Nigeria’s textile manufacturing industries have never been so much in need of a revival as now when the nation’s tailoring sphere is seeing a crop of professional designers, and made-in-Nigeria wears have begun to blossom with acclaimed recognition within and beyond the country. But the question that continues to beg is, how Nigerian are made-in-Nigeria wears?
Before the government lifted the ban on importation of textile in 1997, citing a signing of the World Trade Organization Agreement as her reason, Nigeria was renowned in the manufacturing of textile internationally and rivalled only by Egypt and South Africa in the continent. Kaduna was known as the textile city and had over a hundred manufacturing units not to mention textile companies in Lagos, Kano, Funtua, Port Harcourt, Asaba, Aba, and Benin.
Sadly, the fabric of Nigeria’s textile industry- which could boast in the 1980s of a robust workforce of over half a million- this workforce, now lies threadbare, a complex case of failing to stitch in time. Left with an almost non-existent list of indigenous manufacturers, the country has to battle the influx of smuggled and substandard fabric via porous borders, the problem of electricity, and the need for new equipment to boost production.
Albeit, an increase in demand for Ankara prints by the burgeoning made-in-Nigeria movement seems to be attracting investors. Noting Nigeria as its biggest retail market, Dutch wax print company Vlisco has made both past and prospective commitments to the country. In 2015, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nigerian government to develop the textile industry and thus, have a favourable access to the marketplace. Vlisco is currently training tailors and according to its CEO, David Suddens, it plans to set up a printing factory in Nigeria by the end of 2018.
One thing is certain, beyond sewing machines, Nigeria would need textile factories to benefit fully from its fashion industry.