I think the whole Made in Aba fashion show in the US was not well thought out. No matter the amount of money you put in to promote Made in Aba clothes in the US, the demand for them is unlikely to increase significantly.
First, who are we marketing to? Nigerians, Africans or Americans? Which season’s wears are we promoting: summer, fall (autumn), winter or spring? What type of attire are being promoted-Western or native attire? From what I have seen,they are not promoting Western attire. Of course, we can’t compete there so it makes sense to promote our native attire.
But our attire are generally worn during summer. Nobody living in a temperate region is likely to order a large number of our native attire only to wait for summer to wear them. What you get, however, is that most people will ‘excavate’ their old native dresses during summer to wear. And they are mainly worn on Sundays to church or African events.
What I think Abia State government should do is to aggressively market Made in Aba clothes in African countries. That is a big market we need to aggressively explore. And in this market we can sell Made in Aba Western and traditional attire, shoes, bags, etc. Each time I visit any African country and see the shirts, suits, jackets and trousers they wear I see a huge market for Aba. Our shoes, bags, caps and hats will also sell here. No doubt, some consignments do move to these places from Aba, but there has yet to be a deliberate and conscious effort to formalize the business. Unfortunately, China appears to have taken over this market. But we can still have a good share of it.
I believe that a Made in Aba fashion show in East and Central Africa is more likely to benefit the Aba fashion industry than any of such in the US or Europe. What the Abia ‘Made in Aba ‘cabal’ should do is to permeate African countries to open up more business opportunities for the players in the Aba fashion industry. Striking a deal with the Ministries of Education in some African countries to supply affordable school uniforms will no doubt benefit Aba more than any jamboree in US or Europe.
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