Lagos Fashion Week is great, and future editions could be even better [Pulse Editor's Opinion]

Here's how to help Lagos fashion week in Nigeria realize its full potential.

How fashion week in Nigeria can be better [istockphoto]

The fashion ecosystem in Nigeria is one full of constantly evolving creativity. It is as they say in popular lingo, full of mad talent. Style House Files, the organizers of Lagos Fashion Week do a splendid job of putting together an excellent and well-organized show every year.

Last year, was my first time attending Lagos Fashion week and it was an interesting experience, I enjoyed it. The street fashion was popping and the designs were magnificent.

Some designers chose to have off-site fashion shows so they could express themselves. For instance, Andrea Iyamah had hers on the beach and Orange Culture had Lojay perform on his runway.

With this year’s show looming ahead and Paris Fashion Week which stretched into a month just concluded, it made us think about how Lagos Fashion week can be even better that it currently is.

Make no mistake, Lagos Fashion Week is already doing great. At just 11 years old, the week long celebration of Nigeria's creativity and the arty nature of blackness, has already outperformed projections. On the other hand, Paris has been seeing fashion shows since the 1700s.

By 1945, the first Paris Fashion Week debuted. That is 76 years before the birth of the now celebrated Lagos Fashion Week. Paris is also one of the traditional homes of fashion. Then on the money side, FCHM Paris noted that, "It produces 1.2 billion euros in economic benefits and 10.3 billion euros in commercial transactions each year."

For these reasons, the Lagos Fashion Week and the Paris Fashion Week - or any other fashion week for that matter - are incomparable. However, there still lessons and insights to be taken from some of these established fashion events, from these established countries, to ensure that the Lagos Fashion Week can continue to grow at a fast pace, and adapt to start generating hefty revenue by the time it's just 20 years old.

Already, the eye of the world is on Africa via Afrobeats and the tech space. There is no reason why a Nigerian fashion brand can't raise venture capital funds or even become a unicorn. Platforms like the Lagos Fashion Week can aid that. Part of the problem for Nigerian fashion is the cost of production of apparel, as well as purchasing power and consumer behaviour of Nigerian citizens.

But some of these things can be abridged, so that our fashion industry can actually boom.

Paris Fashion week was a glorious time. Gucci had a runway show made of identical twins. The show was partitioned into two, each side saw one twin. At the end of the show, the partition was removed and identical twins walked the runway.

Coperni had an outfit made by spraying it on a model, Balenciaga had a show in the mud and so many other talking points.

Runways aren’t just about models walking around, added spice can aid the showmanship of a Fashion Week. Already, the Lagos Fashion Week does that with some mouthwatering designs and buzzworthy apparel, but more can be done, to make the events go beyond just clothes, to incorporate lifestyle and all that.

Fashion week is not only for fashion influencers. VeeKee James, Xtrabrides, Tubo, and CEO Luminee are popular among Nollywood stars and could be part of the show and we hope to see them this year. These things create social media/viral moments, which will promote certain fashion brands, and make other brands curious to jump on the content types that can create this type of buzz.

The world reacts differently to influencer-led distribution approach. It's proved effective in music - with TikTok stars like Bella Poarch signing major label deals, or with Michelle Obama starting a successful podcasts series on Spotify, or with Temi Otedola, taking on an acting role.

The flywheel of using popular faces to model clothes and walk the runway will not just aid certain brands, but it will also boost the profile of the Lagos Fashion Week.

Without offence to anyone, we are currently short-staffed on Nigerian supermodels. Tall, slim Unilag student are all well and good. In fact, some of these women have a lot of potential. Yes, some have walked the Lagos Fashion Week show and have gone on to be international models, but we need them to be big here first and walk Nigerian runways as stars.

Perhaps, Lagos Fashion Week can use its profile to break new models, by working with major agencies to unearth gems. Some will argue against the sustainability of this point, due to the comparative infancy of the Nigerian fashion industry, based on metrics of cashflow positive fashion brands and the ability of citizens to able to afford decently priced apparel.

But the growth of the Nigerian fashion space has to be seen as multifaceted. Just as we are showcasing, we also need to create stars and then successful fashion brands. Nothing can be left to chance. Even if some of the supermodels that Lagos Fashion Week breaks leave the country for greener pastures abroad, the most important thing should be the pipeline that keeps churning out newer models.

And that's why the organizers of the Fashion Week can further influence the ability to unearth fashion models.

There are some models who you’d see in Andrea Iyamah’s show, Lady Biba’s Instagram page and other fashion labels but you barely even know their names.

The notoriety and popularity of people like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner is a driving force in a fashion that’s now surprisingly absent in Nigerian fashion. We used to have Oluchi and Agbani Darego, but now we have limited fashion girls in Nigeria.

Certainly, Nigerian designers have the creativity and talent to compete on an international level but they need to open up themselves, collaborate, allow inclusivity and push the boundaries of their creativity beyond the shores of Nigeria.

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