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Nigerian fashion industry requires investment

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By Mercy Kelani

To revive this industry, the key lies in tackling underlying issues.

The dormant Nigerian fashion industry lies dormant, craving urgent investment, capital infusion, and skills development, making it a potential powerhouse ready to be unleashed. Nigeria’s presence in the fashion and textile industry holds tremendous importance both culturally and economically. Its substantial contribution to Africa’s $31 billion fashion and textile industry amounts to approximately 15%. During its pre-colonial era, Nigeria’s history flourished with a thriving textile sector that encompassed a range of established practices including weaving, spinning, dyeing, ginning, and carding. The country boasted more than 250 operational factories, each operating at a capacity of over 50%. This impressive feat positioned Nigeria as Africa’s third-largest textile producer, ranking just below Egypt and South Africa.

In addition to the government, this entity emerged as the most extensive labour provider, employing a staggering 350,000 individuals directly and creating numerous additional employment opportunities. Nigeria’s textile industry, which was once thriving, has witnessed a downward spiral due to negligence and inherent problems related to expensive production in a cutthroat market. Consequently, there has been a substantial and enduring decline in job opportunities. To revive this industry, the key lies in tackling underlying issues such as the scarcity of energy, the imperative to update methods, and the growth of essential infrastructure like e-commerce.

Nigeria possesses an immense amount of creativity.

For global success, it is crucial for the industry to prioritize both automation and energy efficiency. During a discussion with Omoyemi Akerele, the creator of Lagos Fashion Week, the true significance of the fashion industry’s influence on society becomes evident. Akerele highlights the intricate relationship between fashion and the larger community, expressing that individuals often overlook the fact that beyond the catwalk lies a vast network of individuals, a complete ecosystem comprising of supply chains, production processes, and the creation of new fashion lines. Akerele emphasizes the impact of fashion that goes beyond creativity, shedding light on its significance in the realms of economy and employment generation.

Throughout history, Nigeria’s fashion sector has served as a significant contributor to job creation. Nevertheless, it currently finds itself at a pivotal moment, necessitating deliberate investments that will unleash its complete economic prowess. Although this industry remains in its embryonic phase, it represents an untapped treasure trove, waiting to be discovered. Nigeria possesses an immense amount of creativity that is frequently disregarded and seldom cultivated. Within the rich tapestry of Nigerian culture lies a wealth of expertise in the production of customized garments and the lively Aso Ebi fabrics. The country’s cultural roots are embodied in these elements, paving the way for Nigeria’s fashion industry to stand out globally.

This industry leads in promoting eco-friendly production methods.

With a focus on sustainable craftsmanship and African wax prints, this industry leads the charge in promoting eco-friendly production methods and aligning with the growing trend of environmentally conscious fashion. Nigeria’s fashion industry has gained recognition globally due to its ability to draw inspiration from the traditional clothing of different ethnic communities. This has ignited the creativity and innovation of both local and international designers. One remarkable example is the Nigerian-owned fashion label, Clan, which made a significant impact at the renowned Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Showcase in 2014.

Also, in 2022, the Africa Fashion exhibition debuted at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. A year later, it moved to the Brooklyn Museum, where it continues to highlight the finest African designs. By championing local creativity and ethical production methods, the. Nigerian fashion sector has the potential to establish its own unique space. This would further strengthen its position in the global market, draw international interest and investments, generate higher export earnings, and foster economic growth. The industry’s progress heavily relies on the government’s support, which holds great significance.

Related Article: Africa at the forefront of Fashion Industry

Additionally, to meet this demand, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bank of Industry (Bol) have made noteworthy efforts. Previously, the Nigerian government disregarded the fashion industry, but there has been a shift in this attitude. In 2018, initiatives such as the 1 Billion Naira fund from the Bank of Industry for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the industry exemplify this change. The Nigerian fashion realm encompasses more than mere garments; rather, it encompasses economic empowerment, cultural conservation, and attaining global acknowledgment. By making calculated investments in energy, education, and honing skills, while also efficiently confronting pivotal infrastructural obstacles, Nigeria can firmly establish itself as a notable contender on the world platform.

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