by Lekan Olanrewaju
As the self-professed “colossal” 2012 edition of the This Day/Arise Magazine Fashion Week draws closer, it would seem not all parties share the same excitement about the fashion extravaganza that’s been visible in online space and the fashion community in general. In a several tweet long rant, which resulted in him “trending” in Lagos state, designer and Nigerian fashion pioneer Emmy Collins made known his feelings about the upcoming fashion event scheduled to hold from the 6th to the 11th of March, 2012.
ARISE Magazine founder, Nduka Obaigbena says: “There has been a surge of interest from around the world including major UK and American brands this year, following our successful inaugural event last year, which is why we have decided to give even more designers an opportunity to participate. The world has recognised that Nigeria has much to offer in the way of vibrancy and extraordinary talent in abundance making it the cultural capital of Africa. Once more we are proud to be associated with nurturing new designers from the vast continent – and continuing our support of those who are more well-known in Nigeria and in the Diaspora”. Emmy Collins, on the other hand, would rather have you believe, that the show is “monumental BS”. He started with a tweet that stated “Just read about d Arise Fashion Week in Lagos with 71 designers & am scratching my head wondering why we believe QUANTITY equals QUALITY”.
Many would have agreed with him at this point, as the announcement that the show would have 77 designers is one which has been met with simultaneous excitement and skepticism. However, it quickly became clear he had other grouses with the event and its organisers. He went on to say that This Day “is the bane of fashion in Nigeria”. He then expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of buyers in attendance of fashion shows in Nigeria, stating that without that, the shows become nothing more than a “party” as opposed to “businesses”. He made more controversial statements including that he would “rather eat worm” than participate in This Day/ARISE Magazine Fashion Week and that Ghanaian/British designer Ozwald Boateng would “never return” to the event because he has too much respect for his brand . He then stated that he would be giving a comprehensive interview on the issue “soon”.
It is no secret that fashion weeks around the world are structured differently than what we have in Nigeria. For one, it would be impossible for someone who didn’t apply for an invite as a buyer or member of the press to simply purchase a ticket and find their way into the ongoing London Fashion Week, or the just concluded New York fashion Week. In Nigeria, however, such is the case, and it’s little more than a concert, to the public at least. Granted, the industries are at different stages, and as such cannot be handled in the same manner.
For example, many have stated that there aren’t that many “buyers” in Nigeria to begin with, as department stores aren’t exactly commonplace here. But what say you? Does Emmy Collins have a point, and should the organizers make more of an active effort to invite these buyers to fashion shows? Or is he just someone who refuses to accept that others might have use for something he sees as a waste of time?