Monday, April 25, 2022

Nigerian Fashion Industry: From Classics to Contemporary Styles By Jemimah Otueroro


Nigerian fashion industry has undergone several changes over the years. It is constantly renewing itself by taking parts of the old and mixing it with the new, yet retaining its attraction, flavour, grandeur and elegance.

In the 1960s down to the early 90s, so many fashion trends were adopted in Nigeria by both men and women to reflect the prevalent fashion signs of the times. During these times, women predominantly wore long dresses and head ties of different locally-made fabrics, made into oversized and fitted outfits depending on their choices, and complemented them with neatly trimmed afros sprayed with hair moisturisers to make the hairdos sparkling and shinning. During this period, miniskirts and fitted tops also became popular in Nigerian fashion industry.

However, the innovations and growth of the 21st century fashion industry made possible by fast fashion, which has made access to trendy clothes cheaper, has redefined the fashion industry all around the world. Presently, the trend has shifted to long dresses with deep long slits, either in front, at the back or at both sides and complemented with either braided hairdo or Brazilian hair. Then, miniskirts with fitted tops became miniskirts with crop tops with sleeves, sleeveless or an off-shoulder revealing the boobs or stomach.

Meanwhile, the men were not left out; as during this fashion evolution, men rocked boot-legged pants, tightly-fitted shirts with loud prints, tapped by a killer afro. But, the modern fashion industry made significant changes; it moved the fashion train from boot-legged trousers to fitted trousers (also known as pencil trousers) with fitted shirts adorned with unique designs either with a long sleeves or a turtle neck shirt, complemented with a neat low hair cut.

However, traditional attires were not left out of this fashion revolution. While women wore baggy-sleeves buba (blouse) over an iro (wrapper) that stopped anywhere from a little above the knee to mid-thigh, men wore agbada (lengthy blouse for men) and danshikis (mid-length baggy shirts) ; a trend that started in the 70s but still popular in the modern fashion today. To add glamour and beauty to traditional attires, some bubas are now designed with beautiful crystal-like stones that glints while under the sun or in the dark with lights. Nowadays, Ankara fabrics has gained prominence and wider acceptance in Nigeria social setting; people are using them at parties and social engagements to the extent that a new movement –the aso-ebi (family attire) –evolved from the use of this special fabric as a means of identity and to add colour and glamour to events.

Despite these significant improvements in our fashion space, American or western fashion still influences what majority of Nigerians wear. Although, some Nigerians are embracing traditional clothing and even wearing them to official and social functions, many still see traditional/cultural attires as meant for traditional/cultural events alone. In fact, hair trends such as Brazilian and Human hair have become the popular hair culture among women alongside natural hair is making some people dump relaxers and embracing their natural hair. Also, head scarves in form of turbans and caps and even afro are becoming acceptable.

Therefore, the speed at which Nigerian fashion evolves beautifully and uniquely everyday with creative fashion designers and fashion shows taking Nigerian fashion around the world shows that Nigerian fashion has shifted from classics to contemporary and becoming a force driven by passion; it is here to stay and expand continually.


 Jemimah Otueroro is a fashion designer and a Mass Communication student at the National Open University of Nigeria. She loves creativity in all forms especially in relation to the fashion industry.