I’ve never been a fan of norms and challenging status quos is a pastime hobby of mine. Matter of fact, this is why I ended up studying botany rather than the Accounting my father wanted me to. Don’t give me that look, there’s a lot more to botany than vegetation and flowers, I can’t really remember much, but that’s a story for another day.
This week, I came across something that caught my eye and is the reason for this post; It’s not commonplace to find corporate organizations in Nigeria that allow flexibility in dressing. No I’m not ‘talking’ about the agencies, the e-commerce organizations or general creative institutions, I’m actually referring to financial institutions (Banks) and focused on Sterling Bank.
As I said earlier, I find that I challenge norms and this has also affected my choice of career. In Nigeria, a lot of our fashion decisions are imported and many don’t even know why they wear what they wear. The whole idea of suits and ties originated from the cold climes where warmth is necessary for survival, we have however imported this and stay feeling like we are on top of our fashion game.
The lack of creativity fries my brain cells.
The options for office wear are so limited, that as a guy working in a Bank (for example), you have to rotate among white, blue, purple and maybe pink, then throw in traditional wear on Fridays. Do this often enough and you’d be able to pick out your clothes in the dark.
We know that the sun in Nigeria is hotter than everywhere else, so how do we manage to remain sane dressed up like we are in negative temperature climes? It was therefore quite interesting to hear that Sterling Bank had embarked on a “Made in Nigeria” themed project starting April 25th to 29th, where their staff across the country were instructed to rock creative, indigenous attires for a week. How are they going to make this work? I’m curious, what or how many “made in Nigeria” attires even exist?
Not to be an annoying pessimist so I did some research and asked around. Apparently, staff could come to work all week in outfits representing ‘Made-In-Nigeria. I found out that Wednesday is strictly Nigerian made fabrics – Aso-oke, Adire, A’nger U Tiv and more – it all seemed extra and I’m wondering how this will be pulled off.
Well, my most dominant concern is: Is there actually a statement that can be made from this? Can Sterling Bank pioneer what could possibly be a paradigm shift in office dress codes? It does seem interesting thinking of it; having staff of organizations repping our locally made attire. We could even see international companies imbibing our style and exporting it till it becomes a norm there?
Or am I reaching?
It will be nice to see our printed blazers, Adire shirts and even Aso-oke ties become regulars on Wall Street, Uptown Lisbon and Central London. Jidenna could even decide to relax on pushing the Ankara style as it becomes widely accepted.
With what Sterling Bank is doing, a massive potential of opening up the fashion space and readjusting our norms exists and it remains to be seen what becomes of it. Watching from this bean bag where I type this, I can only hope that this lasts more than a week and becomes a constant feature – not just in Sterling Bank, but others nation…and worldwide.
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