As part of attempts to grant entrance to market and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Small-Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) of the fashion industry, First Bank of Nigeria Limited partnered with Eventful Limited on its event, fashion souk, a platform that creates an opportunity for players in the fashion industry to exhibit and sell their wares to the thousands of event participants.
Speaking at the event held in Lagos recently, the Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communication, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Ani-Mumuney said the bank has over the years, since its founding, been very supportive of the entrepreneurial space and SMEs, adding that the role of the bank is that of an enabler.
“First Bank has been involved in every sector of the economy since 1894, so if you think about that there is no sector we have not been involved in, in fact, this particular fashion souk, we are the pioneer sponsor and we sponsored it right from when it started.”
Ani-Mumuney explained that the fashion industry over the years has grown incredibly and added that it has helped to grow other businesses.
In her words: “Just like Nigerian music, the fashion industry is still in its infancy. We have great talents and potential in the fashion industry. Let’s consider the developed fashion industry of Italy for instance and the entire value chain of fashion, it tells you that there is a lot to be done. We still need to have fashion zones in core Cities and States, so that within a particular zone, you could have the cutters, buttonhole creation and others.
“The great thing is that we have a market here, but beyond that is that we could easily become the fashion hub for Africa, especially it’s export across continents. The fashion industry is diverse and versatile with many roles carried-out by individuals with uniquely different skill-set. Some persons could focus on finishing; some could focus on sketching, garment making, and other areas. Indeed, Nigeria is fashion freaks, with a large and diverse market.”
Also at the event was Nollywood actor and producer, Kunle Afolayan, who had his clothing line Ire Clothing displayed. Afolayan, the Chief Executive Officer of Ire Clothing said he started the clothing line with just the Kunle Kembe, and presently, it has expanded to about five, six collections.
He also stated that what inspired Ire clothing is because of his love for arts and anything that deals with the Nigerian cultural heritage and helps to document culture, “so, with Ire clothing, we use Africa fabrics, Anakara, Adire, and others.”
Afoloyan explained that he has modified the old Yoruba Kembe style to something that is now pop culture so that the younger generation can also wear it, adding that there are T-shirts and Kunle’s Dansiki which is a bit smaller than the traditional Dansiki, and face caps.
In his words: “The brand story we are trying to tell us that we want people to embrace their own culture and tradition; use it to their advantage and use it to the world. I think the fashion industry is striving and it’s been here for a very long time and it is doing better because a lot of our people are exporting our clothing abroad.”