In a remarkable feat for Nigeria’s expanding fashion industry, visionary moguls are taking center stage in championing the ‘Made in Africa’ narrative worldwide.
A recent update to a 2019 report highlights the industry’s impressive valuation at approximately $4.7 billion, constituting a significant 15% of the overall Sub-Saharan market value estimated at $31 billion, according to data from Euromonitor.
According to nairametrics.com, as the “textile, apparel, and footwear” sector experiences substantial growth, propelled by increasing demand and forward-thinking initiatives such as Lagos Fashion Week and GTCo Fashion Week, Lagos has emerged as a pivotal hub for the Nigerian Fashion Industry.
In the first half of 2023, the sector played a significant role in the manufacturing landscape, contributing N2.76 trillion, accounting for 17.7% of the total manufacturing value, and an impressive 51.2% of the overall value generated, reaching a total of N5.4 trillion for the year.
Harnessing the power of social media, Nigerian fashion has gained global prominence, spotlighting innovation and creativity that cements its standing in the African fashion arena.
Despite encountering challenges, Nairametrics anticipates that by the end of 2023, the Nigerian fashion industry will spearhead Africa’s fashion exports This projection aligns with the sector’s growing influence on the global stage, with Africa’s fashion exports commanding a substantial $15.5 billion valuation.
The industry is poised to assert itself as a frontrunner, driven by an escalating global demand for authentically crafted “Made in Africa” designs. Underscored by UNESCO’s recent report on Africa’s potential to take the lead in shaping the global fashion landscape.
Amidst a myriad of opportunities within the sector, a group of CEOs assumes a pivotal role, garnering international attention and elevating the market with distinctive “Made in Nigeria” offerings.
These seasoned leaders, boasting a decade-long presence, significant growth impact, and noteworthy contributions to the national GDP, stand out as some of the key architects propelling Nigeria’s billion-dollar fashion industry to unprecedented heights.
In this review, Nairametrics introduces some of the leading fashion trailblazers who have become the quintessence of influence and success in the burgeoning landscape of Nigeria’s fashion industry.
Omoyemi Akerele- CEO Style House Files, Founder Lagos Fashion Week
Omoyemi Akerele is the founder and artistic director of Style House Files, a creative development agency catering to Nigerian and African designers.
Style House Files specializes in collaborating with Nigerian brands on image development, creative direction, brand positioning, and retail strategies.
Akerele plays a pivotal role in providing these brands with crucial international exposure, facilitating showcases at prestigious events like Pitti Immagine in Italy and Lagos Fashion and Design Week.
Established by Akerele in 2011, Lagos Fashion and Design Week (LFDW) operates on a four-day schedule, featuring a curated list of emerging designers and fashion entrepreneurs.
In partnership with the British Fashion Council, LFDW has significantly elevated the profile of the Nigerian fashion industry.
The show has garnered international attention and accolades from prominent journalists such as Suzy Menkes and Cristina Manfredi, while also attracting a multitude of international buyers.
Before Style House Files, Akerele served as the senior style editor at the popular fashion magazine True Love.
She holds a law degree from the University of Lagos and a master’s degree in international economic law from the University of Warwick.
She is a special advisor to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
Deola Sagoe-CEO Founder Deola
Deola Sagoe, founder of “Deola” is a leading lady of African haute fashion from Ondo State in Nigeria.
Deola has been at the cutting edge of high fashion since 1989 and became the first black woman to present a collection at AltaRoma, Rome’s celebrated fashion week, back in 2004.
Her globally appealing style has earned her an enviable clientèle that ranges from Africa’s first ladies to society girls like Lydia Hearst, top model Alek Wek, and famous personalities such as Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith.
Deola Sagoe’s entrepreneurial spirit is deeply ingrained, hailing from a distinguished lineage of Nigerian business magnates and proprietors of the Eilzade Group.
Initially established by her father and late mother, the enterprise is now overseen by her brother, marking a legacy of business acumen within the Sagoe family.
Tara Durotoye-CEO/Founder House of Tara
Tara Fela-Durotoye, a trailblazing beauty entrepreneur, revolutionized a transformative shift in Nigeria’s professional makeup industry in the late ’90s.
As the Founder and incumbent CEO of House of Tara International, she holds a prominent position within the Nigerian female entrepreneurship community.
Serving as a thought leader, Tara imparts her extensive 20+ years of industry experience as a thought leader through diverse in-class and online courses, catering to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Acknowledged for her societal impact, Tara passionately advocates for meaningful entrepreneurship, earning her the distinguished title of the poster girl for female entrepreneurship in West Africa.
Under her leadership, House of Tara was named one of Jobberman’s best 100 companies to work for in Nigeria in 2017. House of Tara was established in 1998.
Ejiro Amos-Tafiri- CEO Ejiroamostafiri
Ejiro Amos-Tafiri, CEO and founder of Ejiroamostafiri established her Nigerian women’s fashion brand as a seamless fusion of traditional African attire and contemporary garment construction methods.
Launched in 2010, the brand evolved from her roles at Out of Africa, Zizi Ethnic Clothing, and Tiffany Amber.
Renowned for reinvigorating the Iro and Buba ensemble into the iconic Oleku outfit, Ejiro Amos-Tafiri, an alumna of the US Consulate’s Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, and a YOUWIN grant regional winner, advocates for quality education in Nigeria’s fashion sector.
Her brand collaborates with industry leaders such as Samsung, Vlisco, Belvedere, British Council, Lagos Fashion Week, and Paris Fashion Week.
An exhibitor at GTCo Fashion Weekend, Amos-Tafiri’s collections have graced runways in America, Europe, and various African nations.
Banke Kuku-CEO Banke Kuku
Established in 2011, Banke Kuku, guided by creative director and founder Banke Kuku, is renowned for seamlessly blending West African and Western eclectic influences, and crafting intricate and unique textile designs.
Situated in Lagos, Nigeria, the brand offers a collection of upscale loungewear and lifestyle pieces. With notable appearances at Lagos Fashion Week (2021) and GTCo Fashion Weekend (2023), it marks a significant presence in the fashion landscape.
Renowned Hollywood actress Gabrielle Union joined forces with Banke Kuku in 2022 to unveil a fashion collection commemorating her 50th birthday.
The collaboration resulted in the New York and Company x Banke Kuku collection, with Union modelling select looks.
Stella Ndekile-CEO /Founder NUBAN beauty
At the helm of Nuban Beauty, Founder and CEO Stella Ndekile leads one of Nigeria’s premier beauty brands, providing cosmetic products to the African market.
Notably, NUBAN Beauty is a key participant at the GTCo Fashion Weekend 2023.
As a Serial Entrepreneur and Business Development Strategist, Ndekile brings over 12 years of expertise in management, digital marketing, public speaking, procurement, and process analysis to her diverse professional portfolio.
In addition to her leadership in the beauty sector, Ndekile is the visionary behind St. Nika Apparel, catering to the fashion needs of pregnant women and nursing mothers.
A Medical Laboratory Scientist with a bachelor’s in medical laboratory sciences, she contributed significantly to institutions like the University of Lagos Medical Centre before transitioning to entrepreneurship.
Ohimai Atafo-CEO ATAFO
Renowned Nigerian fashion tailor and founder of the eponymous brand, Mai Atafo, honed his craft at the Savile Row Academy in Leeds, UK.
Following his return in 2002, Atafo held key marketing positions at British American Tobacco and Guinness Nigeria before his resignation in 2010.
Founder of Mai Atafo garnered celebrity acclaim, including from Omowunmi Akinnifesi, Banky W, and IK Osakioduwa, during his tenure at Guinness.
As the Creative Director, he introduced the wedding line “Weddings by Mai” in 2011. Also, Atafo serves as Strategy Director at Firehouse Group and heads the Future Awards Central working committee.
In 2018, he partnered Nivea as the official designer of the skincare company’s ‘Black and White’ collection.
Folake Coker-CEO Tiffany Amber
For nearly three decades, Folake Folarin-Coker, as the CEO of Tiffany Amber, has been a transformative force, redefining women’s self-perceptions and the fashion domain.
Educated in Switzerland and the United Kingdom, she acquired a postgraduate degree in petroleum law, redirecting her passion for fashion upon returning to Nigeria.
In 1998, Folake Folarin-Coker debuted her iconic fashion brand, “Tiffany Amber,” in Lagos.
With four standalone stores and boutiques in Lagos and Abuja, the brand achieved historic significance in 2008 as the first African-based fashion designer to showcase twice at the esteemed New York Fashion Week.
In a recent event, Folake Folarin-Coker unveiled The Tiffany Amber Gardens, a flagship store in Lagos. Her global influence is evident through fashion shows across Africa, Europe, and the United States.
Renowned for dressing supermodel Naomi Campbell in 2019, Folarin-Coker has earned a spot, on Forbes Power Women in Africa, with celebrity admirers including Beyonce, Kelis, Tasha Smith, and Eve.
Nike Ogunlesi-CEO Ruff n Tumble
Nike Ogunlesi, the Founder of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, transformed a modest shop with her and her mother as the primary staff into a globally recognized children’s clothing brand in Nigeria.
Renowned for producing top-tier children’s apparel locally, Ogunlesi addressed a gap in the market, identifying that existing options were either subpar or excessively priced imports.
Her strategic insights positioned Ruff ‘n’ Tumble as a Nigerian children’s clothing industry leader.
Founded in 1996, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble has evolved into a major player in Nigeria’s children’s clothing sector, boasting a warehouse, factory, and multiple retail outlets in key cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Ilorin, and Abuja.
Additionally, it maintains a network of distributors along the West African Coast.
Dumebi Iyamah-CEO Andrea Iyamah
Andrea Iyamah, helmed by Nigerian-Canadian fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah, embodies a clothing line richly influenced by colour and ethnic cultures. Fueled by a fervour for fashion and the arts, Dumebi cultivated her tailoring skills and self-educated on fashion, establishing the A.I. brand at the youthful age of 17.
Acclaimed for its unique and vibrant swimwear, Andrea Iyamah. Going beyond swimwear, the brand excels in ready-to-wear and custom-made special event dresses.
Rooted in African heritage, the brand’s essence has been evident since its inaugural swimwear collection launched in 2013.
His wear has been worn by celebrities such as Michelle Obama, Kate Hudson, Gabrielle Union, Ciara, and Issa Rae.
Oke Maduewesi –CEO/Founder Zaron Cosmetics
Oke Maduewesi, founder of the indigenous beauty brand Zaron Cosmetics, leads a contemporary and innovative cosmetics enterprise.
Boasting 25 franchise outlets and 800+ distributors across Nigeria and other African nations, Aaron not only excels in the beauty sector but also contributes to socio-economic development through job creation, enterprise development, and robust corporate social responsibility.
Zaron Cosmetics, under Oke Maduewesi’s leadership, extends its impactful presence to countries including Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Mauritius, Botswana, Liberia, and Canada. Across these nations, Zaron’s business initiatives foster enterprise and growth.
Aaron Cosmetics’ founder, a featured speaker at the inaugural GTCo Fashion Weekend in 2016, continues to make waves.
Recognized among the 100 businesses showcased at the 6th edition in 2023, Zaron, originating in Leeds, UK in 2010, commenced operations in Lagos, Nigeria, in September 2011.