The fashion industry has become more international, interconnected and interdependent than ever before, leaving Nigerian fashion brands with rather limited options. This can be attributed to the dawn of the digital age. Despite all of these advancements in the world to help inter-connectivity, some brands are still restricted by their geographical location. Countries like Georgia, Australia, and Brazil are faced with the issue of distance being a hindrance to their fashion industry. Nigeria has begun to make its mark in the international fashion market but how do we push or local brands further to achieve the optimum?
Breaking the geographical barrier is going to be hard but we can start with affordable transport to other countries. This almost seems like a luxury for the wealthy. Not everyone will obviously be able to travel to other countries but if flight plan doesn’t seem like what one has to use their lifesaving to do, then more fashion enthusiast will be encouraged to distribute their work. Online communication and technological advancements can fill in the gap where the physical visitation may not.
Lack of infrastructure, corruption and fraud have kept the country a little behind in the international market. Some individuals have lost hope in the Nigerian system due to bad image. For Nigerian fashion brands to progress in the international market, there must be a conscious effort to fight corruption both in the government and grassroots. With this, there would be more available infrastructure and the average citizen interested in fashion or whatever entrepreneurial endeavour, will be empowered.
A dysfunction in the flow of fashion ideas between the countries has made us more consumers, rather than makers. Many aspiring designers have decided to adopt the western ways instead of promoting our culture and style choices. Our designers have to be able to show their identity through their designs. This has gradually begun to slip into the western world; with the adoption of Ankara styles by some Hollywood fame. However, more can be done. Our movie industry is the third largest. We have to begin this promotion from home because ‘charity begins at home’.
The isolation from the international market can aid our designers in bringing something new and fresh to the fashion industry. This has to first begin with divulging from the western influences and embrace the uniqueness and beauty that the African environment has to offer. We have to begin promoting our creative styles and ideas in our nation before we can think of pushing it the international market. With that happening, we don’t even have to force them to notice the Nigerian fashion brands. They will on their own accord come running through the door.
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Written by Nkem Ikeh
Images: static1.squarespace.com, fashionghana.com, notjustalabel.com