Unlocking Africa’s Fashion Potential: UNESCO Report Reveals a $15.5 Billion Industry
Over the past decade, Nigeria’s fashion industry has experienced an extraordinary renaissance. The bustling runways of Lagos, Nigeria, are a testament to the unstoppable rise of Africa’s fashion industry. A recent UNESCO report, unveiled during Lagos Fashion Week, sheds light on this meteoric growth, which is driven by both local and international demand. The African fashion industry is currently valued at $15.5 billion in annual exports, but its potential knows no bounds, with the right investment and infrastructure. The United Nations cultural body envisions a tripling of these earnings over the next decade.
Fashion designer Ejiro Amos-Tafiri reflects on this newfound appreciation for the rich cultural tapestry of Nigeria. “It’s people now coming to realize that there is a lot of treasure in the Nigerian culture and particularly in the fashion industry,” she notes. Over the past decade, Nigeria’s fashion industry has seen exponential growth, fueled by a combination of factors such as increased global exposure, the rise of social media, and a growing appreciation for African aesthetics and craftsmanship. This transformation has positioned Nigeria as a vibrant hub for creativity and innovation in the fashion world.
Across the continent, fashion’s influence extends beyond garments, permeating movies, textiles, accessories, and fine crafts, each imbued with a deep history and symbolic significance. Amos-Tafiri emphasizes the inherent sociability and vivaciousness of African culture, qualities seamlessly reflected in its fashion. The growth of the African fashion market is further accelerated by the rise of e-commerce, a trend highlighted in the UNESCO report. Africa leads the world in mobile device web traffic, creating new marketing opportunities that empower young entrepreneurs to establish fashion brands with global reach.
One such entrepreneur is Ozinna Anumudu, who launched her online fashion store, ozinna.com. She attests to the exponential growth of Nigeria’s fashion industry, fueled in large part by social media. “The growth rate of the Nigerian fashion industry in the last 10 years has been quite exponential. Social media has played a big role in this,” she explains, noting that women from Australia to France now have easy access to Nigerian clothing.
Celebrating and supporting local brands, annual fashion shows like Lagos Fashion Week are instrumental in showcasing African culture and crafts, blending various colors and styles. Ozinna Anumudu believes that African designers are on par with their Western counterparts in terms of design and style. She envisions a future where Nigerian fashion achieves global recognition, bridging the gap between design excellence and production capabilities.