Oba Couture is one of a number of Nigerian luxury fashion brands that have sprung up in the last decade. Fueled by the perception of a growing taste for stylish Afrocentric accessories, these new generation ventures are setting up shop in the cities of Nigeria, and across urban Africa.
The leather shoes and bags produced by Oba Couture do have a finishing about them that puts them a class above the regular wears you’d find at a random store in Lagos, Abuja or Port Harcourt. This brand has built itself into a main player in the indigenous luxury business. It is aiming to become more than just a Louis Vuitton with an African touch; the target is to be the standard, to loom large on the.home front and on the international stage. And they’re doing it with the help of skilled Nigerian craftspeople.
At the moment, they haven’t yet broken the global impression that French and Italian fancy wares define global luxury. But they are carving out their niche, slowly but surely, and drawing in a tribe of customers with exquisite tastes and a willingness to pay a premium for the artful accessories displayed on Oba Couture’s shelves.
Eight years ago, this story was only just beginning to unfold. Olubukola Asafa, who started up Oba Couture, had rounded up her MBA program. She was already set on following her family’s entrepreneurial path by founding her own business. Her first thought was to sell handbags and shoes- a market which was already teeming with numerous vendors. She soon got dissatisfied with the idea of selling imported products and began hunting for a local alternative.
Today, Oba Couture is the local alternative its founder had been seeking. Olubukola has managed to assemble what she considers a trustworthy team of craftspeople and managers to help create fashion accessories here in Nigeria, which could rival the famed brands from Europe. And as one who speaks proudly of her devotion to the Made In Nigeria concept, she’s giving her products more than a tinge of the African look and feel.
You find this to be the case when you’re on the Oba Couture website. There are adire and ankara clutches, cheetah and croc bags, colourfully beaded leather sandals, gown belts and several other women’s fashion items. These can be ordered on the brand’s online store or purchased from its physical shop in the Lekki axis of Lagos.
People who buy Oba Couture’s handbags are potentially doing more people a favour than they might think. That’s what we can surmise from this brand’s policy of donating a fraction of its sales to charity. When a person purchases a handbag from Oba Couture, ₦1,000 from their payment is channelled to a children’s charity, the Heritage Children Foundation, which feeds school pupils in underserved communities.
We can’t be absolutely certain of what the future holds for Nigeria’s burgeoning market for indigenous luxury fashion. It rests largely on how the income groups swell or contract over the coming years. Oba Couture will be banking on an improvement in the fortunes of the country’s middle and upper middle class, and the rise in demand that should accompany such a brightening of their prospects.
For now, it can afford to dig its heels into the potentially fruitful ground, and lay the groundwork for further expansion in this sector.
Featured Image Source: Lionesses of Africa
*Here are other brands we love.