Why the Nigerian fashion industry is the way it is? – Sola Babatunde

To our Nigerian audience especially, Sola Babatunde CEO, OSC College of Fashion has, just unveiled a whole new topic of discussion; owing to an experience at the recently concluded seminar/training by USAID TRADEHUB and Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), where a selected few in garment and apparel industry from all over Nigeria with operational factories. […]

To our Nigerian audience especially, Sola Babatunde CEO, OSC College of Fashion has, just unveiled a whole new topic of discussion; owing to an experience at the recently concluded seminar/training by USAID TRADEHUB and Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), where a selected few in garment and apparel industry from all over Nigeria with operational factories.

Mr. Musa giving his lecture and training on production and export .

“The Nigerian fashion industry is the way it is because, we tend to focus only on one part of the value chain; FASHION, (there is a long value chain of the industry, just go and google it.

Fashion we don’t even do properly, I have attended many workshops, trainings , seminars and the world is wondering why Nigeria has not taken its place in the Global market of exporting legally to the US , or even be able to cater to our over 180million Nigerian population?

So many skills needed to support the industry is lacking , I get many calls and emails from those looking to hire machinist, line supervisor, managers , quality control ,presser, design engineer etc. as we train for these skills at OSC. All these skills are needed to ensure the garment factory runs smoothly and that the apparels produced are up to standard. We all seem to focus on fashion design and sewing end of things only.

On the other hand I get calls and emails of those looking for jobs , after their own business of tailoring isn’t working anymore , most of them don’t have the type of skills the factory’s who pay well want. Don’t get me wrong they have skills, but not up to what is in line with the factory needs. Ege, a tailor with over 3 years of sewing but with only manual machines, who cuts with only scissors, doesn’t use patterns or know what CF, balance marks, grain lines, tech pack etc. are, how would they be able to work for a company whose foreign buyer client would just send a technical pack to them for production of 2000 tops within 2 weeks?

For instance a company who wants to produce in Nigeria for export, had contacted us to help them hire a pattern maker. They have tailors from the Philippines. As the export market is very standardized.

They were going to pay as much as 250,000 Naira for the person that meets the normal requirements, now here is the problem OUR own OSC students that meet the requirements do not want to work for others , the non OSC students didn’t meet the requirements. Even the ones we thought from all their talks and posts on social media, didn’t meet the requirements. I know the next thing would be to ask, what are the requirements? Please type in job description of a pattern maker on Google and you will see all the details. Don’t say this is not for Nigeria, which is the mistake we are all making, if we want to play in this field that is the yard stick we must all meet up to.

Teaching people to go open their own business is good but what happens to them when they open the business who will work for them?

The schools that teach properly are expensive due to the very high cost of running business in Nigeria and they are privately owned, the government should have trade and technical schools with each of the departments mentioned above functioning.

So the solution is to start training people for each of these roles, then the requirement for the export market can be met”, she concluded.

We quite agree with Sola on this, but we think it is a similar situation in most parts of Africa and we take this as a call to action for the entire continent.

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