Day One Fashions Finest Africa, Nigeria

Fashion Masterclass – The Production Flow.

After arriving late last night into Lagos and being taken for a typical Nigerian meal of jollof rice and spicy chicken I managed to get to bed just after midnight absolutely exhausted!
Day one was spent with Fashions Finest Africa on their second day of the Fashion Masterclasses for Nigerian students and designers. The overall topic for the series of masterclasses has been – ‘How to transform from boutique to mass production’ and aimed to educate designers on the complete production process and how successful factories operate in other cultures.

Today’s subject was the Production Flow, facilitated by myself and Mabel Doe, a technical consultant and industry expert who has worked all over the world with suppliers as a garment technologist as well as in the buying office.

The session began with my introduction and how we run a compliant factory in London producing up to 10,000 units a week, as well a producing samples and short production runs for designers. I explained how we have technical experts at every stage from the initial consultation to the team of pattern cutters, quality control, machinists, pressing and finishing.

The challenge here is about changing a very deep-rooted mindset that the designer should do absolutely everything, so teaching them how we operate, and the importance of quality control was a real eye opener for the designers! It seems they do not understand that this is a business, and time equals money. Designers will often design extremely elaborate creations, then when they start the sampling process do not understand the time it takes for each operation, and do not think twice about making constant amendments not realising that with each alteration a whole new pattern needs to be created.

Mabel Doe went on the talk the designers through the purchase order and what happens when a client confirms an order with a factory, how to calculate fabric consumption and the important role of a merchandiser. The designers did not have an understanding of this role or that it even existed! Again it comes down to education and teaching students about all of the possible roles in the industry, not everyone can be a designer but someone may be excellent at maths so working as a merchandiser in a factory would be ideal for this person.

Other topics included the vital operation of quality control whilst in work and at the final stage, line balancing in a factory to ensure maximum efficiency, how the metal detector is used and why the needle and pin policy is essential.

One of the participants was Sola, Director and Founder of OSC College of Fashion in Nigeria (far right in image), a training school teaching students how to stitch and pattern cut whilst at the same time producing samples and short production runs for designers. Sola is incredibly visionary and completely understands the importrance of skills training and educating designers that time is money!

Overall a fantastic day with a wonderfully engaging group who were eager to learn and start the process of changing Nigerian’s fashion industry!

Tomorrow is the first day of the Fashions Finest Epic conference where I am headliner speaker discussing.. Increasing Nigeria’s participation in the Global Garment Production Industry”

Jenni Sutton