Omoyemi Akerele, the woman who started Lagos Fashion Week, which is now known as Heineken’s Lagos Fashion Week, because of the partnership- started out as a lawyer in one of Nigeria’s most prestigious law firms, Olaniwun Ajayi & Co for 3 years. Omoyemi started Style House Files, a creative development agency for Nigerian and African designers. And thus, the road to the birth of Lagos Fashion Week began. She has always been a believer in the potential Lagos offers, so it seemed natural that fashion week would be hosted there, when it was finally established in 2011. It has now been 10 years.
Ten years of producing new talent, taking Nigerian and African fashion to the world, while also boosting the economy and Lagos as an up-and-coming fashion capital.
Part of the magic that made Lagos so perfect was the high youth population in the city, which made fashion week in Lagos a success because of the high turnout rates, over the four days that it is held. Lagos fashion week is open to Nigerian designers and other designers from different African countries.
The primary goal for Lagos Fashion Week has always been to introduce fashion as a viable sector that would bring economic opportunities and growth in Nigeria. Which it has. The festival has gained international attention over the past 10 years. Forming partnerships with the British Fashion Council, and praise from international magazines such as Vogue.
After a decade, some of the most recognizable Nigerian designers started out in Lagos Fashion Week. Designers like Kenneth Ize to Maki Oh to Orange Culture — are some of the biggest names. Who are now known all over the world, not just in Lagos, Nigeria.
Since the pandemic started, Lagos Fashion Week has faced so many challenges. Apart from COVID-19 restrictions that needed to be considered. The Lekki Massacre happened just before Lagos’ fashion week was about to start. Omoyemi postponed the festival, stating that it was important to show solidarity with those that had died. Especially because Lekki is in Lagos, the same city where the massacre happened. It would have been insensitive to have a fashion week just after a tragic event.
Now October is approaching and so is this year’s festival. It will run from 27th to 30th. The focus for this year is the future of fashion in the next 10 years in Nigeria. The intention is to create a fashion industry in Nigeria that is environmentally friendly, social, and economically viable.
There are 3 platforms that run throughout Lagos fashion week, such as Green Access. New designers that are coming in that you could look forward to are chosen through the Green Access initiative. Aimed at discovering raw fashion talent from Nigeria and inspiring them to consciously begin to explore sustainable ways of developing their designs and business.
Then there is the Fashion Business series. A platform dedicated to facilitating conversations with key players from the Nigerian and international fashion industry. Where people industry peers get to network and exchange ideas. Each year, the series has a theme, past themes have been ‘Beyond Fashion’ and ‘The Future of Fashion: Manufacturing’.
Fashion focus fund is a grant given to a fashion brand or designer, while also receiving mentorship. Which is important because fashion designers often lack the business skills that are needed to make their business profitable, because as a designer they focus solely on the creative side.
Based on the vibrant culture of the city and its people, more greatness can be expected in the next decade.