” in this country? Seriously, I’m gonna do something about it (it’s in my projections *wink wink*) but everyone else has to step up to the plate and fix this. Asian brands are wizening up and making it so that they have a monopoly on the market that is God-given to them in the first place. So let’s debunk the admittedly valid belief that we are always the last to the party. It’s annoying and Forever21 doesn’t deliver to Nigeria.
Of course, a lot of this frustration is due to the fact that I am in a perpetual state of broke-ness and still rely on my parents and extraneous aunties and uncles for money. Seriously, though, where are the Forever21’s of Nigeria with clothes that won’t break the bank and won’t skyrocket in price because of currency conversion? The economy is not doing anyone any favours, least of all those of us that have no income to speak of. My parents do not give me money for clothes shopping anymore, stating that I can manage with what I have, mostly because I stopped growing when I was 16 and can still fit into clothes I had when I was 14. It really sucks. All I’m saying is, someone give these small Instagram brands who manage to do the work and do it well, but like not super expensively, some funding and exposure.
Tamilore Oladipo is a Mass Communication student at Pan-Atlantic University with interests in blogging, digital marketing and music.