In Lagos, Nigeria, the runway is busier than ever. A recent UNESCO report unveiled during Lagos Fashion Week highlights the rapid growth of Africa’s fashion industry to meet both local and international demand. Despite its promising trajectory, the sector is currently constrained by insufficient investment.
Valued at $15.5 billion in annual exports, Africa’s fashion industry holds the potential to triple its earnings within a decade with the right investment and infrastructure, as stated by the United Nations cultural body. Fashion designer Ejiro Amos-Tafiri explains, “It’s people now coming to realize that there is a lot of treasure in the Nigerian culture and particularly in the fashion industry.”
Across the continent, fashion has experienced growth in various forms, including textiles, garments, accessories, and fine crafts, all deeply rooted in African culture. Amos-Tafiri notes, “We are very social people. We have such a joie de vivre nature and such a bold personality. So, with all of this, the fashion had to be right there to support and to be part of that growth.”
The demand for African fashion brands is also driven by the expanding e-commerce landscape, a point highlighted in the UNESCO report. With Africa leading the world in mobile device web traffic, new marketing opportunities have emerged, enabling the rise of local fashion brands. Ozinna Anumudu, founder of the online fashion store ozinna.com, notes, “The growth rate of the Nigerian fashion industry in the last 10 years has been quite exponential. Social media has played a big role in this.”
The sector is witnessing substantial international interest, with women from Australia and France now shopping for Nigerian clothing online. Lagos Fashion Week, featuring designers from across the continent, not only celebrates local brands but also provides a market for them. It is an annual showcase of African culture, crafts, and style.
Anumudu believes that African fashion is on par with Western brands in terms of design and style, and she envisions a bright future for the industry with further improvements in production and access to financial capital.