Why “Fashion Beyond Stitches” you ask??? Well the name was coined after several days of deliberation on how exactly to pass my message across to various stakeholders in the fashion industry. After months of operating in the Nigerian Fashion Industry as a designer, I was faced with so many challenges, I thought it was simply ridiculous that every single person in the industry seemed to be facing so many issues in their various fashion businesses and no one was willing to do anything about it.
Coming from a totally different professional background and studying Fashion in an environment that seemed to work, you can imagine the culture shock when I came back with all my “skills” and high hopes that I was about to revolutionalize the Nigerian Fashion Industry, then BAM!… I was faced with the reality of the situation. It’s one thing to learn fashion the “right” way in a structured environment, it’s another to apply the knowledge in an Industry that had absolutely no clue what the Industry was about or worse, was unwilling to change its mindset!
Yes there is so much money to be made here, no doubt, but truth is, more often than not, most fashion designers in Nigeria have been faced with the reality that although their bank accounts enjoy a lot of cash inflows, on closer look, their businesses were actually running at a loss. Even the renowned designers in the Industry still complain about how things just don’t work in this environment! Of course there is the “Nigerian Factor” (whatever that means…) then the electricity issue, the lack of adequate fabrics and supplies for our creations, and the most important thing vital to the success of any fashion establishment… tailors! Goodness, let’s not even get started on the tailors.
Now seeing that we operate in a highly fragmented industry with simply no structures or regulations in place one would think it would only be natural for us designers to come together with one voice and work together to build the industry but NO!…we are too busy competing with ourselves and not looking ahead enough to realize that collaboration is the only way this industry can move forward.
Now the problem not only lies with our employees but also with us, the designers, and the markets we serve. Now the environment expects the designer to create the concept, create the patterns (if they actually work with patterns), do the “cutting”, sew the garments, arrange for the fittings (oh…sorry I forgot…the average customer does not even realize that there is a need to come for a fitting and some of us do not bother to tell them), market our products, plan towards the fashion shows….the list is endless! The average designer does so much, there’s little wonder why a lot of them break down or abandon the business for something less strenuous. I have renewed respect for our local tailors who churn clothes out in less than a day. Let’s ignore the fact that most of them engage in pliagiarism but how they do it?! I have no clue. Never mind that more often than not, there are errors with the garments or the finishing but putting together a garment in one day?! Amazing!
Why I established this section on this blog?! To try and create awareness on how better this Industry can function to make life easier for all stakeholders in the Industry. First we need to realize that there is so much more to fashion than mere sewing and because one is a designer or would like to plug into the fashion industry does not necessarily mean one has to become a dressmaker. In fact there are so many other things our Industry is lacking that people can make so much money from if only they knew where to look.
I have tried to find different avenues to spread my message and have succeeded a bit in the past, but I decided to go back to blogging and put “my fingers to my keyboard” to continue to talk about an area of fashion most of us do not discuss… the nitty gritty of how fashion really works. Even I am still learning… BUT I am hoping this blog will become a form of educational resource for anyone remotely interested in or already participating in the Industry such as designers, students, entrepreneurs, illustrators, photographers, I.T Personnel and even accountants. I think the Industry has been neglected far enough and if we do not take ourselves seriously, no one else will. I want graduates to scramble to work with designers the same way job-seekers scramble to work with banks and oil companies. It will take a while but we all know that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.
So here’s hoping you enjoy our blog, learn from us and also share your knowledge with us and spread the message.