BN Style Forum is a platform where issues pertaining to the Nigerian & African fashion industry will be discussed weekly. We hope to encourage an open, honest & constructive engagement with stakeholders in the industry.
Yesterday, I was compiling a list of designers currently operating in the Nigerian fashion industry and I came across an article that was featured on BellaNaija in 2006 highlighting 10 established designers. What I found most astonishing is 6 years down the line; only two brands have managed to remain relevant.
Statistics show that 50% of small businesses fail in the first five years due to a variety of reasons ranging from a lack of sufficient funds to bad management skills. What this suggests, is in 2017, half of the designers which currently operate in the Nigerian fashion industry will be relegated to a point of invisibility.
In acknowledgement of the unique environment in which fashion businesses operate in Nigeria, that is, lack of constant electricity amongst others, which result to high operating costs, our discussion tackles the sustainability of fashion businesses in the Nigerian economy. How do fashion businesses ensure their relevance in an industry shaped by constantly emerging competition where consumers are still being convinced to buy Nigerian?
What distinguishes Deola Sagoe or Tiffany Amber; brands that have managed to remain relevant for over a decade from the ones who will eventually crumble? After all, they were once new to the Nigerian fashion industry and its complex structure. In a recent interview with Ndani TV for Platinum Standard, Folake Folarin of Tiffany Amber states, “There’s this hype, popularity that comes with this business, that it is very easy to lose focus, and believe the hype, that you are the best thing since slice bread”. Could this be a contributing factor to the perceived failure? Are businesses sometimes so absorbed in the hype, the fashion shows, that the “business” loses its position as the focal point? Do they take the initiative to measure how the hype translates into sales, like they should? Do these businesses respond to changes in consumer tastes and buying attitudes?
The Nigerian fashion industry is experiencing a surge of designers, you just need to see my email box, and you will understand how fast they are springing up. Irrespective of whether their designs are great or not, I still ask myself; are these people prepared to operate a business in the Nigerian fashion industry, are they aware of the dynamics that exist and are they ready to put in the effort to ensure their relevance in the long haul or have they bitten more than they can chew?
The reality is, as a new business in the Nigerian fashion industry there is a high probability that in 5 years your business/brand might be a distant memory; What steps need to be taken to avoid such a disappointing end?
I’ve been told two heads are better than one, let’s discuss.
Would love to read your thoughts.
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Photo Credit: iyap.ru