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Between the trend and the business

By  Morenike Taire

Once upon a time, it was perfectly normal for women to go to bed in pyjamas. If you were the narcissistic type who wished you could go to bed in makeup, you would   probably wear the stylish silk or satin types designed to skim your figure. Otherwise you would go for the regular cotton tailored type- the ones that appealed to sensible people.

But going to bed in pyjamas has just become passé, and if you went to bed in anything but the birthday suit it would probably be something skimpy and significant only on an aesthetic basis.

Pyjamas, it would appear, has taken on the quality of water.   Not only is it essential it is also incredibly flexible. These days, pyjamas are reserved for day wear, along with its younger cousin, the kimono, which seem to have replaced shirts and jackets respectably. No trendy gathering is complete without women sporting these trends.

But then as Nigerians, trends are what we know how to do best. Recently one of our sweetheart superstars, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, popularly known as ‘Wizkid’ or ‘Wizzie’, rudely told off an American DJ who even just dropped the hint of a suggestion that Nigerians only listen to Nigerian music because we are not aware of offerings from other places. “We just prefer to club to our own music”, he painstakingly explained to the DJ, as though the latter were a dunce. Nigerians loved it.

No doubt, it is incredible what Wizkid and his contemporaries have been able to achieve with the space they had 10-15 years ago. It had been a restricted space, once dominated by uber-talented greats such as Felix Liberty, Chris Okotie and Majek Fashek who did not have the benefit of management capable of using their talent and abilities to create something larger than themselves.

From the gaping vacuum left by the exit of the ‘hungry artists’ whose personal wealth fell far short of their popularity, a new crew had occupied, expanded the scope, created stimulation by the introduction of competition and created a value chain from which thousands of jobs continue to be created and capacity built.

It is this capacity that assures the sustainability from which stakeholders in that industry are reaping bountifully now; and so when international musical producers and promoters are falling over themselves to sign on Wizkid, DBanj and Davido, it is not because of any noise they are suddenly making or that they are more talented than their predecessors. It is that they have taken their legitimate position as a part of the global music industry that cannot be ignored. It is important to note that all this was achieved without government’s intervention.

Copying trends and making noise have sadly not translated the massive potential the fashion industry boasts into securing for  Nigeria  a legitimate place as one of the world’s fashion capitals on equal terms as  Milan,  London,  Paris  and  New York. Surely we boast an incredible amount of talent and probably the biggest concentration of stylish men and women in the world.

It is the beginning of fashion season across the world’s capitals. By October, billions of dollars would have been injected into economies. Buyers would have spent billions stocking up their department stores. Hotels and airlines would have formed alliances. Hundreds of millions would have gone to fashion magazines in advertising revenue. The African Fashion Week was recently concluded in  Lagos. On the face of it, it was a resounding success with scores of women given the opportunity to model and showcase their designs. Foreigners came to watch and avail themselves of the opportunity to buy African clothing, most of which they regard as souvenirs. If they were Dutch, the fabric probably came from their country anyway.

A massive amount of noise has been made in the leather works industry. Every so often fairs are organized like the one recently done in Lagos state , co-opted as part of the Lagos @50 celebrations.   These fairs take on the form of jamborees, with key government officials showing up for photo opportunities and looking the part. Rather than show us figures that suggest or prove that government intervention has expanded the percentage of the contributions this industry has made to our takings in the non-oil sector or the number of people it has demonstrably brought out of poverty; or even the sustainability it has brought into the climate in general, they merely suggest that those industries are glamorous and that those who go into them will get photo opportunities with government officials.

Our fixation and obsession with attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) at the expense of local investment as we have been taught in foreign business schools might yet be the death of us. It is unfortunate that the Buhari administration has not only inherited this obsession but has also adopted it with all enthusiasm.    We must immediately discard and forget the notion that we can create wealth without creating value across board.




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