Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Problem With Nigerian Brands......

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I love Nigerian brands, it is also an established fact that I take umbrage at the fact that a lot of them retail at outlandish prices.

What a lot of people consider outlandish however differs across a wide spectrum, some people may consider spending N10,000 on an outfit far too much and someone else will drop N250,000 at a go like its nothing. When I try to gauge what I think may be out of the price range of the average fashion loving Nigerian I consider a lot of factors. The age range for one, Nigerian women love fashion and there's no cut-off, so we have Nigerian labels flogging their wares to women from the age of 18 to 50. The income gap between these ages are vast and what a 35yr old working woman can comfortably pay for will take a 20yr old undergraduate some time to put together.

One of the most common reasons I hear from Nigerian designers as an explanation for their prices is the Nigerian factor; i.e., lack of electricity, manpower etc. I understand that perfectly, I get why you have to factor in the cost of diesel into an item of clothing but I don't understand why something that clearly costs so little to make should sell for so much. It will make complete sense to me if these clothes were of the highest quality and you made a few of each to show their exclusivity and justify their prices, but I have seen examples of too many poorly made clothes; lumpy seams, thread hanging, terrible fitting, uneven hemlines.....just plain bad tailoring. Yet these things will have price tags of N25,000 and above attached to them.

That is roughly a 100 pounds.....one hundred pounds on a dress, or a top, that looks like an SS1 Clothing & Textiles student made it? That is criminal.

I did Clothing & Textiles back in school (only because I couldn't get into Food & Nutrition to be honest), but even though I started it reluctantly I grew to love sewing and pattern cutting and the different decorative stitches. Still do even, till now I practice my chain stitches and herringbone and blanket stitches etc. What I'm trying to say is I learned how to make clothes, I made clothes, till now I still amend and tailor my clothes to fit me myself. So I know how much fabric and carbon paper and all that cost and what exactly goes in to make one single dress.

I don't do it on a large scale so I won't presume to know how much it costs to run a business but if you dare to bill yourself as a "high street label", you better own it. Don't align your business towards girls in university then sell a dress for N25,000. I personally believe its unfair.

If you, in all honesty feel like your work is worth that much then deliver quality designs and quality tailoring, not what my 15yr old self could have run up on my toy Singer.

The most over-used words in the Nigerian fashion landscapes are "couture" and "luxe". When what you're attempting to sell is so far off the mark.

Along the way I have found several affordable, wearable Nigerian brands, unfortunately adrift in a sea of mediocrity and imagined grandiosity. I root so much for these people, because I want them to win, I want their creativity to be available to the average Nigerian girl not "pulled" for a celeb to wear on the red carpet and returned sweat stained.

Because a lot of these brands are so unaffordable that's all they're good for, to be borrowed and returned. Their PR person splashes the picture of the celebrity wearing it everywhere and you think they're doing well. The measure of a brand's popularity is not that you see it at the AVMCAs or whatever tinpot red carpet is out there, its that you see it on every day people. Wearing it to work, dinners, parties etc.

If you dare to bill yourself in the same category as a Lanvin or Saint Laurent, then please bring it. Give us quality stitching, give us zips that stay up, sequins that don't fall off.

For the love of God....Own. Your. Shit.

Below are are my favorite, most affordable brands that retail for N10,000 and below. That is, they don't just have the one odd item that's less than N10,000, but a significant part of their stock or in some cases all their stuff are below N10,000. They are well made and most importantly wearable, in that items from them have become part of my daily wardrobe and not just worn once.

Rukky Simone

I'll start with Rukky Simone because they're one of the newest entrants into an already over saturated market and in my opinion, one of the brightest stars in the Nigerian fashion firmanent right now.

I first noticed Rukky Simone when stylist; Onyinye Fafi-Obi posted a picture of herself in one of their dresses on Instagram and dropped the bombshell that the maxi dress she was wearing was less than N10,000. Maxi dresses have my heart so I was on my laptop and clicking away before you could say RS to find out where I could find this magic cheap dress. I was still skeptical because from painful experience Nigerian brands are not cheap and when they do decide to sell that cheap my advice is to be wary. I went down to Grey Velvet where it is stocked meaning to buy just one dress, I left there with 5 outfits. All cost me about N35,000. All beautifully made, not a seam or thread out of place. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, every single item of clothing in there cost from N3,000 to about N9,000.

Mind. Blown.

In addition they also have a fabulous way for you to earn money by becoming  a Rukky Simone personal stylist through which you can earn commissions while doing something fun.

Find out more by going to rukkysimone.com. Buy RS at Grey Velvet stores in Lekki and Ikeja.

Lady Biba

This here is another label which makes seriously creative pieces for a ridiculously affordable amount of money

They are fantastic for work clothes and I got the dress to the far left above for about N8,000 I think.

I don't know where they are stocked as I've only ever bought Lady Biba pieces at LPM, but you can check out their website on ladybiba.com, or their tumblr page.

Things Nigerians Love

This is a label that's very close to my heart and were the first ones I saw that showed Nigerian labels could actually be affordable.

I own the two jumpsuits above, a couple of dresses and a pair of shoes from the brand and they have never disappointed me in the least.

Dresses, blouses, skirts, shoes, jewelry...not one item from TNL goes above N10,000. You can shop TNL on thingsnigerianslove.com

This is not an exhaustive list and I know there are some labels I probably haven't heard about that are of standout quality and available to the average person. So if you know any others, speak on it, I'm always willing to expand my knowledge.

Love and light xx


  1. Thank you ffor this post...Nigerian brands are so ridiculously expensive.

    Will def check out the brands listed here.


  2. I'm in love with the lady biba white top. What is LPM? So I know where to look when I'm in Lag please? And I'm loving the Rukky Simone size chart. It's so realistic

    1. follow them on instagram for more info. It happens every last Sunday of the month.

  3. Very helpful and i totally agree with you. Thank youuu

  4. This post is ALL kinds of AWESOME!!!

    I was weak when I saw a dress for N64,000. I typically convert the naira price to the dollar equivalent, and if I don't think I would buy it in the $$ amount, why spend the N amount? As much as I'd like to patronize Nigerian brands, I find the prices too high for my comfort. Most of the time, I buy only when there are sales.

  5. Thank you for this post! I have a heart flutter when I read the very ridiculous price on the label of some Nigerian designer dresses! It's like are you trying to make your annual profit from one sale?! We want to rock #ProudlyNigerian but please let them enable us to do so!
    Thank you for this list.. Now I can consider buying from a Nigerian designer without thinking of the next bank to rob afterwards.. xx

  6. Amen to this, could not agree more, exorbitant prices for really bad or subpar quality.

    I came across a good line while i was in lagos over the break, Chechi Arinze? shes good and her prices are reasonable, check her out as well. :)

  7. Meanwhile notice the blue jumpsuit trend or is that just me?

  8. Thanks for this.. They are so overpriced that it leaves me thinking if they make any money at all! The average Nigerian would never pay that amount for a dress and they are the market u need! They end up giving celebs free clothes cos ain't nobody making 200 quid for something that a tailor made in ur back yard!

  9. My dear.. I guess some of them are rich kids or runs babes cos I doubt they sell that many clothes.. But some of them live in high brow areas and drive fancy cars.. Make ur brand affordable and see urself laughing to the bank.. We understand the time spent and all but isn't it the same time a tailor in yaba market wld spend too and still price u reasonably .. Wtf??

  10. Thank you for this post! I came back to Nigeria this year and was so surprised how little choice of good quality, stylish but affordable clothing there is. Finding Rukky Simone in Grey Velvet in Ikeja - btw started by Rukky Ladoja from the label Grey!! and her American friend Simone - was a blessing. Found them also online on www.rukkysimone.com

  11. Yes oh these ones are so real and down to earth. Only knew about TNL before. Will check out the other two.

  12. Seeing as you've been seriously reading my mind lately, all I can say is thank you for this post.

  13. Bless your little (or big) cotton socks (as one of my friends would say) for this!

  14. Never commented on your blog but God bless u for this post.

  15. Rukky Simone is amazeballs!!! got a top and skirt there.

  16. This post is on point. I live in England, so the first thing I do when I see the prices is convert to pounds and I am just always appalled when I think of what I can get for the same price on the highstreet. Luv Rukky Simone and Lady Biba !

  17. All well said, bought some really nice stuffs from TNL at really affordable prices. As fashionistas we shouldn't break the bank just cos we need to look FAB... Kudos dear...

  18. Waoh God bless u Adaku for this post! I love me some Rukky simone, and I have patronised things Nigerian love, and they are quite affordabLe, You can also check this young designer up, she run Wonderchild Fashion, her designs are so cheap N have good quality

    Love and light

  19. You are right, I saw one Rukky Simone dress you showed on your instagram and i went searching and i bought over ten clothes for less than 60k. I am already checking out the 2 other labels you mentioned. My name is Adaku too and you are my role model. I stalk you on both Twitter and Instagram. Thank you for all your wonderful insights.

  20. 1 million likes. Yu hit the nail on the head kpom kwen


  21. I love this! The issue for me is not just the price but how RUBBISH and (like you said) mediocre these clothes are. I have a couple of quality tailors who wont take up to a 12th of what they charge. And I've noticed it's not just for fashion designers...it's the status quo of a typical Nigerian person (in every industry - hair, food, telecoms, everything) - being average and waiting for the world to celebrate you...it's sad...smh...

  22. Do all the brands you have mentioned manufacture in Nigeria? TNL stuffs seems to be from China. I"ll will appreciate a brand that manufactures quality, well finished and affordable at home.

    1. Seriously, does it matter where?

  23. THANK YOU for this post.

    I've thought about this a lot of times, why Nigerian designer brands are so expensive. I let myself believe that they were trying to maintain a certain level like designers abroad, sky rocketing prices so their buyers, who are mostly really wealthy women/ men don't put them off as 'cheap' or low budget. And in truth, those are the people these designers design for, people who can pay the price without fretting or bargaining.

    Oh well, we (I) appreciate the presence of affordable brands that provide quality and hopefully, there are more to come.

  24. Preach! I'm all for supporting our local designers but not at the expense of my wallet. I can't be spending ridiculously on clothes that sometimes don't match the affordable clothes I get from stores like forever 21 and victoria secrets. The tailor in my backyard even sews really well too.. Maybe because he's not calling himself a "designer" yet.

  25. I love you Daks. Huge fan. I'd love to reveal my identity buy Professor X has been too naughty on the interwebs.

    Karen Ubani makes nice clothes too http://karen-ubani.blogspot.com/ facebook.com/karenubani


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