Meet Omoyemi Akerele, the global gatekeeper of fashion and style in Nigeria

The gilded key to the world’s most dynamic emerging economies is a combination of on-the-ground intelligence and loyal contacts. Nigeria’s own Omoyemi Akerele is an in-demand emissaries in global fashion and she recently sat down with Business of Fashion to share a few home truths about the Nigerian Marketplace. Read more below and check out the other gatekeepers here
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“The strongest misconception about Nigeria is that it’s a homogenous market where in fact it’s a country with 37 different states, all with varying cultures, references, dialects and possibly style preferences. So what works for the Lagos consumer market might not necessarily work for the Abuja-based consumer and so on.”

Omoyemi Akerele is the main engine behind Nigeria’s nascent but rapidly developing fashion industry. Three years ago, she founded Lagos Fashion & Design Week through her agency, Style House Files. Since then, Akerele has either struck deals or brokered introductions for her designers to several international platforms like the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience, the LVMH Young Designer Prize, the BFC, AltaRoma and Pitti Immagine — not to mention countless global retailers. She also doubles as a fountain of sage advice for international brands hoping to cash in on this lucrative West African frontier market hub.

“In an environment with issues like fluctuating import regulations and double taxation, a task that seems as mundane as leasing property can be an arduous one if not properly handled. I can’t over-emphasize the importance of working with the right local partner or consultant to make operating in Nigeria less expensive. A willing investor has to really understand how to navigate the business terrain here — from the need to generate your own power to negotiating your way through the supply chain at Nigeria’s ports.”

When it comes to how quickly the Nigerian retail infrastructure will evolve before that critical mass of global fashion brands descends on the market, Akerele’s enthusiasm is clear but measured. “Although the Nigerian market’s allure is still relatively strong and there are talks of international fashion and beauty brands poised to launch within the next six months, there is no doubt that the current political situation is not very encouraging. The question on everyone’s lips is how can the nation continue to thrive in the absence of a stronger stance on eradicating terrorism?”

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