Fashion has always remained an integral fragment of the Nigerian culture. From the “Buba and wrapper” styled outfits for women to the “Agbada” designs for men, Nigerians have always been some of the most fashionable in the world. It has produced some of the best designers globally, both established and upcoming. The women in this industry are keenly championing the growth and expansion of the sector, which is now worth over $1 billion, according to the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria.
Nigerian news website Y!/YNaija.com, in partnership with Leading Ladies Africa project Nigeria’s listed 100 most influential women in Nigeria. These women have contributed in steering the course of history. “They have acknowledged the glass ceiling but they would not allow it hold down their lofty ambitions.”
Below are some of the key players in Nigeria’s budding fashion industry who have distinguished themselves as mentors to upcoming designers.
Bola Balogun: Mrs Bola who grew up in the USA, started her career as a stylist for publications and public figures in New York before moving back to Nigeria in 2005. She was a pioneer fashion stylist and presently runs leading lifestyle branding agency Glam Brand Agency and lifestyle/fashion production company Glam Networks which produced Glam Report TV. “Married with five children, Bola makes it all look achievable.”
Deola Sagoe: One of the fore-runners of the Nigerian fashion industry, Deola has been crafting haut couture pieces and gorgeous designs for over 25 years. The internationally acclaimed fashion designer has placed Nigeria on the world map by winning numerous awards and promoting African fashion. Her daughters are already following these footsteps with their innovative CLAN label designs.
Elohor Aisien: Following the launch of the Beth Modelling Agency, Elohor revolutionized the way fashion and beauty modelling was perceived. This eventually led to the acquisition of franchise for Elite Model Look, and she recently set up Prive events management.
Lisa Folawiyo: She is the founder and creative director of fashion label, Jewel by Lisa. The brand which offers a wide range of clothes and jewelled accessories, has captured attention both within Africa and outside its shores; from Lagos to Cape Town, London, Paris, New York and Hollywood. “With the launch of her diffusion line – J Label, and other household items, Lisa Folawiyo is steadily expanding the ‘jewellette’ empire,” a report by Ventures Africa revealed.
Omoyemi Akerele: Pioneer of Nigeria’s fashion and image consulting industry, Omoyemi Akerele is widely regarded as a driving force in the industry. Style House Files works with Nigerian brands on brand positioning and retail strategies. “Akerele also helps brands gain essential international exposure through presenting showcases at Pitti Immagine in Italy, and through Lagos Fashion and Design Week.”