Does The Nigerian Fashion Industry Really Need Just Another Luxury Brand?

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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.

 

***Kelechi Arinze***

 

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11 comments

  1. Yes while your article states the obvious you forget that the reason a company like primark thrives on mass production is due to cheap child labour which was exposed.

    If that was allowed to happen especially in Nigeria trust that our people will take advantage of the fact that some kids are not able to go.to school or their families can’t afford education. In a country where the government can’t sponsor kids.

    In terms of the elite it is the unnecessary thirst for the finer things in life that allows for the constant want for expensive stuff. It shows in the whole everyone looking for better life on the island craze. So someone has seen that niché in the market and has decided to.go.for it. Or exploit.

    So the question is, will you purchase?

  2. Love d article but 2wards d end it started sounding like an add 4 Jewel by Lisa… While there’s nothing wrong with that, it takes a little away from d point u’re trying to make.
    Apart from d major problem of electricity, another huge problem with mass production is d producers. Trying 2 make stuff in large quantity in dis country is like trying 2 catch a shark with hook&line. Even 2 produce 100pcs of an item will take 4ever & u spend so much on phonecalls & transport so much so that wen u’re done, d price will be high so u can turn a profit.
    Now, u should realize that 90% of s items sold @ d retail chains in d UK r made in India & or China. Try 2 do that in Nigeria & customs will frustrate u almost 2 d point of giving up! Funding is anoda huge problem as hardly any financial institution will fund a start-up & trust me, its a huge capital venture. How I know all this? In d last one year, I’ve been trying 2 produce a low-range bag/accessory line that still hasn’t taken off. Its a bad situation & only d grace of God will see us thru…

    1. It took me 3+yrs. to setup my factory. I am familiar with the many frustrations and i am still struggling with many of them. My factory can easily employ 110 people from cleaners to machinists, packers etc but i am left with 28 staff that i am struggling to pay.

      As a young Nigerian who risked it all to create employment and make “made in Nigeria”, qualty products for the masses, i come close to quitting every fortnight or so. ( do the math that by 3yrs, smh)

      Nigeria is a land of many frustrations and opportunities in equal measure if not more. My advice is @DidiR, Persevere and regardless of what the system throws at you, keep moving .That, my friend is the only way ‘WE’ can make things happen. I feel your frustrations. its the same as mine but lets keep walking. One day, we will get there…..Insha Allah.

  3. Well said. But the truth is Nigeria, its people and its economy are not ready for this. I as an individual have had this issue on my mind now for a while but its something that is beautiful to think about but EXTREMELY hard to put into effect. Whoever takes on the challange needs to be ready and willing to take on all the trouble n heartache and pressure and stress and capital to start such a venture. It would take a lot of money to start, and the bleakness of the future of such a business is enough to scare someone………atleast it has scared me for a while now. But my prayer is that we will get there sooner than later.

  4. i totally agree with you…….sometimes i see some clothes made with normal ankara being sold at the price of gold…WTH!!!…i cant help wondering if they are being serious at all.

  5. Well I agree with the other points made… Clearly you failed to do your research. The business model you’re suggesting would be next to impossible in Nigeria esp because of all your overhead costs (you forget that we are still suffering from lack of infrastructure-namely, NO LIGHT, in this country).

    Though I applaud JBL’s recent foray into this–her ‘J-label’ is still over-priced with clothes that cost up to 50k. Tell me, how this differs from JBL? It’s not like the quality of her clothes is that great or innovative anyways.

    And lets be real, younger designers are already doing this! Babushka is certainly one of them, but before her even there was Grey, ROF, and Zebra Living. It should be commended!

  6. I agree with the writer, Nigerian designers over look the regular people. They seem to be oblivious of how much more sales they would record if they made clothes for regular peple.

    On the flip side, I am a sucker for style and I have found some up coming Nigerian designers who have not it the spotlight yet. They make regular T-shirts (Elevatd minds) , some even make shoes and traditional wears and s tuff.

  7. Hello There!

    I am a mass market garment manufacturer and we have recently started producing several styles of clothing of excellent quality for Nigerians. My target market are students, most low to medium income earners and their families.
    We started operations earlier this year and we are currently marketing our products and attending various exhibitions to get our products out there.

    Nigerians are funny characters. They complain about not having affordable high quality local brands but they question why your products have such (an attractive) selling prices. I think the Nigerian will rather hear a dress costs 30k than hear 3k. Anyway, that’s a rant for another day…

    Our blank tees start from 450 Naira and printed tees range from 900N to 3,200N. Beautiful long skirts, Aline knee lenght skirts, tunics, kids tee’s, Nightwear, dresses etc range from 400 Naira to 5,000 Naira.
    We have an installed capacity to produce 1500 – 2300 t-shirts a day!
    Check out our blog (sorry updates are coming up very soon). http://www.kanowrie.blogspot.com

    For any further information or just to comment, Send an email or drop a message on our blog….

    Thanks.

    F

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