Buy Nigerian they said. It will help grow the Naira. And so, dutiful, patriotic Nigerian that I am, I decided to join the movement. I followed every famous Nigerian designer that you can think of on Instagram. You know the names: Deola Sagoe, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, Lisa Folawiyo. These brands produce international standard pieces and they charge international standard prices. The clothes they make are worth every penny they charge but the truth is, my hand never reach to pay that price. As my cousin, Jessica would say, ‘I’m not in that blessing bracket yet.’ I wanted to buy Nigerian but I also wanted to eat. At the end of the day, no be me kill the Naira. Abi, I be CBN Governor?
So I started my hunt for affordable Nigerian brands that I could wear to my speaking engagements. I’m not keeping count but last year, I had at least thirty speaking gigs promoting my most recent novel. This year, in May alone, I have ten. Why do I want to wear Nigerian? First and foremost because made in Nigeria pieces look good on an international stage. Nigerian designers make unique pieces that always have people stopping me in the street asking, ‘Oh my gosh, where did you get that?” Secondly, of course, I’m a Nigerian and I want to support our industry.
So this May, my latest novel Welcome to Lagos is coming out in America and I’m going on a multicity book tour. I’ll be landing in Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New York and a host of other cities. I’ll be speaking about my book in bookstores, churches, at least one University and I’ll also be doing some press. I shot this video to promote the tour.
I’ve known about the tour for a few months and slowly and steadily, I’ve been stocking up on my affordable Nigerian brands. Now, ‘affordable’ is of course relative. Deola Sagoe is not affordable for me but it would be to someone whose surname was Dangote. My affordable is under N25,000 and in fact, only one piece that will be featured in this series reached this upper limit. Most of the items are under N10,000 with quite a few pieces costing N5,000. I paid my own money for these clothes. None of the items that I will write about were free. No be say I no like awoof o. If you wan’ dash me, dash o. Just that for this series, I sent DMs and emailed like every regular customer.
As we go through the series, I’ll spill the tea on how I buy Nigerian from London, despite not having a Nigerian bank account. I’ll share my thoughts on some of the speed bumps that deter people from buying Nigerian like poor customer service. Poor Customer Service! Louder once more for the people at the back: POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE. This isn’t a name and shame series though. Think of it more as name and praise. Any bad experiences will be written about anonymously. But I’ll take time to dwell on my excellent experiences. I see you Fashpa and Okiki Marinho.
To give a little taster, here’s a piece from Jayke’s Closet that I wore to deliver a talk at the University of Reading. I bought it for N6,000, just under £11 at today’s exchange rate. Buying Naija does not get any better than that.
To meet Chibundu on the stops of her tour, click here.