What a year 2020 has been for not just the Nigerian fashion community but for everyone. At the turn of the year, nobody expected 2020 to play out as it did. With the pandemic, lockdowns, travel restrictions, protests, and so on, there has been a lot to take in the past 12 months. But despite the uncertainty and the various challenges faced on a personal and industrial level, we are still holding strong.
One of the industries that have had to reinvent itself and make timely adjustments is the Nigerian fashion community. In the years leading up to 2020, Nigeria witnessed a rapid rise in its fashion community, thanks to the influx of new design talents. Although the Nigerian fashion community is still in its infancy in comparison to other fashion communities, lots of progress has been made in the last few years. Take, for example, the launch of the biannual Lagos Fashion Week in 2011 by Omoyemi Akerele, which has amplified the exposure for local talents and at the same time serve as a long-term platform for local designers to build successful fashion businesses.
Even in the wake of uncertainty, the Nigerian fashion community is resolute thanks to the presence of passionate individuals fueled by a common belief that the industry is a platform for growth and development not just personally but on a national scale. In the last few years, the Nigerian fashion community has birthed some big names in African fashion like Mai Atafo, Kenneth Ize, etc. The growth of the fashion industry in Nigeria has helped other industries. For example, the Nigerian textile industry is experiencing a revival. It is on course to register unprecedented numbers for the first time in years.
All of these growths and progression can be linked to the energy and enthusiasm of the country itself. Nigeria has a youthful population of more than 50 million. It is quite evident that the creative energy and dynamism in the country is unrivaled. The energy is infectious because it shows the people’s dynamic culture, relisence, passion, industry, and commercial viability.
The challenges of 2020 have been well documented. The pandemic has led to the cancellation and postponement of several events. The 10th anniversary of the Lagos Fashion Week is one of the events affected by the pandemic. But irrespective of the unsettling times, the organizers of the fashion week have had to adapt. This year’s event has been one of the most ambitious yet, with live-streamed shows, VR experience, and the launch of various schemes to help young designs access tools and resources. But the protest against police brutality coined The #EndSARS campaign put a halt on the event.
Despite the setbacks here and there, the Nigerian fashion community is gathering momentum. Events like the Arise Fashion Week have shown that fashion events can still occur successfully even in these uncertain times. As we chart a course towards normalcy, there is always the need to call on the Nigerian fashion community to offer concrete support for Nigerian brands.
2020 has been challenging in many ways, but we can forge ahead into the new year with hope and courage that the Nigerian fashion community will continue to thrive irrespective of obstacles. Cheers to the new year!