Being one of the biggest consumers of fashion in Africa, Nigeria can leverage on mass production for her teeming population to boost her economy, according to some fashion designers who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the ongoing three-day “Ready-To -Wear” (R2W) Fashion Expo in Ikeja, Lagos.
They said this would also enhance employment opportunities for many Nigerians.
According to them, this will also boost exportation if the stakeholders could come together to build production hubs for mass production in the country.
Grace Dogubo, Creative Director, Gravido Fashions, said though there were private hubs put together by individuals in the country, yet it could not make the desired impact in the exportation of fashion.
“The existing mini private hubs we have in the country cannot meet up with the demands of the large consumers of fashion we have in our country.
“We need a synergy from both the fashion experts and the government so that we can have standard fashion hubs.
“It is not what between two and 10 designers can achieve, but it will require several of our designers coming together to pull resources together to develop hubs, by acquiring equipment and developing labour.
“By the time we put our resources together, the government will key into it and support us, ”she told NAN.
Mrs Toyin Yusuf of Beadall Version said that the business of bead making was making waves locally and internationally.
“Nigerians are highly creative people, the quality of beads we produce have surpassed the international ones because our designs are appreciated globally,” she said.
She decried the challenge of inaccessible raw materials which according to her, were being imported.
“The challenge we have in bead making is the availability of raw materials which makes our quality products a little expensive as consumers believe,” she said.
Similarly, Oriola Ladenegan, an expert in customised leather bracelets, wallets, phone pouch and wrist beads, told NAN that the cost of skills and materials are higher than the selling price.
“Our products are loved by both Nigerians and foreigners, especially those who admire customised handmade beads because they appreciate dignity of labour,” he said.
Ladenegan said that Nigeria stands as the centre for best leather materials because the source was located in the country yet the challenge was the finishing due to lack of machine technology to boost the sector.
However, a specialist on kids’ wears, Olubusola Mada, said their brand, “Mcmada” could compete with the quality of products from outside the country because the fabrics were unique.
“We combine local and foreign fabrics to create exclusive designs that cannot be found elsewhere and that stands us out,” she told NAN.
Another fabrics designer, Olubunmi Shoyebo, said Nigerian elites had taken over the fashion industry and that created more competition in the sector.
Shoyebo, Creative Director, Silk and Silver clothing, said the account on Instagram stated that the Nigerian fashion industry had overtaken other countries and could expand with greater support.
“Exportation tariffs should be made easy for fashion products, improve the power supply and offer technical aid for designers to go into mass production,” she said.
The designer appealed to the government to bring back Ankara textile industries so that the cost of the finished products could become relatively affordable.
However, Mrs Tosin Oketunji, a specialist in female tops, trouser pants, office wears and evening gowns, urged Nigerians to desist from sending raw materials out for substandard productions.
Oketunji, the Creative Director, Okelt Studio Apparel, noted that Nigerians had the skills but the technology needed to be developed by a collaboration of designers and the government.
“Nigeria is more of a consuming nation than production; though we have the skills but the technology is not there, we need to bring about production hubs if we want to boost our Ready-to-wear industry,” she said.
The three -day fashion expo, with the theme, “The New Frontiers” started from Friday, March 23 and will end on Sunday, March 25.