The Complex Expression of the Nigerian Fashion Industry And Its Emerging Appreciation
Lights! Camera!! Action!!! Buba, Isiagu, and Agbada are back and better in a revolutionised manner.
The Nigerian fashion industry has embraced and absorbed all elements that have formed its very being and still staying true to self and identity. This has constantly raised an eyebrow on questions on what is African fashion. This is because most Nigerian works are seemingly inspired by the western and European essence of fashion which suits their identity, environment and different seasons. Despite this, the rich complexity and mystification of Nigerian fashion are the backbone of the industry’s incurring universal rise.
Gifted with a vision of bubbly and self-thriving sufficient designers in Nigeria, they have carved a niche for themselves in and outside their homes. A brilliant example of this is Kenneth Ize, one of the first Nigerians to be stocked at Browns.
The grand exotic makeup of the industry keeps creating the right brands and making headway though some may hold their reservations on the true definition of African/Nigerian fashion since the creative abilities and muse are highly vested in the European notion of “fashion”.
In a bid to be true to self and promote the African/Nigerian fashion, some in the industry like Ituen Basi, have taken it upon themselves to promote $4.7billion Nigeria fashion industry and print by sticking to indigenous resources in terms of using Ankara and other resources made in Nigeria which spiked the Ankara boom and the craze of the multiplicity of crafting with Ankara.
This public display of everything Nigerian fashion has trended the use of Nigerian or African prints and motifs, spreading to having Western and European designers enthused about using Ankara. Perhaps, this has been a source of the occasional spotlighting of celebrities wearing Ankara at outings and special events. This influence of such gives a pat on the back to Nigerian fashion and its rise which is creating a pedestal for itself in the hallmark of the fashion industry.
Fashion in Nigeria has indeed changed its clothing over time and is still doing so but this time better showing no sign of slowing down rather through the self-driven nature of inspired designers; it flourishes in what it sets out to.
We have seen Nigerian designers become audacious in taking bold steps to reflect the country in positive ways, showing off our culture and innovativeness.
Whether it’s Western-infused Nigerian apparel or African-infused western wear, Nigerian fashion firstly is the self-expression of culture, customs, and the people before anything else.
This brings many to the believed perception that “oyibo people” are stealing our fashion due to the use of Ankara materials. An instance is Stella Jean, an Italian designer who uses Ankara fabrics with great appreciation from her customers.
According to T. S. Eliot, “immature poets imitate, mature poets steal.” As a result, many have accused her and her counterparts of stealing or copying our Ankara. Yet turn a blind eye to Nigerian designers who use satin, organza, marble velvet that are well attributed as foreign?
Perhaps, the answer lies in Reina_de_las_fabricas words, “The fashion industry does not have any loyalty especially with fabrics”. Having the playground of fabrics depends on and styles and how it appeals to the designer’s individual imagination birthing a revolution in fashion which Nigeria is taking a queue in.
Nigerian designers like Style Temple have not been seen using Ankara in her collections which pushes her to an international audience as she works with her choice of appeal.
The Nigerian audience is, in turn, appealed by what our home-grown designers offer that celebrities and influencers glide the red carpet to various Nigerian hosted events, being boldly dressed by Nigerian designers whose names they proudly acclaim.
It is undisputable the growing appreciation of the Nigerian fashion industry with revolutionary styles as the union of fabrics, cultures, and ideas, helps shift the orientation of Nigeria fashion. This mixing of all that is breathtaking has led to the international beam gained so far.