• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
businessday logo


Fashion businesses and the weakening Naira

Fashion businesses and the weakening Naira

From COVID-19 to the weak naira, increased customs duties to no cash, the Nigerian fashion industry has joined the list of industries being challenged by the current economic situation. The average fashion business owner in Nigeria is not just a designer, they have had to learn to wear many hats. They are producers, they take charge of their distribution, quality control, and delivery service and generate their electricity. Business owners have learned to become adaptable at the same speed as the fluctuating naira. It has been a rollercoaster journey over the past few years. Can fashion businesses survive these turbulent times?

The clear consensus across several industry round tables I have been privileged to be part of, the most advantageous goal for the Nigerian fashion industry is to have a fully local production line. This means everything required to make a garment needs to be produced locally. From the production of threads, fabrics, dyes, construction of garments, and more.

Read also: Fashion Roulette show debuts in Nigeria

This is a long-term goal and can be achieved through education and the availability of key infrastructural components such as constant electricity supply and clean water. Agricultural issues also need to be addressed so the country can grow good quality crops particularly cotton that we will use to produce our fashion. This is an idealist goal and over time with the right support it can be achieved but until then what can we do to uplift an industry that is on life support?

It is important to keep our fashion industry going as not only does it favour the economy, but it is a positive image for the country. Brands are showing the richness of Nigerian culture to the world and the world is loving it. Many highly regarded personalities proudly wear Nigerian brands such as Michelle Obama, Kelly Rolland, and Gabrielle Union.

Most fashion businesses in Nigeria are small or medium-sized

The most impactful problem Nigerian fashion brands are facing today is the very fast decline of the Naira- it’s hard to keep up! We have seen basic items shoot up in price within hours! As most components required for successful garment production are imported, items are constantly increasing in the market, making it very difficult for brands to set their prices and restock. The increasing price of diesel is also a problem as it increases the cost of production. As I wear the shoes, I know where they hurt. Here are a few points I feel could increase the survival rate of fashion businesses in Nigeria:

Most fashion businesses in Nigeria are small or medium-sized. One of the pros of SMEs is that decisions can be made quickly, unlike large corporations where policies must go through various departments before they get implemented, which takes time. Adapting with speed in this economy is crucial. If the colour pink starts to trend, include it in your product offering in your unique way and make that decision quickly. The key is to sell! Sell! Sell!

Re-strategise your budget by making cuts where necessary. These cuts may just be temporary until things stabilise so don’t let your emotions run too high. You might also realise that these cuts might push you in a direction you never considered which your business may benefit from. Always keep an open mind.

The communication of your brand message must be sensitive during these times. Be mindful of the emotions of your customers. This will keep your brand more likeable and always at the top of your mind.

Read also: Swirl braids: From traditional to mainstream fashion

Expanding your market is important to increase your sales. This is the perfect time to take advantage of all social media platforms as they open you up to the world. Invest in good content and go hard! Exporting your product is a way of earning foreign exchange which is more stable – we all need those dollars.

Consistency and perseverance are key.


Banke Kuku is the Creative director and founder of Banke Kuku, a fashion business.