Two years ago, when Italian style magazine, L’Uomo Vogue, did a special issue with a focus on African fashion titled: Rebranding Africa, the world’s attention was diverted to what Nigeria nay Africa has to offer in terms of fashion.
In terms of fashion, Africa is already being dubbed the next Asia. Hence the United Nations did not hesitate to select African designers to work with it on its ‘Fashion for Development’ project. Two Nigerian designers, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, owner, LDA label and Folake Coker of Tiffany Amber, alongside other African designers, were selected to take part in the UN project. This opened a new vista for made in Nigeria dresses. And so, a real business opportunity for international fashion and home grown fashion retailers in Nigeria was opened up.
In addition, the very best of African fashion is currently on display at pop-up shop in Selfridges’ departmental store on Oxford Street in the United Kingdom. Participating designers are from Nigeria include: Agu, House of Silk, DOT Handbags, Odio Mimonet, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, Jewel by Lisa, Eki Orleans, Ituen Basi, and Tiffany Amber. The project is a good way to showcase authentic designs by talented African fashion designers. Likewise the International Herald Tribune Luxury conference is already bringing to fore Africa’s potential as producer and consumer of luxury goods.
With large international fashion retailers like Mango, Zara, Levi’s ,Gap, Woolworths, Mr Price, already active in most countries in Nigeria may be the next frontier for fashion retail. Already, international retailers, like Mango, are already targeting the emerging middle class in fast-growing countries on the continent. They are opening stores in cities like Lagos and Accra where there is a strong emerging middle class, growing infrastructure and political stability.
Africa has often served as a huge source of inspiration for fashion European fashion designers, especially its African wax and print, but China, India and Brazil now offer the greatest growth opportunities as emerging consumer markets. It is not a surprise that the Ankara fabric is taking centre stage at Selfridges and the idea for most designers is that the ready-to-wear Ankara is available at retail stores globally.
It is in line with these opportunities that the Nigerian fashion industry has to offer that the second edition of the African Fashion Reception, which was officially launched in Paris, France on the 22nd June, 2013 by Paco De Jaimes, President of the World Fashion Organization (WFO), will take place in Nigeria.
Last year, Nigeria was granted the rights to host the African Fashion Reception by the African Union (AU) and the World Fashion Organization (WFO). The African Fashion Reception which is meant to be held on rotational basis amongst African nations is one of the events scheduled by the World Fashion Organization (WFO) that will serve as a prelude to the World Fashion Week to be hosted in Paris in October, 2014.
With the theme, “Africa is the new inspiration in global fashion”, the event which is scheduled to hold in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State from 3rd – 5th July, 2014 is being hosted by the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation in collaboration with Branzuk Gold Ltd, Bayelsa State Government, and the World Fashion Organization.
The event will be a gathering of world renowned fashion designers, top models, investors, international media, the diplomatic community and several visitors from across the world in a celebration of cultural diversity expressed through Africa’s artistic fashion.
Already, twenty five top designers, ten members of board of governors of World Fashion Organization (WFO), World Fashion Week (WFW), international media from eighteen countries, fifteen models from Europe and America has confirmed their attendance. Several stakeholders in our cultural industries are also expected to attend.
“For us, the fashion industry is critical,” says Edem Duke, minister of culture, tourism and national orientation. “I can tell you that Nigerian Fashion is a frontline entrepreneurial project for us. The US government has AGOA and fashion and textile is a key element in it. So we must find the resources to be able to handle this particular creative initiative in our creative industry, to give them the opportunity to do something.”
“We hope The Africa Fashion Reception will attract global attention to Africa’s very rich and diversified dress culture,” says Merit Gordon Obua, President/Co-Founder, Branzuk Gold Limited and African Patron of the World Fashion Organization, “which can be explored as a catalyst for the social economic growth of the continent’s garment/textile industry. We also hope to expand the potential power of fashion as a tool for fighting poverty in Africa by creating wealth through the empowerment of women and youths in the various fashion vocations through training
The three days event will be rounded off with a gala night where President Goodluck Jonathan will be bestowed with an award of the ‘Most Enterprising and Investment Friendly President in Africa’ by the World Fashion Organization (WFO) in recognition of his tireless effort at creating employment opportunities for Nigerians through the continuous revamping of our textile industries. Also, the design of the proposed Fashion University to be sited in Nigeria is also expected to be unveiled by him at the event.