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On The Catwalk: Why We Need to Adopt the Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter Fashion Calendar in Nigeria

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On The Catwalk’ is a new column by BellaNaija’s former fashion writer and critic turned fashion publicist and blogger – Richard Akuson. The column seeks to explore the length and breadth of the emerging Nigerian fashion industry. Richard shares his thoughts on happenings within the industry, one issue at a time.

I feel like before we’re able to decide whether we’re all going to adhere to the global fashion calendar or not, we should at least get to know what it really is.

Lisa Folawiyo's Spring Summer 17 collection

Lisa Folawiyo’s Spring Summer 17 Collection

You should know that there are two types of seasons in fashion; first the retail season and secondly the fashion week season. Retail season is the timeline within which designers and buyers/retailers make orders, produce and make deliveries; the fashion week season is when we all sit in front of our computers streaming live shows in New York, Paris, London or Milan. It is during the fashion season that designers have the opportunity to court buyers/retailers who’ll take what they’ve noted during the fashion weeks, to make decisions on what and who to buy.

So, imagine where the Nigerian design industry decides to veer off this already working set-up for their own Harmattan, Dry and Rainy seasons, which have no time bearing or practicality within the global fashion calendar. Hold that thought!

Lisa Folawiyo's Autumn Winter 15 Collection

Lisa Folawiyo’s Autumn Winter 15 Collection

The global fashion industry is guided by a couple of fashion seasons on its calendar. First the major fashion seasons; Autumn/Winter which starts in February with all the major fashion weeks and last a long 6 months, and Spring/Summer which starts in September and lasts another 6 months. But in-between these two major seasons are; Haute Couture  season in January and the Resort/Cruise season in July.

Now, bringing this argument home, there has been those such as Papa Oyeyemi of Maxivive agitating that the Nigerian fashion industry ditch the global Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer seasons for their rather ingenious creation of Harmattan, Dry and Rainy Fashion seasons, which at the crux of their argument, most succinctly represents our true seasons. I can’t fault that line of reasoning. I totally understand their line of thought having spoken to Papa Oyeyemi over this subject.

Maxivive Dry Harmattan Collection at SA Menswear Week.

Maxivive Dry Harmattan Collection at SA Menswear Week.

But you see, fashion is more global than we like to admit. It goes beyond the shores of Nigeria and our minds. It transcends cultures and religion. A dress made in Ghana by, say, Studio 189 (a fair product designer line) can end up in Eastern Europe on a buyer whose only connection to such an outfit could be its climatic appropriateness. We cannot be making raincoat in September when the rest of the world is wearing the slimmest silk blouses for Summer. The retail calendar also works in a hasty manner, buyers come to see shows in September and decide on placing orders. Nigerian designers cannot be the missing link in this global order.

It’s important if you as a designer intend to make clothes for a global audience that more than 70% of them experience Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter at the same time to not be making rain coats dead in the middle of Summer simply because you live in Nigeria and it’s pouring down here in September, or making slinky pieces when the rest of the world is in Winter. For such an intending global brand, selling will be a monstrous challenge as nobody will buy what they do not need despite your art in sugar-coating, they just won’t buy what they don’t immediately need.

Maxivive Pre-Harmattan 2015 Collection

Maxivive Pre-Harmattan 2015 Collection

Maxivive's Debut Wet Rainy Collection

Maxivive’s Debut Wet Rainy Collection

Richard Akuson is founder at The PR Boy a boutique media and press relations agency for fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands with a specialty in raising the overall awareness of a brand, product or image of a company or person. Richard is also a weekly columnist at Bellanaija.com ('On The Catwalk' and 'Collection Conversations'), he's also a party host at The Front Row and a vlogger at Get Pink with Richard . Want to reach out? Follow @richardakuson on Instagram and @richardakuson on Twitter or send an email to [email protected]

16 Comments

  1. Baby gurl

    October 4, 2016 at 9:48 am

    So you are saying we should only bend to the rules of the west and overlook ours? I understand your angle I see where u r coming from but you are also being close minded, the exact thing u r accusing Maxvive and co. of. What the global fashion powerhouses instead are saying is for all of “us”, ‘us’ being players in the global fashion industry to adopt seasonless fashion collections. The world is now a village. Literally. I can sit in my room and purchase a handmade bag from a village in Sweden. Everyone is doing that. No one brand has the entire power anymore. Everyone is an influencer. Think big. Think wide. The earth is your oyster.

  2. Nigerian

    October 4, 2016 at 9:51 am

    We need to understand that Lagos is not a country. That a few are exposed to western climate does not mean that a Nigerian designer should display winter fur jackets in Lagos during fashion week just because…
    They can pick what suits their weather from us and we can do likewise. That is what trade is all about.

  3. UNCLE GWE GWE GWE

    October 4, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Nigerians should stick to their weather conditions, after all the majority of their customers are Nigerian based.

  4. Chimka

    October 4, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Your line of thought writer is flawed. Let us create our own according to our weathee, if oyinbo like our fashion they should buy and keep it until it is appropriate for them to wear it in our country. Let us build our market so that Nigerians can start wearing raincoat in raining season. The designers should add style and taste to their designer so we Nigerians will be happy to rock our raincoat when it rains and our rainboot. What our designer has failed to do is to add style and be creative with our design and weather pattern to appeal to Nigeria. But the West have done this successful and it is working for them. The world is appeal. If Nigeria designers can appeal to Nigeria with different fashions that correspond to the weather we would have a good industry. Oyinbo that comes to Nigeria and sees Ankara can buy and keep it until summer for him to wear in his country. Don’t tell us to follow their own weather pattern that doesn’t correspond with ours.

    • Nuna

      October 4, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Are you minding him? The only reason why A/W and S/S appeals to all ye pretentious ‘fashion’ people is that it has taken years to brand them as the go to for fashion. Start building your own and over time, it just may be as recognized. Or you think anything in fashion is constant?
      Na only oyibo oyibo things dey appeal to you people. Mschew

  5. Dash

    October 4, 2016 at 11:57 am

    It’s same people that refuse to stick to these standards that will release a collection with nothing “collective” about the clothes.
    My point about this is working on a global standard. Our weather in this Nigeria is even confused, so which are you going to stick with. It rains all year round in warri, and rains between may-june in minna. Harmmattan in minna is an extreme mixture of hot dry and cold dry, while that in abeokuta is plain cold. So let every designer in each city create to suit their weather abi? To discuss this topic, Richard would need more than one post to explain it’s not necessary about the weather condition, some clothes with fur released as AW is redesigned for custormers who ask for such. Richard thank you for this post.

  6. Roma

    October 4, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    One of the worse things that could happen to a man is to lose his identity. Nigeria has three seasons and they should stick to their season, enough of the ”Oyinbo is the best” mentality. Is eating deep into so many Nigerians.

  7. Cici

    October 4, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Once I read the heading I knew most readers will jump to ‘Why can’t we build our own’. Although I support embracing our own, lets be realistic:

    1. Fashion is not just about whats designed its also about who buys and when. How many of you head out to shop specifically for Harmattan or Rainy Season? You find a couple of warmer clothes in your closet for Harmattan and for rainy season a Nigerian’s good old umbrella works for them. Nigerians do not buy according to season rather by event or occasion e.g. birthday, wedding, gala etc. How many of you will walk into Grey Velvet or any of the other Nigerian designer retail stores to shop for specifically for Harmattan???? So why on earth should designers spend time funding Harmattan and Rainy season collections except maybe for the creative aesthetic of doing so but certainly not for some dream of Nigerians actually shopping for rainy season.

    2. Take a few seconds to list all the fashion designers that are most respected in the Nigerian fashion industry today. Many of them are respected due to their efforts that have been recognized by GLOBAL media which then reach GLOBAL audiences who are obviously not tied to Harmattan and Rainy season. You see Deola Sagoe, Maki Oh or the likes featured in Vogue or during NYFW and we celebrate them. Why? Because although a brand can be successful within borders, recognition beyond the borders of Nigeria is and should be respected as well. A bigger audience needs a bigger picture while still maintaining the core african flavour of your brand.

    3. Again I am not saying designers MUST follow international trends of S/S and Fall Winter to be successful brands. But whats important is a brand knowing their market. If a brand seeks international recognition its important to follow the international calendar but if a brand has a bigger focus for specially the Nigerian customer by all means cater to them in the way that best suits the market. For example a Fall/Winter from Toju Foyeh or April by Kunbi is slightly strange because thats not their market as they have dominated what Nigerians spend money on, weddings. But when you see Fall/Winter Lisa Folawiyo, its the brand’s decision to speak a wider language but that certainly doesn’t make either of the brands more important than the other. They have different levels of importance relative to their market.

    In essence, I think brands should study what market they are interested in then figure out what calendar works. 🙂

    • Nuna

      October 4, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      In thesame vein, how many Nigerian customers will walk into Grey velvet to ask for A/W winter jacket?
      Know your market!!

  8. tunmi

    October 4, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    This is a joke. As in, seriously???

    • Mohammad

      October 4, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      I love you! Lol!

  9. Chukwuma

    October 4, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Until we seek our true identity as Africans and boldly build ourselves, we will continue to dance to the western tune and they will also continue to laugh at our neocolonial behaviour. Now when we say international, its seen from a country’s view with respect to another or others. So why cant jason wu adopt the harmattan dry season, afterall he might have aspiring Nigerian buyers. But some people will say we should adopt the western system. Its a sad seed of postcolonialism planted in us to despise our real African identity and almost living to seek western authentication of appropriateness.For me, we should start to write our own stories ourselves, define our fashion/textiles, build our fashion industry in alliance with the so called western system, else we will continue to be defined by their standards. Being recognised by the west is a wrong goal for a true African. We in this generation are most of the time basking in the wrong definition of sucess. Adopt the African way of life as africans. Copying the west is one major source of African instability, we have values,systems that suit us, its about us and not the west.

  10. nunulicious

    October 4, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Richard, what is your name? I mean your Nigerian name?

    I’m reminded of Easau in the bible who sold his birthright for a pot of porridge, Failed to see the big picture…the long term goal. You need to read the book, “Why nations fail” and you will see why you just like our fathers who traded our history and education for that of the west have contributed in bringing Nigeria down.

    Me I don’t know plenty about fashion industry oh but what history tells us is nations which thrive and grow from generation to generation are those which have a strong cultural identity and embrace it. They take what they can of the West but hold on to their core. This makes them thrive wherever they are in the longterm. Love your own Nigeria. Love your own Africa.

  11. David

    October 4, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I personally feel seasonless collections are the way to go. That way you’re able to spread your retail reach by sending pieces that can fit with European buyers to them and also having enough pieces that will work for West African buyers. If you wish to pander to global audiences then include a few pieces for that. Lisa Folawiyo has coats in almost every collection be it AW or SS. Honestly a few sweaters wouldn’t hurt.

  12. Ella

    October 4, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    Nigerians embrace “originality”. In the Western World they experience winter, summer, spring, autumn seasons hence the name of their collections. That’s original. In West Africa we have dry, rainy and harmmattan. Imagine Roberto Cavalli debuting a dry season or rainy season collection, does it not sound ridiculous to you. Instead Nigerians designers should improve on the technical production (finishing, quality fabrics, sizing, original designs) of their clothes to meet or surpass international standards. Do this and you will get clients from all parts of the world. Americans and Europeans Designers put in the years,research,talent, investment and techniques to make their fashion industries formidable. Start building an authentic African Industry designed to make African designers succeed. Stop this “follow follow oyibo mentality” .

  13. Tutu

    October 5, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Richard. What’s up with Collection Conversations? Please don’t stop it. It puts all these designers on their toes.

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