By Kennedy Eberechi.
Within a decade, Nigeria’s fashion industry has grown in size and sophistication, attracting global attention. Going by GDP data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the “textile, apparel, and footwear” sector has averaged growth of 17% between 2010 and 2019.
Undoubtedly, this rise has been fuelled by an increase in demand but also partly by unprecedented initiatives that continue to edge Nigeria into the global fashion consciousness. One of these brands is Seeyaa’s Clothings, which specializes in beautiful ready-to-wear outfits for stylish women and kids.
In a bid to create a more fortified fashion industry that will attract investors, huge fashion brands and bring in more revenue to Nigeria as a whole, the Founder and Creative Director; Siya George Batubo has been upbeat about how transforming the fashion industry through government’s strategic investment will actually help it compete more at a global scale
This was evident in a recent exclusive chat on the sidelines of her birthday wherein the 30-year-old Africa’s fastest rising creative designer elucidated on how investing in the fashion and clothing industry will not only boost the country’s GDP but also create an avenue for tourism, job creation and help balance the country’s almost sinking economy.
“Every year, we complain about poor welfare, infrastructure and even though there is an official budget for the developments of those sectors our government needs to start paying attention to our fashion industry by communicating their plans and agenda because there is a huge gap to fill in terms of influencing the industry with their legitimate ascendancy”.
Referencing the fact that an average human needs food, shelter and clothing to survive, Siya revealed that clothing (fashion) will always be in demand and hence the need for a profitable and well-fortified fashion industry to satisfy the needs of different individuals and consumers in the country and to widen our international base to the benefit of the country.
Underlining how Nigeria can achieve this, she pointed out that the government can start by developing a well-established fashion district with well-equipped machines and spaced-buildings that will help in the production of different types of fabrics and clothes.
“It could be bespoke/high production tailoring of suits and traditional attires or even jeans, tee shirts and casual attires with well-defined regions in the district. People may argue that we already have a fashion district in Aba (Abia State) with a variety of tailors and aspiring designers but to be honest, we are not yet scratching the surface of how a well-defined and established fashion district should be, and we have the potential but keep wasting it”, she observed.
As a way forward, the young entrepreneur recommends that the Nigerian government should help the already forthcoming tailors and fashion designers, “not only through funding, but through a necessary provision of good roads, electricity and guaranteed security.
“Basically, the government should give loans to already established fashion designers/tailors with a single digit interest in returns. Give them Tax Exemption until they hit a particular profit margin, and Import or Produce well-advanced machines and create an avenue for forums to teach them how to use those machines”.
Furthermore, she advocates that the government should pay attention to already blooming Fashion Designers and tailors by creating a standard school solely for the purpose of teaching Fashion.
According to her, a school where people can learn how to improve their talent/art at a subsidized rate in order to enhance the quality of the production of the clothes made locally and also learn how to sell and reach their target audience better. “Nigeria does not yet have a proper fashion school or academy with a certification of international repute and this needs to be fixed”, she emphasized.
Conclusively, Siya stated that the government could also help individuals who import the materials used in the production of clothes by paying subsidies to smoothen their business relations.
“For example, for the total amount it will take in the importing of an item whether it is the needled, fabric, thread a buttonhole making machine for suits, the government should pay a certain percentage to ease the cost or reduce the tariffs on fashion-related products that are imported”, Siya stated.
Broadly, Siya George Batubo, who has stayed five years in the business, is assiduously working towards making her Fashion brand a global one within the next few years. “In the next five years we are going to be a global brand. The plans we have is that within the next five years, every retail store that sells clothes; the way one sees the likes of Zara, H&M in every retail store all over the world, that’s how Seeyaas Clothings (SYC) will be seen”, she assured.