Day 3 Fashions Finest Africa, Nigeria

On our third day in Lagos we were lucky enough to be taken to Abeokuta, Ogun State to visit a soon to be garment manufacturer and vocational institute. Exactly what we do at the Factory and FTA in London!

Wasiu Taiwo is the owner of Wessy Creations which is already a retail store and made to measure sampling unit producing traditional African wear since 1979. Wasiu recently acquired an incredible three-story building and has purchased over 50 industrial sewing machines, pressers, a cutting table and machine for embroidery with the aim of manufacturing up to 1000 – 2000 garments a day. I asked Wasiu if he already had a skilled workforce in place, but he explained the need to train before the factory can be at full capacity.

Although 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 need skills training in order to create good quality garments, and unlike most people here 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 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 and on the training side will the courses be accredited and where is he going to find excellent tutors, but the wheels are in motion which is hugely promising for the industry.

Following a tour of the factory, we were then taken to the sampling studio where Wasiu already has clients for bespoke pieces, this is however a limited business as it does not reach to the mass market and involves a lot of work for little return. We also visited the retail unit which stocked only very traditional African menswear, which Mabel who is a technical consultant pointed out an issue with the fit of some of the pieces. It seems there is a problem with fit in this country, no one seems to have their own standard size chart for their customer so garments are made to random sizes and when an alteration is made the rest of the garment is not considered.

From my understanding students are not being taught by technical experts so there is a real knock on effect, it has to come down to education but if it is not right first time it will never be right.
Thank you to Wasiu for his time, especially as he was supposed to be at a wedding and didn’t go so he could show us around his space! He then very generously took us out for a typical Nigerian feast which was delicious!

Tomorrow is the first day of Fashions Finest Africa Catwalk shows where approx. 10 Nigerian designers will showcase for the first time.

Jenni Sutton