A lot of buisnesses and industries in Nigeria have been hit during the Coronavirus pandemic. One of those industries being Nigeria’s fashion Industry.
Many events were meant to take place during this period but have been moved up. Woven Threads was such and was meant to actually take place in the physical world with many interactice sessions, workshops, and pop-up stores. If you know the fashion Industry, you should know that this event is a big deal, signifing the beginning of Nigeria’s two fashion seasons.
Of course due to Covid-19, everything was now set to happen in the online world with a lot of Zoom calls with connection issues. One of such calls included Omoyemi Akerele, the founder of Lagos Fashion Week, Nike Ogunlesi, founder and CRO of Ruff n Tumble, Jumoke Oduwole, special adviser to the Nigerian president on Ease of Doing Business, and a few other fashion gurues. The 2 hour live session was about how African fashion can adapt to a fast-changing world of ruptured supply chains and cheap foreign textiles.
The bi-annual fashion event was a big deal and it brought a lot of models, fashion writers, insiders, and editors together. The event is has been host to many significant names in the fashion industry such as , Edward Enninful, the editor-in-chief of the british vogue as well as Naomi Campbell, Vogue’s contributing editor and supermodel.
The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 in Italy was right at the time the Milan Fashion Week was taking place. It caused the many attendees to book early flights back to the countries. In Nigeria the Lagos Fashion Week Autumn/Winter shows moved to a more digital format and Arise Fashion Week to reschedule from April to October.
Designers income has been another victim of this outbreak. It wasn’t much before and now that there is nothing, there can only be prayers for them.
Because of this outbreat, the fashion indutries supply chain has been cut off. Usually they sourse their raw materials from countries such as India, China, and places in Europe but are now forced to find and ultirior source locally.
Head of communications for Lagos Fashion Week, Onyinye Fafi-Obi says, “Sourcing locally has always been the more sustainable way to go. It will usher in more creative ways to sell to the consumer such as virtual consultations as opposed to being heavily reliant on in-person consultations.” She continues, “more brands are also pivoting towards focusing on the Direct-To-Customer approach and gathering data on their consumers rather than relying on wholesale middlemen.”
Most might see this out-break as a set back but it call also be seen as an oportinity for the fashion industry to grow on it’s own. The industry which depended largely on western influece has now been forced to look locally for their spot light.
Onyinye says,”The African Fashion industry will forge its path as opposed to its reliance on western fashion structures. Looking inwards, we will continue to develop structures and platforms that work within the confinement and complexity of operating a fashion business in the continent. The pandemic has revealed that no one has all the answers and surviving will be dependent on every brand doing what works for them to stay afloat and alive. This notion will be carried into the Post-Covid19 world. More African fashion brands will be more in-tune with what works for their business and what doesn’t. This will enable them to make more confident decisions concerning their value chain.”