August 19, 2022
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The Nigerian fashion industry: challenges and viable solutions | Habeeb Abdul – Qwenu!

  • November 8, 2021
  • 13 min read
The Nigerian fashion industry: challenges and viable solutions | Habeeb Abdul – Qwenu!

With a primarily young population, Nigeria is home to Africa’s fastest-growing fashion industry. The Nigerian fashion business is booming, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Rising internet broadband access, the ease with which young people can buy their favourite fashion style online, and unquestionably rising income levels are all elements that have been recognized as contributing to the industry’s rise.
Fashion is a breath of fresh air, full of liberty, ease, style, and self-assurance. Before you consider getting into the fashion industry, you should be aware that the fashion industry is made up of various structures and sectors. The fashion industry, according to a well-known fashion writer, is separated into creative and sales functions, i.e., design and production on the one hand, and sales and distribution on the other. We know there are fantastic fashion professionals in Nigeria with fantastic ideas that can create a style out of nothing right now, but the venue for sales promotions is lacking.
Even though the entertainment business is regarded as the creative sector, the fashion industry has evolved as one, and it should be a determining factor as well as a driving force in a country’s economy.
The Nigerian fashion industry has risen in size and complexity over the last decade, gaining international interest. The textile, apparel, and footwear sector have grown at an average of 17% each year since 2010, according to GDP data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). This development has been fueled in part by increased demand, but it has also been fueled in part by unrivalled activities that continue to propel Nigeria into the global fashion spotlight.
Lagos Fashion Week, for example, has aided this trend by hosting annual runway shows that are utilized to grow brands.

Notwithstanding, many fashion pundits continue to oppose the industry’s rate of market expansion, and rightly so. The worldwide fashion business is valued at more than $2.5 trillion, with Africa accounting for less than 1% of that amount.
According to Euromonitor, the Sub-Saharan African fashion sector is approximately $31 billion, with Nigeria contributing 15% ($4.7 billion). Despite having nearly four times the populace of South Africa ($14.4 billion), Nigeria’s proportion is significantly lower. Rather than focusing on market size, Nigeria would be best placed by addressing issues along the value chain, from farmers and textile mills that supply raw materials to production, marketing, and logistics.
Each component of the value chain currently has significant faults. Cotton farming in Nigeria, for example, is at an all-time low, and despite rhetoric to the contrary, textile production in the country is still small. The latter fact informs measures such as the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to include textiles on its list of prohibited products for foreign exchange access.
Aside from raw materials and manufacturing, the fashion sector also faces a scarcity of cash and skilled labour.
Tackling these concerns will benefit a variety of players across the industry, including consumers, small enterprises, premium brands, and large-scale producers. Of course, the overall economic implications are significant—the fashion and textile sectors provide 15% of Cambodia’s GDP, while fashion goods account for 70% of Sri Lanka’s industrial output.
Access to credit would be a wonderful place to start. Because bank loans to the sector are now minimal and difficult to get, credit solutions are especially important. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bank of Industry (BoI) are two institutions that have tried to fill this need.
The CBN developed a fund that provides fashion entrepreneurs with low-interest financing. The arrangement, however, is limited in terms of what the loans can be used for. Several well-known designers have complained that the program just pays overhead costs like rent and does not allow them to invest in their goods or methods.
Nigeria can benefit from global economic trends if it gets its house in order. Many firms have closed in recent years, succumbing to expensive infrastructure expenses, an unstable currency, and low customer needs.
Nonetheless, the country’s manufacturing sector has a decent chance of reviving. The Nigerian Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment initiated a plan called the “Nigeria Industrial Revolution” to boost manufacturing GDP in areas including textiles and automotive assembly, among others. Capacity utilization has increased from 29 percent to 50 percent in the last two years, resulting in the creation of over 8,000 employment. It has made sourcing locally created fabrics like Adire and Aso-oke easy for companies.
Since the 1990s, China has become one of the world’s leading exporters of clothing and textiles, with 40% of the global market share, but rising production costs and shifting economic complexities (from investment-led manufacturing to services-led consumption) have prompted some manufacturers to look elsewhere. Ethiopia, which China is eyeing as a manufacturing powerhouse, is the best example of this, with China pouring billions of dollars in investment and knowledge into the East African country. Similarly, if Nigeria can resolve some of its infrastructure and governance issues, it possesses a decreased environment and labour force to support a similar economic experiment.
If the Nigerian government takes action and creates a more conducive climate for fashion and textile enterprises to thrive, it may be possible to resurrect the once-thriving sectors on a national level. The country had had a thriving textile industry, but as with most other industries, progress slowed with the oil boom. The industry came to a complete halt as a result of the Chinese takeover.
It is possible to revive the sector, notably through the implementation of new legislation and the improvement of financial solutions for creative businesses. Furthermore, infrastructure and demographic data investments would aid fashion enterprises in better understanding and serving their markets. The government’s previous mistake of ignoring the industry originated from the belief that it could not be done. International markets, as well as those closer to home, such as Ethiopia, have shown that this is not the case.
Is the Nigerian fashion industry being empowered or stalled? | By Nneoma Ekwegh

If properly handled, the sector has a tremendous opportunity for growth. Furthermore, if the industry is consciously and sustainably invested in, it has tremendous ability to inspire many people and, in the long term, greatly enhance the Nigerian economy.
While the country is making significant progress in promoting sustainable fashion offerings and the Nigerian people are more eager to support emerging designers, the sector suffers from a lack of professional fashion training facilities. The creation of institutional institutions that teach the art and business of fashion, as well as improved infrastructure, particularly in terms of electricity supply, will be welcome developments.
The Nigerian government should invest more in the fashion industry, provide more grants to enterprises, and assist designers. To give possibilities for our designs to be showcased on the international market and to encourage more global fashion shows. To make exporting more convenient.
In Africa, we do not have a good network system. We can’t trade between ourselves, and the freedom to freely trade within African countries is a government responsibility. Nigeria’s production costs are extremely expensive. China and India cannot be compared. They received assistance from the government. They have a road system.
We pay for gasoline and do not have access to electricity 24 hours a day due to the high expense. In Nigeria, the cost of operating a manufacturing business is very expensive.
We can run factories more efficiently if the government can assist in establishing a better infrastructure system. We’ll be able to compete with India and China after that. Our labour costs are high since Nigeria’s standard of living is rising rapidly. Unfortunately, our textile sector in Nigeria is currently in decline. Cotton is not something we produce.
Cotton is the most common fabric utilized in the manufacturing process. Unfortunately, we do not produce locally, so if we want to appeal to the international market as a Nigerian designer and be recognized on a global scale, we must choose materials that are acceptable internationally. This indicates that the base cloth is imported, even if the Adire is created here. The chiffon we use is imported, as is the dye we use; the only thing that is made in the United States are the people who make the art.
If you travel to the Western world, you will observe how the material is screen printed. Ours, on the other hand, are made by hand, giving it a distinct advantage over Chinese products. Despite the fact that the materials are made in either China or India.
We are unable to create the basic fabrics and must instead import them. In general, the raw materials required to manufacture textiles are imported into the country.
We know that the Nigerian cotton textile market was booming in the 1960s and 1970s. Unfortunately, we were unable to match the needs as our population continues to rise. Because the population was lower, the industry thrived. According to the Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s population is predicted to be 206.14 million in January 2020, putting it in seventh place in the world. As a result, the textile sector in Nigeria is unable to meet the needs of the population. This is also due to a lack of infrastructure, a scarcity of skilled labour, a lack of manufacturing investment, and a lack of government backing for the textile industry’s growth.
In addition, the fashion sector in Nigeria is coming to a halt as the number of coronavirus infections climbs. It’s the very first of its sort. Designers who acquire their raw resources from China and Europe have had their suppliers disrupted indefinitely, and events that would have needed people to dress up have been forbidden. Many designers’ income has suffered a large and unexpected drop, despite the fact that many claims it wasn’t much before.
Many designers who formerly relied on China are starting to reconsider their production cycle, creative methods, and resource access. The epidemic has demonstrated that we require greater infrastructure development than ever before. Our supply chain requires sufficient investment, but it also demonstrates how talented and imaginative Nigerian designers are, as evidenced by masks and other protective gear. At this time, everyone is trying to support and generate the requirements. Many in the industry believe that now is the perfect moment to eliminate elements that do not necessarily serve the industry’s greater good.
Prior to the epidemic, African fashion was on its way to becoming a global fashion destination, with the sector growing steadily and Lagos being cited alongside international fashion centres like Milan and Paris. While no one can anticipate how the sector will fare in the aftermath of the pandemic, morale is strong and employees remain optimistic.
Many people feel the pandemic will provide the impetus the African fashion industry needs to reject western approbation and forge its own path.
Rather than relying on Western fashion institutions, the African fashion industry will carve its own way. Looking inward, it will strive to evolve systems and channels that function within the constraints and complexities of running a fashion business in Africa. The epidemic has revealed that no one has all of the solutions and that survival will be contingent on each brand to do what works best for them in order to stay alive. This idea will be carried on into the post-Covid-19 era. Increasingly African fashion brands will be more active in determining what works and what doesn’t for their businesses. They will be able to make more appropriate choices about their value chain as a result of this.
Many African designers look to China, India, Turkey, and Vietnam for fabric and production. As a result of the epidemic, several designers’ materials and manufacturing have been stranded in other countries, leaving them with no choice but to acquire fabrics locally and make the most of what they can find. It will continue to be both ways inside the future, sourcing locally and worldwide, but buying from these other nations will be less intense than it was before to COVID-19.
In light of the aforementioned issues, the Nigerian fashion sector has seen a drop in predicted growth as a result of global market interests. One can only speculate on the consequences and further obstacles that the present COVID-19 pandemic will bring. With restricted travel in key states such as Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun, limited access to locations such as Aba in Abia state (a key hub for the manufacturing of garments in Nigeria) has been formed, the fashion industry is expected to suffer a significant drop in revenue.
Given the current turbulence that every business entity is experiencing, access to funding for expansion and management over the supply chain has also stalled.
The remedy could be to take a step back from the obvious challenges surrounding mass-market manufacture and focus on what has worked in the past, namely the messaging and story established by Nigerians’ emotional connection to fashion.
Basically, fashion industry participants should focus on exploiting digital channels to create top-of-mind awareness by hosting web-based VLOGs with planned programming. They can also stream virtual fashion displays with designs for Personal Protective Equipment (P.P.Es) like face masks and gloves, both live and recorded.
Every industry affected by the pandemic is currently struggling to stay relevant. Members of the Nigerian Fashion Industry are in a prime position to respond with unique ideas depending on whatever lens you look at things through. These solutions will enable them to stay afloat during the lockdown, as well as recover and reboot after the pandemic, thanks to conscious decisions to repurpose existing business strategies in the face of an uncertain, volatile, complex, and confusing environment.
With Nigeria’s current President, Muhammadu Buhari, pouring money towards agriculture, everyone is engaging in farming because the government is pushing agriculture, by making cash available to persons who want to pursue a career in agriculture. As a result of the government pushing more people to enter agriculture, more people are doing so. That does not appear to be the case in the textile industry. If the same method is used in the textile manufacturing industry, it will result in more growth and inspire more individuals to enter the industry, increasing the economy.
From Tailor To Designer: The Boom of The Nigerian Fashion Industry

Qwenu! publishes opinions, stories, reflections, and experiences on contemporary issues. Click here to read articles from many Africans at home and in the diaspora. Embedded tweets and guest articles do not represent the opinions of Qwenu! as we only provide a platform for writers to express themselves. Email your articles to editor@qwenu.com Follow us @qwenu_media Featured image:
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Your article was very insightful and I gained a lot
I am currently working on a business venture and you know a lot about the fashion industry in Nigeria. I would like to reach out to you and seek your advice and opinion
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