When one looks at the Nigerian digital fashion space one can’t help but be in awe of the changes and growth that has taken place in a few short years. Taking a stroll down memory lane will have you discovering that once upon a time, finding your feet in the Nigerian fashion industry was as hard as hitting Mariah Carey’s high notes. Requiring a certain level of skill, talent and yes, a healthy dash of luck – but fast forward a few years, some revolutionary thinking, the invention of the iPhone, the creation of a digital e-photo album aka Instagram and a few other things that I either don’t know or can’t start listing, and all of a sudden starting your career started in fashion as a blogger, influencer, designer or journalist is in your hands. Literally.
Is it still hard [to break into fashion]?
Of course, that goes without saying, it’s just not as hard as it once was.
We’ve watched and seen how fashion bloggers and influencers globally moved from being regarded as a sort of odd phenomenon that many people poked fun at, to becoming a force to reckon with that is changing the face of fashion one click and OOTD upload at a time.
The growing Nigerian fashion blogging community/influencer industry is one that has dealt with and met it’s fair share of challenges, it’s growth is quite applaudable especially when one factors in the unique challenges that Nigeria has thrown their way. It’s unprecedented growth has led to an influx of creatives coming into the industry with a dream to find their voice, build a career as a blogger/influencer, work with brands etc however more often than not this isn’t the case as many fashion bloggers find themselves hitting a sort of ceiling early on in their career.
Picture this: Fashion Blogger A loves dressing up, is passionate about fashion and has a pretty great style, starts up a blog or creates an Instagram account, dedicates their time creating what they feel is pretty quality content and well, nothing happens. Months later and still absolutely nothing. Sound frustrating? You bet.
The beautiful and sad part about this is that it isn’t limited to fashion bloggers and influencers but extends to other creatives in the fashion industry – models, photographers etc. A fair number of creatives spend their time putting in the work and creating their best content but hardly get their chance in the sun or their time to shine because more often than not the media’s spotlight seems focused on the already familiar creatives and the new kids on the block never get their chance to shine which in my opinion doesn’t let the industry move as forward or as fast as it should.
Of course every now and then, a new kid steps on the stage, gets their chance and makes the best of it but that is an exception and quite frankly, probably happens one out of every ten on a very good day and one out of fifteen on an average day. This shouldn’t be the case. Overusing familiar faces in the fashion media shouldn’t be the norm especially in an industry like fashion that is blessed with a plethora of creatives.
To be fair, these influencers are not hogging the spotlight, they worked for it and a fair number of them got into the influencer industry when calling it an industry would have had a whole room of people cackling at the absurdity of it all. They deserve the limelight and they have earned it.
The fashion media only recognises this and that in itself is actually the right thing. The problem is times are forever changing and the industry is growing and it doesn’t feel right to me that I find myself coming across a best dressed/most fashionable or stylish looks article from Nigeria and I’m usually able to guess at least sixty five percent of the people on the list. With the fashion media projecting a particular group of people and not giving another their shot to be more, it stunts the growth of the industry and prevents it, in my opinion, from evolving beyond a certain stage.
This interestingly mirrors the Nigerian political scene where a certain older and overly experienced group of politicians continuously stays in power and at the hem of affairs and don’t let the younger and newer folks try their hand at things, I believe we can all agree that this hasn’t been helpful in the Nigerian political scene. If we can all agree with that, it shouldn’t be a reach to agree that a monopoly of the spotlight isn’t going to help take the Nigerian fashion industry where it needs to be.
The solution? It’s kinda simple, the fashion media should give the underrated creatives the chance and opportunity to shine. The fashion media and industry at large simply needs to widen it’s scope to include the up and comers.