European fashion buyers look to Nigeria
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A model struts the runway wearing a flowing newspaper print gown in this African megacity where international high-end fashion buyers are looking beyond the country’s bleak headlines to uncover the next new thing.
There have been steady efforts to turn Lagos, a city with a fearsome reputation, into a fashion destination. They reached new heights at the MTN Lagos Fashion & Design Week that ran from Oct. 24 to 27 and drew European high-fashion brands such as the United Kingdom’s Selfridges & Co. and Munich-based MyTheresa.com to Nigeria for the first time.
Ituen Basi’s newspaper inspired Spring/Summer 2013 collection was among 39 collections spotlighted at the city’s latest major fashion week. The Nigerian label’s collection evoked fun and glamour through its use of print and color — characteristics which have come to define the vibrant local fashion scene.
With local brands seeking wider platforms and international retailers hungry for novelty, designers and buyers see opportunities for collaboration.
“There’s something about the fresh, the unknown, the possibility of seeing a new brand springing forth into the limelight. … These are becoming interesting to people outside Nigeria,” said Omoyemi Akerele, the fashion week’s founder and creative director.
An encouraging response to African-inspired designs by top Western labels gives buyers confidence that designs straight from the continent will also sell.