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Segmentation of the Nigerian Fashion Industry Practitioners

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I t is true that stakeholders in the fashion industry have expressed need to develop the industry at different fora and at every opportunity. Attention is often directed at funding each time challenges of the are mentioned. Commendably, this call have been given attention in recent times by the government through the Bank of Industry and other financing avenues. Obviously however, the effort seems to have a slow impact on the industry.

This article gives a brief segmentation of the industry to give a clear characterization in a bid to direct attention to the group that actually need intervention and through which unlock the potential of the industry.

Defining categories of operators in the industry is not an easy task given its diversity.  There are two main trade here; the creators/producers and the merchants. Focus here is the FASHION DESIGNERS who are the creators/producers and the categories are defined base on Knowledge/educational background and achieved strata.


The Fashion Industry is made up of four broad categories of operators. They are the Global Labels, Local Giants, Local Established and Upcoming.

Global Labels: These groups are recognized in the global platform having participated in high profile global fashion shows and their designs worn by top global personalities. Majority of the players in this category have Masters Degree in other fields either before venturing into the business on the job. Their styles have distinguishing features. However, this category only constitute 2% of the industry operators.

Local Giants: They are well known within Nigeria and Africa countries. Their designs are recognized and service Nigerian celebrities and themselves celebrities. They are educated to at least Bachelor level with a few of them having Masters degree. They are the most expensive with a well maintained standard. Their fashion outfit employs at least 10 staff on full time and earn a successful living from the business. This category occupy 5% of the Nigerian Fashion Industry.

Local Established: This category have an established fashion firm engaged in design creation and employing at least 5 to 10 full time staff . They create good and neat designs but may not be celebrities. They are less expensive than the Local Giants but maintain a good standard. This category are fairly educated up to at least a National Diploma with many having a Bachelor.  (This group exclude shirts and trousers mass producing factory owners).

The last of the categories is the Upcoming. There may not be a clear cut definition of this group of operators. Though a handful of them are educated, their level of operation gives them off to this group. The main characteristic of this group is that they operate as artisan or on micro level. They range from those who simply have their machines in their sitting room and making clothes for their family to those who operate between one and four machines shop. 75 per cent of this group are female while male occupy the remaining 25 per cent.  The following further describe them

Unregistered: While the few educated ones go further to formalize their ventures, a large number of them are not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

They are low priced: Their pricing is affected by the environment they reside or operate from. Since majority of them do this for survival and not as a well scaled business, they are not able to standardize their product and pricing mechanism.

They lack structure: A good number of them lack basic business structure. Since they operate a one man business, there is no clear cut process even as simple as work schedule. Work record are totally non available. They simply are less in capacity

They operate in cluster: This group are often found in cluster especially around low cost shops or markets

In relating with the above, emphasizing the capacity needs of this category is therefore paramount to connect with the entire industry needs since they make the bulk of the operators. Among others, the following needs hamper the desired growth and expansion of the fashion industry.

Skills enhancement: In truth, product quality commands good pricing. Acquiring initial sewing skills is surely not enough to build up the fashion industry to compete with the rest of the world. Constant knowledge upgrading on the job is utmost paramount if the industry is to maintain a standard. Knowledge in other supporting fields such as IT, business management, Marketing is needed to further broaden the knowledge base of the industry

Record keeping: The Nigerian Fashion Industry is one of the industries in Nigeria without sufficient data. This makes research, accurate description and planning in the industry difficult. Industry data begins with simple daily work record of volume of work done, cash inflow and outflow, and other vital business information. Operators need to be taught and encouraged to keep accurate record of their operations

Marketing: This is an indispensable arm of the fashion business. Fashion must be seen before it can be bought. Creative works must be presented to consumers through the appropriate medium. The upcoming fashion designers need to be continually trained on the available marketing channels to showcase their works.

Many countries are signatories to international treaties concerning intellectual property, and thus companies registered in these countries are subject to national laws bound by these treaties. In order to protect trade secrets, companies may require employees to sign non-compete clauses which will impose limitations on an employee’s interactions with stakeholders, and competitors.

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