“We lack proper fashion shows to help influence our lifestyle and trends. Most of the shows we have showcase less affordable and daily wears.” – Joan Ngomba
It’s no news that the Cameroonian fashion industry is struggling. Much could be learned by attending such a mega fashion event like the Lagos Fashion Week that recently held in Nigeria.
We spotted media personality Joan Ngomba in bright colors at the Lagos Fashion Week 2018.
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When I spotted her yellow suit at the @lagosfashionweekofficial , I knew she's an important person in the fashion business. @styledbyfg , it was an honour meeting you & listening to you speak on the relevance of #fashionandbeauty to social dev't. #cameroonmeetsnaija #lagosfashionweek2018 #LFW2018 #cameroonianblogger #dcodedtv #fashion #popofcolor #popculture
Lagos Fashion Week welcomed fashion designers, brands and personalities across the globe. There was a spectacular display of mind-blowing designs on the runway by Africa’s leading fashion designers such as Mai Atafor, Ugo Monye and Yomi Casual.
So noticeable on the red carpet was DcodedTv founder Joan Ngomba posing, interviewing and networking. Guess what? One of her pictures even featured amongst the best street style by Vogue.
From a pool of analysis, Nigerian fashion brands are making a big name out there in the west. This comes as a result of efforts made by well-organized fashion shows and other platforms. We discovered that our fashion industry has much to learn from Nigeria.
In an informal interview with Joan after her successful Lagos trip, we are eager to know how Cameroon can learn and borrow from Nigeria’s fashion industry.
What Can the Cameroonian Fashion Industry Learn From Nigerian Fashion?
1. Cameroonians are not trendy
They are contented with their wardrobes and careless about what the fashion world is saying or selling. Wearing Chinese isn’t fashion and that’s what most of us do.
2. We are not daring
Nigerians are ready to go all out to make something out of nothing. They know how to blend, mix or combine.
3. Cameroonians do not show love to their local designers
They consider local products fake or not good enough. This attitude helps kill creativity. We don’t encourage our designers to create unique looks for the Cameroonian fashion consumer or market.
4. Our local designers want to do all and end up doing nothing
Most of them haven’t been able to define their brands. They fail to work with faces who can represent their brands better and know where to sell their products. This makes it difficult for consumers to buy you or know what you stand for. Hence they go to intl fashion brands, whom they believe are stable and capable of making them feel good.
Just how can we change this negative mentality about Cameroonian fashion in order for Cameroonian fashion to level up with Nigeria and the rest of the world? Cameroonian fashion enthusiasts, fashion event organizers and fashion designers would have to be at the forefront of this revolution.
The recent agbada challenge in Nigeria is a lesson of how the rest of Africa, not just Cameroon, can learn from Nigeria’s desire to proudly display its culture, especially by promoting their local fashion designers.
The success of a recent Nigerian movie Merry Men is not what caught the eye of the world. Rather, it was the proud and colorful display of the traditional agbada outfit that generated the furor.
Despite the many shortcomings of the Cameroonian fashion industry, one fashion designer could be spotted from the crowd. Her name is ShaSha of ShaSha Designs. She turned on the spotlight by launching her own “Agbada Challenge.”
This talented designer set a new pace with very daring designs of the famous “Agbada,” bringing the challenge to a whole new level. With designs which could be described as futuristic, her designs are a blend of old fashion taste and modern trends.
After launching this challenge, it was logical for other Cameroonian fashion designers to rally behind ShaSha to get Cameroonian designs to the end of the globe. Unfortunately, other Cameroonian fashion designers just sat by and watched. Like Joan Ngomba said, Cameroonians don’t show love to their local designers.
Commonly worn by men from West and North Africa, the agbada is one of the most revered traditional African outfits. The long sleeved flowing robe is worn proudly on occasions to show off masculinity and status. The attire in recent times has been made popular by Nigerians, especially at wedding ceremonies.
The fashion world has always been known for its fast-paced nature. But in the digital world, this speed has increased tenfold, which means fashion brands need to be more agile more than ever. As luck would have it, social media and its influencers have opened the door to a brand new kind of marketing. One that is challenging, constantly evolving, but most importantly, creative.
The Agbada challenge clearly demonstrates the power of celebrities and influencers in promoting Africa’s culture and local talent, something Cameroon woefully lacks.