Nigeria is well known for their oil, but more recently Nigeria has become popular for its fashion and clothing market also. Michelle Obama, Lupita Nyong’o, Solange Knowles, and Issa Rae are some of the key celebrities that have popularized Nigerian fashion. All four recently wore Amaka Osakwe’s designs. Amaka Osakwe is a Nigerian fashion designer who is known to blend traditional features from her Nigerian heritage with a more modern Western style. Amaka Osakwe’s label called Maki Oh has a large following in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Amaka Osakwe is not the lone Nigerian designer to be brought up when stars are questioned who designed what you are wearing right now. Duro Olowu and Jewel by Lisa are the two other most popular Nigerian fashion icons to be mentioned. Duro Olowu was born in Nigeria, but currently, he has been designing in London. His style combines innovative patterns as well as textiles that are inspired by his Nigerian background. Duro Olowu was one of the lucky fashion designers to have dressed Michelle Obama as well as Solange Knowles and Iris Apfel. During the 2005 British Fashion Awards Olowu won the New Designer of the Year award.
Fashion designer Lisa Folawiyo founded Jewel and is the creative director. Jewel is a popular Nigerian fashion brand that cannot be ignored because it is unique due to its modern and eclectic style. Lisa Folawiyo was initially a law student who attended the University of Nigeria; however, Lisa veered tracks and began her fashion label at her homestead without any formal training. Lisa is very passionate about fashion and she has an uncanny sense of style that uses the embellishments of the Ankara fabric. The Ankara fabric is also known as African wax prints and is made of 100% cotton that has been styled with vibrant patterns. It is a very colorful fabric that is patterned with tribal patterns and motifs and has garnered the attention of fashion lovers all over the world.
Most recently, Nigerian designers have been promoting their brands during fashion weeks, print media, and online media. Due to the recent rise in popularity of the Nigerian style many boutiques and online stores are interested in carrying designs by Nigerian fashion designers. Nigeria has also been hosting fashion weeks called Lagos Fashion and Design Week that have been attended by large international retailers like Selfridges and Browns UK.
Another key factor in the rise of Nigerian fashion is the online retail spaces. The internet boasts 56 million subscribers and not to mention there are 120 million people with active cell phone lines so of course eCommerce has grown rapidly and Nigerian fashion has gained traction in that space. There are no signs of eCommerce’s growth stopping anytime soon so e-tailers such as Jumia and Konga have jumped on the Nigerian fashion bandwagon.
Nigeria has a population of 160 million so of course, it is at the center of the fashion scene in Africa. Nigeria has also seen a growth in its urban population and economically it has grown as well thereby providing some of its richer population with disposable incomes. The middle class also has a voracious appetite for Nigerian fashion that is gaining economic footing.
Lagos Fashion Design Week has been largely accredited to popularizing Nigerian fashion in these past years. It has been showcasing for many years now and have been highlighting key fashion designers and bringing the designers in the international sphere of fashion influence. Lagos Fashion and Design Week has also partnered with the British Council and Fashion Business Series. These partnerships are enabling designers to learn about topics such as raising funds and learning how to become better entrepreneurs.
Some might say Nigerian fashion is at the height of its popularity, but I say it has not reached its pinnacle. Nigerian fashion is here and it is ready to play in the closets of the many celebrities in America and the United Kingdom. We have just begun to see what Nigerian fashion has to offer and so far everyone is delighted that Nigerian fashion has finally arrived on the international scene.