Nigeria's controversial fashion industryby Rosie Williams
at Kingston University 27th January 2012 14:20:22
You can’t flick on the television now-a-days without being bombarded with a plethora of adverts and programmes dedicated to showing the great hard-ships of the rich, beautiful people in the western fashion industry, but finally there’s something a bit different for the fashion-conscience among us to sink our teeth in to: Fashion Week Internationale.
In each episode, this against-the-grain series from VICE jets off cities and countries across the globe - countries that we are used to seeing on television when they’re appearing on the six o’clock news with stories of political upheaval or civil unrest - and documents the fashion weeks that flourish despite their political and economic woes.
Yesterday, the series announced the season finale which features the controversial Fashion Week in Lagos, Nigeria. In this episode, presenter Charlet Duboc gets the local Lagos treatment with lessons in butt shaking, a tour of the fashion scene from a heavily ADD-afflicted hairdresser named Blessed, and a merry yacht ride with the girls from Nigeria’s very own “Top Model.”
However, the real story lies behind the fashion, this eye-opening program gives viewers a real insight in to what it’s like to be gay in a notoriously homophobic society – where same sex marriage is criminalised yet the fashionistas still claim that to get to the top in Nigerian society you have to be gay.
In a heavily God-fearing country, Nigeria is a renowned for being openly homophobic but within the walls of the fashion houses these prejudices are quickly stripped away.
This program follows some of the men who chose take advantage of Nigeria’s fashion week as an opportunity to freely demonstrate their feminine side, through being “quirky” by walking like a girl or wearing make-up, actions that could provoke an attack if carried on Nigeria’s busy streets.
Fashion Internationale’s exploration of Nigeria’s fashion industry leads them to Legendary Gold Limited, a fashion house, with the slogan ‘Legendary services as valuable as Gold’, where the other side – the fashionable side – of Nigeria’s men is laid bare.
Legendary Gold, whose male founder and CEO of goes by the name Lexy Mojo-Eyes, is a place where men are free to flaunt their more ‘feminine’ side and explore the idea of male-fashion and their vanity, which is otherwise often deemed to be gay in Nigeria and therefore illegal.
The program also explores the theme of the designs at the Nigerian Fashion week, which is entitled ‘Go Green’ because of the bad pollution problem in Nigeria due to its high population.
Many of the designs use reusable materials and the fashion designers are committed to celebrating traditional African beauty, so there’s minimal western influence, no plastic surgery and not blonde weaves in sight at this fashion week with a difference.
So if you’re bored of being forced to witness hysterical models cry because they can’t squeeze in to their new size zero little black dress, or that fashion designer screaming at their supplier because they haven’t managed to import that rare polar-bear skin for the hot-pants that they just absolutely need then this is for you.