The fashion industry in Nigeria has been thriving in the past decade with our clothes being featured in the international market and on big international personalities. While this is a good development in the industry, most of these clothes are highly priced and fashionable people with humble incomes cannot afford to look good without breaking the bank. It is all very well that we have good luxury brands but what about the average university student wanting to look stylish on a budget? Most of these clothing can be as expensive as 50,000 for one item, now this is more than the average student gets as pocket money in a month.
At the moment the Nigerian fashion industry seems to be targeting only those with six figure salaries. What happens to the middle and lower strata of the society? What happens to the people who do not attend red carpet events every weekend? What happens to people who do not wear graffiti tees? People who need smart affordable clothes for work? It is for these reasons, international brands such as HM, Topshop, Forever21 and Zara were created, so stylish ‘regular’ clothes are available to everyone at all prices.
With the great talent we have in Aba, the Nigerian fashion industry needs to sit up and recognise this problem. With a little brushing up on quality, they can really produce wonderful clothes that can be branded and placed in stores at a very reasonable price. Primark in the UK has its clothes flying off its racks by the minute because they mass produce clothes in the latest trends at affordable prices. Even giving student discounts to those able to display their ID cards at the checkout counter. This is what the fashion industry in Nigeria seems to have overlooked. As they say in Nigeria “all na packaging”. Producers of these clothes made in the market can be well managed, regulated and given proper labels and there will be a gradual turn around.
Fabrics can be and are produced in the industries in Aba this is why these clothes are affordable, and with adequate manpower in this industry this could work seamlessly. PHCN has been a factor in high prices of clothes in the fashion industry. If only the government would sit up and notice that the fashion industry is growing very fast and help by perhaps coming up with ways to subsidize these generator costs. . Perhaps one day Nigerian fashion designers would collaborate with these retail outlets the way Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Comme des Garcons, Jimmy Choo and Lanvin have all collaborated with H&M to create stylish affordable clothes for the masses.
People with humble earnings shouldn’t have to go far to get proper everyday clothes or rely on the possibility of a friend going abroad to purchase cheap clothes, then coming back to Nigeria tripling the price and selling it which ends up being expensive in the long run. All because of the need to find ‘regular’ good quality clothes in Nigeria. I added good quality in the last sentence because it isn’t enough for a designer to decide to start making affordable clothes if the clothes are going to be substandard and tacky.
It is also for this reason that big names on the international fashion scene have affordable brands targeted at the younger generation on a budget. Giorgio Armani has Armani Exchange, Moschino has Cheap and Chic, Alexander McQueen has McQ. One must commend luxury brands like Jewel by Lisa for taking this initiative and created the J Label which is a more affordable label under Jewel by Lisa. It is accessible to young people who are fashionable but on a budget. There are also new labels like Babushka which are trying to fill this gap.