The Nigerian Fashion Industry has experienced tremendous growth within the last decade.
Rising from an industry that contributed N1.3 million to the Gross Domestic Product in 2013, to account for 15% of the $31 billion figure stated as the worth of the fashion industry in Sub-Saharan Africa.
From made-to-order fashion brands, ready-to-wear brands, runway fashion shows, and even the textile, apparel, and footwear sector has averaged a growth of 17% since 2010, the industry is gradually commanding global respect and attention.
From hosting events like the Lagos Fashion Week, Beauty West Africa, Cosmex Nigeria to being home to some of the biggest fashion designers like Kai Collective, Abiola Olusola Official, Lisa Folawiyo, the Nigerian fashion industry has continued to expand and break new fronts.
Asides from this growth, it is important to note that the industry still has a long way to go and one of the ways to do this is through effective and efficient use of public relations and communications.
What is Public Relations in Fashion?
Fashion PR is the promotion of clothing, accessory labels, and brands through earned media channels. Some of these media channels include broadcast, print, and online media outlets.
The target of this aspect of the communication and advertising industry are editors, producers, reporters, and writers at influential and popular mass media outlets like Vogue, Elle, New York Times.
In December 2020, Abiola Olusola Official; a womenswear fashion brand based in Lagos got featured in Vogue where they talked about issues surrounding climate change and dressing for a hotter planet.
Asides from the fact that it presented the brand to a bigger and global audience, there is a form of credibility that resonates in the mind of the target audience by seeing their favorite fashion brands on reputable media organizations.
In another way, a more substantial part of fashion PR focuses on bloggers, social media influencers, and YouTubers.
A common example of this is what we all see in partnerships between certain Nigerian fashion brands and influencers like Iamyeychi and Shopmakalive, Kamsi Nnamani and Kache clothing, Nonye (Thisthingcalledfashion) and Dibas RTW.
Although this aspect has not been effectively utilized in the Nigerian fashion industry, certain fashion brands, organizers of fashion shows discovered the impact of this creative industry on the overall fashion business.
Credit: Andrea Iyamah
In 2021, the Lagos Fashion Week returned for its tenth edition after a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the EndSARS protest.
The popular Nigerian Fashiom show that continues to demonstrate its commitment through funding, retail/access to market, manufacturing, sustainability, and circular fashion, technology, education properly utilized the power of public relations in its tenth edition.
After the break, increased conversations needed to be circulated to enhance awareness of the show.
This was done through partnerships with popular fashion houses like Orange Culture, Andrea Iyamah, Bella Naija style, and a host of others.
What these press releases, reposts, videos did was generate more organic conversations to increase the reach of the show.
This effort paid off as the show ended on high notes as reported by Bella Naija. From the runways, street style, fashion parties, and exhibitions, the fashion week offered a very exciting opportunity for Nigerian fashion brands to showcase their designs, secure grants, and connect to investors.
This is a clear example of a beneficial partnership between the fashion and public relations industry.
The fashion week experienced an influx of people, and the media houses aside from publishing information about the event received more traffic to their websites.
How Fashion PR Works
- Celebrities Play a Key Role
Just as discussed above, the position of celebrities and widely accepted individuals cannot be overemphasized in the world of public relations.
These celebrities and influencers are trendsetters and they have a large audience loyal to them. In what might look like a shift from the normal, emerging fashion brands should consider working with more up-and-coming celebrities before they reach the big time.
- High Profile Events are Necessary
High-end profile events like the Lagos Fashion Week, popup shows, exhibitions are very important for fashion brands, especially luxury or high-end items.
Globally, luxury fashion brands use events like the Oscars, New York Fashion Week, the Canned Film Festival to promote their brands.
In Nigeria and Africa, shows like the Headies Award, Afrimma, BET, Lagos Fashion Week where fashion takes center stage are used.
- Influencers Wield their Influence
It is very common for you to see a Youtube video with the tag (sponsored by an xyz).
This is a section of Nigerian fashion PR. When these brands send their products to influencers for a review (organic outreach), you are ensuring your products get to a larger audience as these influencers with devoted influencers are key to spreading the word about your brand.
A fusion or collaboration between the world of public relations and the fashion industry has several key benefits for both sides of the bargain.
From an increased reach to direct traffic and more sales, the list is endless.