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Casual wear by Ms Luchies | Courtesy of Victor Ehikhamenor
Casual wear by Ms Luchies | Courtesy of Victor Ehikhamenor
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A Guide to the Style and Legacy of Nigerian Custom-Made Clothing

Picture of Ayodele Olofintuade
Updated: 6 July 2017

Lagos is a cosmopolitan city, full of stylish and fashion-savvy people. Whether they are at leisure, seeking pleasure or in boardrooms, they are to be found looking elegant and well-put together. Their seemingly unerring sense of chicness and love of fabrics and styles that reflect their African heritage has led to the growth of a thriving fashion industry, presently exporting their unique elegance to the streets of Europe and America.

First, the fabric

Choosing the fabric is one of the most exciting parts of making clothes. Do you want it in bright, sunny colours or darker, colder tones? Do you want it patterned or plain, heavy or light? Ankara, batik (adire) and other African prints are all the rage now. Ankara is pretty versatile and works beautifully with other fabrics like chiffon and silk. To get a wide variety, the best quality and decent prices, head to Balogun, Jankara and Ikoyi, which are ideal markets to begin your search.

Ankara fabrics | Courtesy of anckara.com

Style is who we are

Style is so much more than the cut of your clothes, and this is an art form that seems to be innate to the average Lagosian. Finding clothing styles that reflect your personality has never been so easy, as there are whole websites, blogs and magazines dedicated to different designs for different body types. If at a crossroad, consult a fashion stylist or designer, or even a tailor who can stitch together the perfect outfit for you.

Formal party attire | © Khalid Ayanshina

Tailored to your needs

Tailoring used to be the most frustrating aspect of getting custom clothing made. In spite of the fact that Lagos is chock full of ‘fashion houses’, ‘designers’ and ‘tailors’, to find a tailor who will bring out the best in your fabric, fit your body type and at the same time be comfortable, used to be an adventure in itself. However, in recent years, a lot of young Nigerians are taking advantage of the internet to push their services – and the results have been changing the landscape of tailoring and design in Nigeria.

Ms Luchies is one such dynamic entrepreneur’s brand, with fun, easy-to-wear clothes, formal or casual, providing elegant and bespoke tailoring. Although they handle most fabrics, their specialty is ankara and African prints. Not only are their products affordable, they are easily accessible and they ship globally.

Casuals for children and adults | © Atunnise Clothiers

Another brand that has established itself as a go-to-place for custom-made clothing, but which also carries a ready-to-wear line, is Atunnise Clothiers. They specialize in edgy, yet practical designs, using both African prints and fabrics from other continents. Beyond designing and manufacturing, they are also a learning hub for garment line production processes and they provide training for stay-at-home mothers, teenagers and fresh graduates in Lagos.

Ready to go? First adorn yourself…

This guide would be incomplete without a mention of accessories; shoes, bags, neck pieces, scarves – the little touches that add that final twist to your outfit. As with all things fashion-related, accessories can be found and bought in both Balogun and Jankara markets, or you can order your custom-made accessories from a plethora of young artists doing amazing things with leather, beads, feathers, fabrics and more.

Bracelets | © Ileke by Munoyedi

One fashion accessory coming back into style – in Nigeria as a whole, and Lagos in particular – is beads. They adorn waists, ankles, wrists and necks, and Ileke by Munoyedi is one of the brands pushing boundaries with its use of crystals and gemstones. Munoyedi combines the traditional with the modern in quirky and unique pieces she designs and ships globally.