Last week, we spoke with Olusoji Awofesobi on the present state of the fashion shows sub-sector of Nigeria’s fashion industry. This week, we explore the unique challenges and opportunities that fashion designers and entrepreneurs in the fashion shows sector have.
Olusoji Awofesobi is the founder of Ibadan Urban Fashion Week (IUFW) a platform that seeks to develop the growth of fashion in Africa by planning amazingly creative shows. This year, IUFW will host the 3rd edition of its fashion show and is open to partnerships from other brands.
To read the first part of this interview with Olusoji Awofesobi, click here.
Attracting sponsors to a fashion show is mainly about branding
According to Awofesobi, fashion show organisers in Nigeria have to learn to brand their shows better. When a fashion show is held, the organisers need to make it clear that it is not just a roadside fashion show, it is something serious. Once attendees see that there is a meaning and an intent put into your fashion show, they will buy into it.
As a fashion show organiser, you have to have a side hustle you do. This assures sponsors that you are not just coming to take their money and disappear. This also helps you in cases where your event doesn’t go as planned and you don’t make any money off it.
Fashion shows are a win-win for everyone involved
Making profit from fashion shows come majorly from the sales of tickets. It is the primary way fashion events, and all other events, make money. Another way fashion shows make money is through sponsors. After they have cost all it will take to hold the fashion shows and sponsors come in, they find that they have made about 30 per cent profit or so.
Fashion designers also make money off fashion shows. By displaying their fashion items at these events, they begin to make sales. Even if they make no sales at the event, many times, they get prospective clients who eventually patronise them from the show.
At fashion shows, however, fashion designers should be more concerned about other benefits they can gain outside of making money there. These benefits include free coverage and getting more prospective clients from these events, clients that will become loyal to the brand. That’s a huge win in the long run because more customers mean more income and profit for the designers.
“For fashion designers, I don’t think their aim should be about making instant sales or profit. Yes, I understand that they paid to be at the show, but I think should be more interested in the exposure and feedback they get from these events.”
There is also the part of the sponsors. Most sponsors at fashion show events do not expect to make monetary gain from the events or to get back what they gave. Fashion shows organisers have to find ways to be creative and spontaneous with the benefits they offer sponsors. If they are impressed enough by the offer, they usually give their money freely knowing they will also benefit.
The fashion shows sector in Nigeria has not grown enough yet to need official bodies in place to govern them
In Nigeria, there is no official body that regulates how fashion shows are done. The most important thing to have in place to host fashion shows is a registered brand with the CAC. So, there are no policies in place to regulate how fashion shows are done. However, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism requires every fashion show organiser to put the state government’s logo at their shows and obtain a letter of support for their events.
Unlike in other parts of the world where bodies like the CFDA and BFC regulate how fashion shows are one, Nigeria has no such body. Although these bodies are sure to help the growth of the fashion shows sector in Nigeria, for now, they are not quite needed yet. Nigeria is not ready for it yet.
“It will be a great idea to have bodies like the CFDA regulate how fashion shows are done in Nigeria. It will help the growth of the industry. However, I don’t think there is a need for it yet, I don’t think Nigeria is ready for it yet. I think if such a body is put in place, it will mainly favour elite fashion shows. I believe we should still be allowed the time to grow first before we start considering that.”
Nigeria is majorly at par with foreign fashion shows
For countries abroad, fashion has gone beyond wearing an outfit to being a culture and way of life for them. That is one major difference between us and them. In Nigeria, fashion is more of a way to show off. Not everybody here gets that fashion should be a means of expression for them.
In many other ways, some of the fashion shows in Nigeria are at par with foreign fashion shows. This stands for shows like GT Fashion Week and Lagos Fashion Week. These fashion weeks compete with those abroad because they have the right platform and do the things these shows do. They also have the same designers coming for their fashion shows as those abroad and have had international news coverage.
Fashion shows in Nigeria have their challenges
The major challenge fashion shows face is a lack of funding. Since in many states in Nigeria, the fashion shows sector is still in its infancy, they cannot thrive on their own. Everything about hosting a fashion week is hinged on money and so funding and sponsorships are needed.
Asides from funding, the fashion shows sector requires more partnerships from other sectors. They require sponsors outside of those that offer monetary gain. They include event planners, event decor, props, photographers, media houses, photojournalists, social media influencers and so on. These people coming to partner with fashion shows help make it a success because fashion shows are made up of these things. They are mainly bout the event venue, decor, lights, ambience, and props. Once fashion shows have these, less money is needed for the event itself.
Currently, many of these others ask for exorbitant prices for their services. For instance, events centres charge fashion shows organisers the same price they charge for weddings. These prices do not favour start-up fashion show brands because they just cannot afford it. There is no way they can hold unique events without having sponsors from these other industries.
Fashion designers benefit a great deal from fashion shows
For fashion designers, fashion shows prove to be very beneficial. Firstly, they help with branding. When fashion designers show up at fashion shows, they get their pictures taken by professional photographers. They can then use these images to build their portfolios and build their websites.
Secondly, fashion shows help bring out the creativity of designers that attend the events. By coming in and seeing the designs of other designers, they are pushed to do better for themselves. Fashion shows also help fashion designers make more profit by gaining new customers, get greater visibility and network with others.