Ita-Giwa, Alakija, Thomas-Fahm, others Grace IVLP exchange programme
Nigeria’s pioneer fashion designer, Shade Thomas-Fahm; Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Folorunsho Alakija and former Chairman of Access Bank, Gbenga Oyebode recently joined the U.S. Consulate General, Claire Pierangelo in honoring 20 emerging, mid-career designers who recently participated in the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), a flagship U.S. government exchange program.
Through the virtual IVLP project titled, Promoting Economic Growth and Trade in the Fashion Industry, the 20 participants had the unique opportunity to connect with their U.S. counterparts and enriched their knowledge of entrepreneurship, business development, and innovation in the U.S. fashion industry.
The goal of the IVLP is to provide firsthand knowledge about U.S. society, culture, and politics while cultivating lasting professional relationships. By introducing current and emerging leaders to their professional counterparts in U.S. communities, the IVLP creates opportunities for business, professional, and academic collaboration, and offers direct exposure to American systems and values.
In her remarks, Consul General, Pierangelo, explained that the U.S. Mission created this program focused on the fashion industry to strengthen economic and commercial ties between both countries through sustained engagement with creative industries centered in Lagos. “In the last few years, both countries have witnessed growing cultural ties. This fashion IVLP project is a fantastic example of our strategic economic outreach to Nigeria’s creative industries to further strengthen economic ties through culture and fashion.” At the event, the 20 participants exhibited some of their top-quality designs and fashion accessories with Pierangelo touring each exhibit and learning about their experiences during the project. She highlighted their commitment to promoting economic growth and trade in the fashion industry by empowering local fashion designers to not only thrive in Nigeria’s fashion industry, but also prepare for the global fashion marketplace.
Top designers in the industry, creative industry leaders, fashion buyers and investors attended the reception hosted by U.S. Chargé d’affaires, Kathleen FitzGibbon and Pierangelo. All participants were awarded certificates of participation as they exhibited some of their top designs and accessories.
One of the participants, Omotere Adeola said she was nominated for the three-week virtual programme and it proved very enlightening. “We had the opportunity to meet foreign investors and designers and they gave us ideas on how to improve our brands. We were taught to have a niche, remain affordable and maintain good quality. It was a great experience and I’d recommend it everyone. I was nominated without even knowing so I’ll tell anyone to keep doing what they are doing because people are noticing.” Adeola who is a trained accountant said she decided to diversify and be her own boss.
President of the IVLP AA, Adetoun Tade, a former recipient herself, advised the fresh participants to soar on a global scale and put to good use all they were taught.