It’s been 4 months since I moved back to Nigeria…
Settling in has been quite smooth and easy thanks to the friends and family I have, but while my life is almost back to normal, there’s one aspects I’m still teaching myself and learning to deal with here in Nigeria – Fashion Shopping.
When it comes to places to eat, places to hangout, getting good and reliable internet connection, dealing with the banking system and transportation, I think I’ve got them all sorted out… but the issue of where to buy clothes for certain occasions, where to get a new bag or clutch, where to get new shoes has been a major struggle.
Now I’m not saying that such places do not exist. I’ve come across quite a few stores but I think the aspect I struggle with and my main concern is cost and variety!
Most of the time when I spot an item I like, I make an effort to find out how much it cost. For some reason, most Nigerian brands do not make the cost of their products public knowledge, i.e. It’s not listed on any website or the website doesn’t function well and even on social media the information isn’t there. I find myself always having to send a Direct Message via Instagram to find out the cost and availability of certain items. More often than not, the cost I’m told is always way over my budget and I’m sure it’s way over the budget of most people I know… then again, I think it’s already been established that most Nigerian brands have a target market that includes the elite of Nigerian only.
Nonetheless, I think working in the fashion business has somewhat given me and insight into why this is so and why certain items cost as much as they do. Having worked in various aspects of the business – i.e. Material sourcing, Production, Quality assurance, etc, I can relate to the challenges most fashion businesses have to deal with and understand why some product cost may seems outrageous but actually aren’t. Now I’m not disputing the fact that some brands are just simply put, overpriced #Granted but not all brands are like that.
Having also purchased items from a few other brands as well such as Bibi Lawrence and Shop Maju, attended a few shopping and collection viewing parties like the Le Rouge event I went to a few weeks back, I feel we definitely need to give some brands a break and appreciate what they do. For the quality and finishing on some of the items out there, the price tag placed on them is not that bad. I think the issue comes when we feel cheated because we don’t see where the 20k we spent on the dress went to.
There’s also a massive gap in the market as hardly any brand seems to cater to those earning a salary between N30,000 – N70,000 where spending N15,000 on a top takes away the better part of your pay. Hence, a large part of the population (even myself on some occasions) opt for a more cheaper alternative – Thrift shopping – A.K.A. Okrika or Shopping for Second hand items.
This method of shopping most times offers you really good quality items at VERY Affordable rates as long as you know where and when to go shopping. I have recognized many brands names and even specific items at many of such markets but whether you shop at Thrift markets or purchase items from boutique brands, the issue of variety still remains regardless of the price. Only God knows when and how Nigeria will get to that point where every stylista can shop to suit their personal style solely within Nigeria.
Finding pieces to get you on board with the latest trends always seems like such a chore, talk less of being able to find cheaper alternatives to these trends. This is never an issue in the western society and High Street Brands are always ready to provide you with cheaper alternatives to the items you want. So then the question comes in – Why don’t Nigerian brand do same?
Lack of material maybe? High cost of certain aspects of the production process? No market for such items? What exactly is the issue?
I can now clearly understand why my family always sent a long and non-exhaustive list of items they’ll like me to get for them whenever I came on holiday. Buying in foreign currency still remains much cheaper than shopping within Nigeria and seems like it will be so quite a few more years to come.
I’m not entirely sure how the issue can be fixed – How the cost of items can be reduced, How we can get more brand catering to our everyday BASIC style needs, How we can get more variety within the market, How we can FIX the Fashion Retail industry in Nigeria… but while I figure it out alongside other fashion enthusiasts, I’m going to continue visiting my thrift stores, purchasing items from Nigerian brands whenever I can and oh yeah, buy a thing or two from foreign brands whenever the opportunity presents itself.
But I’m curious, where do you get YOUR clothes in Nigeria?