The Director-General of the Development Agenda of Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Mr. Seye Oyeleye, has urged Nigerian fashion designers to embrace technology in order to be able to compete with international brands. He spoke on Friday, December 14, 2018 at the Maiden edition of the South-West Fashion Summit (SWFS) held at Nustreams Conference & Culture Centre, Ibadan.
The theme of the summit was “Understanding the business of Fashion in the 21st Century”.
Oyeleye who was a guest speaker at the summit said that the fashion industry is one of the major contributions to economic growth which as put the nation in the international spectrum.
In his words: “I am elated that we are here to expand the discourse on an economic sector that everyone can relate to. The fashion industry has proven to be one of the major contributions to the nation’s economic growth. As a matter of fact, the African fashion industry is said to be worth 50 billion dollars and that’s far behind scratching the surface. In its various dimensions, it has tremendously evolved over the years and has constantly put the nation in the international spectrum.”
The DG said fashion has now become a profession and not just a trade for the uneducated as it used to be in the past.
“Fashion has clearly evolved from being a trade for the uneducated girl child or for individuals who only engage in it to pass time and soon move on to other things. Fashion is now profession that has become a force to reckon with in the scheme of things. The likes of Deola Sagoe, Duro Olowu, Lisa Folawiyo, Ade Bakare, Folarin Coker, Femi Olayebi, Lanre Da-Sylva Ajayi, and so many others have been at the forefront of the fashion business, changing the narrative and putting Nigeria and in fact, Africa on the brink of global relevance.”
According to Oyeleye, “Creativity and originality are key things that appear to have stood the Nigerian fashion industry out although that does not necessarily mean that there are no visible gaps that require constant improvement”, he urged designers to make use of technology as a medium to promote their brands so as to reduce the importation foreign brands.
“It is rather a concern that despite the hard work put in by our designers, the country still spends $3billion annually on importing foreign brands. The reason for this anomaly would not be far from the quality and fitting of made in Nigeria items and the lack of sophisticated technology to design pieces that meet consumer expectation. The anecdote to this lies solely in technology. Fashion designers and retailers have to be more aware of what’s new and can optimize customer satisfaction on a global scale. As the world is emerging, there is need for the industry to be more creative in its processes. ”
He however pointed out that there is a need for networking at the summit in other to facilitate growth and development .
“Let us not forget that cross fertilization of ideas is a key outcome that should stem from this summit. The Southwest Fashion industry needs to leverage the opportunities and strengths of each element to facilitate growth and advancement. This resonates strongly with Goal 17 of the 2030 Global goals which promotes collaboration.”
Mr Oluseye pointed our that fashion designing should be included in the courses taught in institutions and existing fashion schools should collaborate.
“The Southwest needs to also quickly utilize these fashion moguls who have evolved and become house hold names to prevent brain drain. Fashion designing should be upgraded beyond mere exposure of students to occasional vocational studies. It should be a profession taught in established institutions. Existing fashion schools in the Southwest should collaborate more effectively as this would better position them for funding from government and non-government quarters.”
He finally encouraged everyone who is passionate about fashion not to give up even though there are challenges and bottlenecks in the sector that might discourage them.
In an interview on the sidelines of the event, the summit convener, Atinuke Smith explained that the inspiration behind the programme is to help young people coming into the industry get it right.
Smith, the CEO of Datinas fashion design, also said that her vision is to help young designers to see how they can evolve their business using technology and also export their products.
The fashion entrepreneur explained further that the summit will hold yearly, saying the next one will be a Master class that will break up into groups and mentor people in areas of their specialization.