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The Nigerian Fashion Evolution From 1960 to 2016

Change is a phenomenon in human existence. From the time of Adam and Eve. Where leaves and animal skin were beheld as the toast of the moment, to the age of "bend down select", fashion has been a changing trend from bikins in the 60's to the bongos in the 70's to the brocades in the 80's and the Ankara's of today. Fashion remains ever dynamic. brings to your doorstep the yesterday, today and tomorrow in the fashion world, albelt the Akwa Ibom Perspective. This is fashion evolution.

Popular Nigerian fashion designer, Ade Bakare once said “In fashion, trends come and go but real style retains its appeal.” There is no doubt that Nigerian fashion industry has evolved, with influences from Western culture.

In the sixties, most Nigerian women wore long dresses and hats. A perfect example of what they wore in that era is seen in the movie Half of a Yellow Sun. The women dressed in both fitted and oversized outfits depending on preference complemented with well sprayed afros.

Another trend that took the fashion industry by storm then were the mini skirts and dresses. This trend was allegedly invented by Mary Quaint and aimed at seductively showing off women’s legs.

Meanwhile, men rocked boot-legged pants, tight fitted shirts with loud prints and the first two buttons open topped by a killer afro.

The sixties’ trends were slightly altered in the seventies. In Nigeria in particular, the trend for women was what we now call ‘oleku’ thanks to a movie of the same name; a baggy-sleeved buba worn over a wrapper (iro) that stopped anywhere from a little above the knees to mid-thigh.

Men wore agbadas and dashikis, trends which incidentally seems to be making a return in 2015. For a more Western look, it was all about the colours. For example, a man could rock a blue jumpsuit and shoes to match.

The seventies also gave rise to the jerry curls and perms, trends that really took off in the seventies. READ ALSO: What Makes Nigerian Fashion Unique In the eighties, everything was big! Maxi skirts for women, baggy suits for men, chunky jewellery, huge perms.

The 1990s fashion was a bit more retro, pop and hip. The capris pants began to make a comeback; the miniskirts, the scousers – a pair of shorts and skirts sewn together – also sprung up amongst many others. For the native attire, bubus were the most popular in this era.

Men’s fashion also saw a change. Trouser hems became narrower while the fit in the hips and waist grew looser. Men wore their hair short – buzz cuts and fades were in as they ditched the curl activators and relaxers.

In the noughties, every trend was more or less retro, inspired by a previous era. Some of the trends came back bigger, better and sexier; the little black dress (made popular by legendary French designer Coco Chanel), the bell bottom jeans, cropped tops, capris pants, ballet flats and oversized glasses. Most of these trends have remained into this present decade.

A trend that may be seen as really unique to this era would be the natural hair look – black women swearing off relaxers and embracing their natural kinky locks. But we still rock our weaves and braids too.

The Nigerian fashion designer Mai Atafo, in a discussion about how fashion as an industry has evolved, said: “I think fashion has moved forwards since the 60s because I think we have more designers now, more outlets and more people consuming the fashion industry in Nigeria compared to when I was younger. It’s definitely improved from what I used to know.

“I believe that Nigeria can be a hub for fashion to West Africa and Africa as a whole because we have manpower. We are the most populous black nation in Africa. There is no reason why we can’t use ourselves as resources. That also foes for providing technical support for fashion, because if for any reason we can produce it, then we can export it to make money for the country. We can generate demand from what we export. For every export, we generate revenue for money and from other countries. I think that will help a lot.”

Another designer Jide Olumide, said: “I think fashion has progressed and I think it will keep getting better. It all depends on the fashion industry. If you are creative as a fashion designer, then it should certainly get better.

“Any creative person will always come up with something creative and unique. I think the Dashiki agbada is one of the best things that happened in fashion. When I make mine, I try to redefine it so it does not look random. Personally, I love seeing women in menswear.”


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