The whole fashion world looks to Nigeria as the model struts the runway wearing a flowing newspaper print gown in this African megacity. There have been steady efforts to turn Lagos, a city with a fearsome reputation, into a fashion destination. They reached new heights at the MTN Lagos Fashion & Design Week that ran in the end of October 2012, having drawn the European high-fashion brands to Nigeria for the first time.
Ituen Basi's newspaper inspired Spring/Summer 2013 collection was among 39 collections spotlighted at the city's latest major fashion week. The Nigerian label's collection evoked fun and glamour through its use of print and color — characteristics which have come to define the vibrant local fashion scene. With local brands seeking wider platforms and international retailers hungry for novelty, designers and buyers see opportunities for collaboration.
"There's something about the fresh, the unknown, the possibility of seeing a new brand springing forth into the limelight. ... These are becoming interesting to people outside Nigeria," said Omoyemi Akerele, the fashion week's founder and creative director.
"Over the past few seasons, there's been a strong trend for print," said Bruno Barba, the brand public relations manager at Selfridges. "If you look at the collection of Burberry inspired by Africa last year... They've made that inspiration quite mainstream now. So, for us, it was interesting to take that trend and take it from its roots in Africa."
"For me, Nigeria represents a fun individualism," said Justin O'Shea, the buying director of the online retailer MyTheresa.com. Previously, several Nigerian designers have helped put the West African nation on the global fashion map. London-based Duro Olowu is considered one of Michelle Obama's favorite designers. Maki Oh has dressed American singer Solange Knowles and Hollywood actress Leelee Sobieski from her Lagos workshop. While looking to Nigeria could bring much-needed novelty to clothes targeted to global audiences, it could also endear a Nigerian clientele.
Though the majority of the nation lives on less than $2 a day, the nation's wealthy elite ha