The fashion industries in the United States and Europe are well-known by many but few know much about the booming fashion industry in Nigeria. Nigeria is a significant fashion spot in Africa, where many different fashion shows take place and is known for the different designs that are produced. Nigeria’s fashion has been the stepping stone and example for fashion industries in other countries and continues to boom today. They have designers that not only have businesses in Nigeria but also in Ghana and other countries. In order to fully understand the Nigerian fashion industry and their boom we must start from the bottom, the traditional aspects of things. From there you can see how their fashion industry began and became an example for many western and southern countries in Africa.
The traditional attire in Nigeria is made from different types of fabric called ankara, lace, adire and jacquard. These different cloths are used to make beautiful clothing for both men and women. The clothing can be made for an individual or also for a husband and wife so that they are matching, as well as their children. There is more variety in the women’s clothing than there is for men. Women wear buba, kaba, iro, gele and iborun or ipele which are different styles. Buba, pronounced boo-ba, is a loose top that goes on top of the iro which is a long cloth that one wraps around their waist and tuck in on the side. The buba and iro are made from the same material and are always worn together. Kaba is a one piece dress that is mainly made from the ankara material. Kaba can have many different styles to it which makes it the most developed of all the different styles. The gele, pronounced gay-lay, is a rectangular scarf, wrapped around the head that makes a bit of a crunching noise and is not as soft as the ankara material. The gele comes in many different colors and can be worn with the iro, buba and the kaba. Lastly is the iborun which is usually the remaining cloth from one’s material used to sew a design and is wrapped around the waist. It can also be wrapped around one’s shoulders if one gets cold. This is what the women in Nigeria wear. The men also wear buba but for the bottom part they wear sokoto, pronounced show-ko-toe. With the entire outfit of the buba and sokoto the men also wear a fila which is Yoruba for a hat. One other clothing attire men wear is called the agbada, pronounced ah-gba-da. The agbada is a big piece of fabric that has an embroidered design on the front around the neck and is worn like a shirt. It is a lot larger than the buba in size and heavier because it is mainly made from lace.
The traditional fashion of Nigeria is what has pushed the inspiration and boom of the Nigerian fashion industry. It is the use of ankara and the style of kaba that has transformed their fashion. Many of the different styles today originated from kaba meaning that they are also dress styles but the difference is the designs behind them. Kaba is a simple concept and Ankara is used for mostly all the clothing so Nigerians put a western style to the kaba with the use of Ankara. The discovery of this great use and new design has brought many new designs and designers in Nigeria, Africa and the West.
One of the businesses that specializes in making modern style clothing from Ankara in Nigeria is called Asotodun which means sweet clothing and is pronounced ah-sho-toe-dune. This business offers what is called measure to service, meaning they take your measurements and sew the style you want from a chosen fabric. In Nigeria and other African countries, traditional clothes cannot really be bought at a store with a standard size but instead is made to fit; therefore many people are measured in order for their clothes to be made. Another Nigerian business is AAMAA à la mode which was started by a designer named Toyosi Mobereola in 2009. The business is continuing to grow by making different designs and just like Asotodun they also make measure to wear clothing. The difference between the two businesses is AAMAA à la mode also makes a ready wear line which can be purchased on the spot. They provide high-end fashion and affordable ready to wear lines. It is from traditional clothing that many were inspired to create the fashions people wear today in Nigeria and contributes to the booming fashion industry.
Women are not the only ones who have clothing in the ever growing fashion industry even though it is mainly targeted towards them. Men also have clothing, although not as many options, but there are designers in Nigeria who make fashionable clothes specifically for men. One designer is Clement Mudiaga Enajemo who founded Mudi Africa. He has over 18 years of experience and began his business 15 years ago. Ever since he opened his business he travels to different parts of Nigeria and other parts of Africa such as Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal to market his business. In his designs he uses the ankara cloth to make embroidered and decorated shirts for men and creates matching pants. His designs are well known and are worn by several popular actors in Nollywood, the Nigerian movie industry. Enajemo’s use of ankara for men’s clothing is one that is unique which explains the growth of his business. He has not only helped the growth of his business through his designs but also Nigeria’s fashion industry.