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Forging Fashion Ties with Nigeria


Recently, FashionCapital’s Development Director, Jenni Sutton, embarked on a trip to Lagos, Nigeria as the invited headline speaker for Fashions Finest Africa. During which she spoke at length about the work currently being done by FashionCapital in their fully-compliant factory and how the Nigerian fashion industry could learn from FashionCapital’s model.

For FashionCapital, essential skills training is done on-site at their factory; a great opportunity for trainees, graduates and apprentices to see and work alongside a moving production line, gaining a deep understanding of the various different processes required to manufacture a garment.

Jenni paid special attention to how FashionCapital’s model can be replicated around the world; and also how such factories can provide accredited qualifications to those wishing to gain greater experience in garment making whilst doing so in a professional and safe environment, free from exploitation.

Jenni states that changing the very deep-rooted mind-set that the designer should do absolutely everything was a rewarding challenge. She spoke to those she met with about how FashionCapital operates, and the importance of quality control.

She comments on how “it seems the designers do not understand that this is a business, and time equals money.”

“Designers will often design extremely elaborate creations, then when they start the sampling process they do not understand the time it takes for each operation, and do not think twice about making constant amendments not realising that with each alteration a whole new pattern needs to be created.”

This training and education is something which FashionCapital already offer in their London-based factory.

Also speaking at the conference were Mabel Doe, Ohimai Atafo (CEO Mai Atafo) and Morin Obaweya (CEO Morin. O).

Mabel gave a presentation which focused on her experiences of working in factories all over the world and exactly what it is required to ensure optimum efficiency and a good quality garment. She also touched on why the mind-set and work ethic of Nigerian’s must change in order to compete.

Morin Obaweya echoed this sentiment, stating that the mind-set of Nigerian’s needed to change for the Nigerian fashion industry to be taken seriously by the rest of the world.

To contrast this, Ohimai Atafo talked candidly about what it really takes to be a successful designer. Ohimai trained as a bespoke tailor himself in the UK at Savile Row, he explained how it was down to him to learn the skills and educate himself on how to run a successful business.

On her last day, Jenni visited a developing garment manufacturer and vocational institute. She comments on how this project is incredibly similar to what FashionCapital already offer at their Factory and their Fashion Training Academy.

The developing garment manufacturer was founded by Wasiu Taiwo, owner of Wessy Creations which has been producing traditional African wear since 1979.

Wasiu recently acquired an incredible three-story building (which he is developing into the aforementioned garment manufacturing centre and vocational institute) and has purchased over fifty industrial sewing machines, pressers, a cutting table and machines for embroidery with the aim of manufacturing up to 2000 garments daily.

Jenni mentioned how although the project is in its very early stages, “it’s clear Wasiu has a vision and sees the potential of the fashion and textiles industry in Nigeria. He realises he needs skills training in order to create good quality garments, and unlike most people here, he understands he needs people trained in specialised skills such as pattern cutting, pressing and quality control.”

“There is still a lot of work to be done, and it’s crucial that there is guidance for Wasiu to ensure the factory reaches its full potential. He needs advice on the factory floor lay plan, compliance, machine maintenance, a metal free zone, a warehouse for fabric deliveries. But the wheels are in motion which is hugely promising for the industry.”

This experience was highly rewarding, both for Jenni and for those that she was able to meet. There is hope that this will be the first step in building a network between up-and-coming talent in Nigeria and FashionCapital; a network focused on the training and development of those who want to get into the industry.

By Callum Cliffe

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