The fashion space in Nigeria has become quiet eventful; there are more shows, trade fairs and workshops happening through out the year. With more youths horning their creativity and embracing entrepreneurship, support and investments from local companies in other sectors, the industry remains one of those thriving amiss economy woes. Here is a summary of what happened in 2019, what you should look forward to and what the industry really needs.
From GTBank Fashion Weekend to Style by Zenith, commercial banks hosting fashion events has become a norm in Nigeria. These events are welcomed investment as they encourage emerging fashion businesses and professionals in the space. Some, however have voiced their disregard for the increasing number of fashion shows hosted by banks suggesting investment in manufacturing, training and other support activities that would improve the industry long term as opposed to several fashion shows and trade fairs per annum. The banks on the other hand see these events as media to engage and entertain their customers and support the industry. British Council, Unilever’s Sunlight, Heineken, Darling Hair, Fayrouz and some other FMCG companies have shown support by sponsoring trainings and awarding grants.
Expectations For The Year
- Impactful workshops and new trainings of international standard. A number of fashion development oriented companies are focussed on improving the state of the industry and encouraging professionalism; Style House Files, the Assembly, Stylesandfits to mention a few. Stay abreast of activities on their digital channels. With the ample supply of human capital, fashion in Nigeria can do so much better with infrastructure and training.
- 2020 edition of the main fashion shows held last year. Shows top on the list are Arise Fashion Week, Lagos Fashion Week, GTB Fashion Weekend, Style by Zenith and Design Fashion Africa.
- Influencers remain a go-to (in Nigeria as in other parts of the world) for social media content engagement. Stylists, designers, artists and movie stars make up the bulk of the influencing group. Runway shows in 2019 (and previous year) saw a number of celebrities walk the runway, a standard expected this year as well.
- Trade fairs and pop-up spaces for retail. These can be good ROI for brands. The best approach is to research and plan ahead; know what attracts consumers, know the criteria required to feature at these fairs and optimize free offers. Free retail booths are offered at trade fairs hosted by the banks (UBA, GTBank and Zenith Bank).
- Collaborations across board; members of the fashion community locally and internationally. Collaborations can be difficult but with good management, they are achievable. Start with short term and feasible agreements.
- Optimization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) – set to be the world’s largest free trade area. It is expected that brands will look into the implications of this on their businesses and plan out their strategies. Premium Times outlines 10 potential benefits.
- The evolve of ‘Made in Africa’ as a concept to embrace in terms of identifying and appreciating the entire local value chain. This invariably creates a sense of responsibility for everyone involved. A fantastic example is the ‘Made in Rwanda’ initiative launched in 2015. Could there be ‘Made in Nigeria’?
- Talks and focus on Fashion Tech. Fashion technology is advancing in leaps and bounds in the western world but it remains an untapped field, largely due to lack of infrastructure. Local advancements seen so far are software based; Fashion Map for one. If an industry of global repute is desired, then stakeholders would do well to start looking into fashion innovation as a key growth driver. This could provide solutions to the current manufacturing challenges.
Maghan Mcdowell summarized Fashion Tech 2020 in her article; ‘The Future of Fashion Tech in 2020 for Vogue Business.
- A better structured industry; where stakeholders can come together to implement growth actions. The benefits of a better structure cannot be over emphasized; two of them being a better outlook in terms of interaction with the rest of the world and a foundation base for the future.
The Global Picture
Digitalization, advancement in technology and sustainability where key factors responsible for the global shake up in fashion space for 2019.
Social media remains a major fashion driver as the first point of interaction (for most) between a brand and its consumers. Popular amongst fashion consumers are Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook. Investment in and strategic management of these platforms have become curial for brand success. Several brands now have social media managers or digital managers tasked with the responsibility of managing brands’ digital channels.
Sustainability; the buzzword for last year, and maybe the buzzword for the new decade became a paramount subject in the fashion industry. Sustainability in fashion touches eight issues highlighted in the Global Fashion Agenda. A number of global fashion companies (PVH, Kering, Tapestry, Chanel, Hermes, to name a few) signed the G7 Fashion Pact to make the industry more sustainable. New entrants and small scale brands (local SMEs too) are not left out of the movement as consumers are increasingly inclined towards sustainable brands. Naturally, more awareness, sensitization and executions are expected in 2020.
A Stitch in Time
There are growth potentials as well challenges ahead for the fashion industry. The Nigeria government has a huge part to play in facilitating the grow of the industry, particularly now the continent has been identified as the next manufacturing centre. Countries like Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya have recorded impressive growth owing to favourable government policies. It goes beyond making creative loans accessible to providing the right infrastructure and support, and encouraging foreign partnerships/investments. The industry needs to evolve from ‘knowing its potential’ to ‘actualizing its potential. While government invention is desiderated, SMEs will do well to pay attention to the global market and make strategic plays.