Aswani Market: A model on how to make African Fashion more accessible

Aswani Market: A model on how to make African Fashion more accessible

I love my African fashion and lord knows I do. From the lace trimmings to aso-ebi shopping, and don’t get me started on matching our clothes from head to bottom, I love our head wraps too. If there is one thing that makes everyone unique in any African country you visit, it’s our clothes. Granted, we are living in a period where Western influences on clothes are the norm, with people, both rich and poor wearing what they think society expects them to wear, but what makes us different as Africans, beyond our culture, even our language and food is our sense of style.

But nothing, really, nothing pains me more than the price gouging that is oh so common with anything described as our fashion, especially things sold online. Enter Aswani Market, the Tuesday African fashion market that is a must for anyone passionate about fashion in Africa.

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How many of us out there want to purchase African materials the same way you purchase other things you like? Or choose from an assortment of African materials? Is it lace? Or Dashikis? Or maybe just a simple Ankara material to sew that gorgeous style, you know, the one you saw at Bloomingdales that would be so stunning with a matching head wrap? Aswani Market makes African fashion amazingly accessible to everyone, whether young or old, rich or poor.

African fashion is really difficult and daunting for Africans and non-Africans alike and there is so much pressure to ensure that it becomes part of the global fashion industry with more push for professional quality designers creating stunning pieces that could be worn by Beyonce and any girl next door. However, until the advent of social media, African fashion has been in such a difficult and convoluted state that it truly remains totally inaccessible to for most people. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t have $100 to spend for a skirt or a designer that I have never heard of, when I can do it myself for way less or shop at ASOS (This is not to disrespect the really hard working designers, but price gouging is rampant with African fashion and it is unacceptable that some sites continue to overcharge for their items).

This past May, I visited Nigeria and of course, Aswani was on top of my agenda. As always and even in the midst of the fuel scarcity that was ongoing at the time, my mom and I went to the place that makes us smile always, Aswani market. If you have never been, it is huge market for all things African materials related, held every Tuesday and it is along Oshodi-Apapa expressway. I honest to God love this market and my trips to Lagos is never complete until I visit this marketplace. Everyone, both rich and poor are granted access to the most luxurious materials for the right price. Do you want curb-side service where materials can be brought to you for your perusal until you decide what you want? Or are you seeking to walk down every stall until you find the right one for your materials needs? Aswani market has you covered.

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What Aswani market focuses on is making African fashion accessible. For me, it was so incredible to observe people walking from one stall to another purchasing materials for their needs. You get the opportunity to purchase materials every Tuesday, avoid price gouging, while purchasing, unique, one of a kind materials that otherwise you would not know about sans the absence of online sales of these pieces. Even the sellers themselves have figured out a way to create profitable businesses in places some might consider off the beaten path. African Fashion thrives big time here and Aswani market will remain in my opinion, a viable business model that highlights how to make African Fashion more accessible.

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