On a bright sunny day with temperature at some 34°C in good ol’ Lasgidi, Precious and I walked into the hall of Eko Convention Center venue of the 2015 Lagos Fashion Fair. Phew! Good relief. The cool and refreshing air that met us was a reminder how swiftly and easily one could switch from one world to another – whatever!
Time was just some minutes off eleven. Shades off, we sashayed to the reception desk to sign in and pick up our tags. Light banter with the girls at the desk. Giggles, grins and some show of dentition; and we disappeared into the exhibition hall for the Lagos Fashion 2015 hosted by Meridyen International Organization.
Nicotine! The smell hung about the hall. Sure enough not a few of the exhibitors were smoking. I chuckled to myself at my colleague’s disapproval as we sauntered around the hall, looking for which stall to start with.
Our first stop was Wam Pum, a collection of clothing from Turkey. Luckily they had a Nigerian with them who we chitchatted with. We moved on to Elpa Cesar’s – well really, we were moving on past when they beckoned us in. Their space was quite big, and I noticed their nice collection of blazers and jackets just at the entrance to their stand.
They were Turks too. Hasan Yersel, the actual one who invited us in offered a seat. He introduced himself and gave me his card. The price range of their product was reasonable okay, and the quality was pretty good. I made a mental note to look out for them when next I’m in Ikeja. Business done. Group photograph, and we’re off to the next one.
More nicotine. The next one was puffing on his cigarette and Precious wanted to move on. He looked scary too – okay, he just looked tough and mean with his bald head and thick beard. He was from Turkey too and the outfit is called BISSE. I approached and shook his right hand as he shifted his smoke to the left. “Niyi” he said.
“Hmm…. I’m impressed. You pronounced that correctly.”
“Oh. Thank you.” He smiled.
He showed us his products. I really liked the shirts. He told us he has an outlet in Abuja, but not yet in Lagos. Pictures…
Off we go. Okay, so now we arrived at a Nigerian stand and she’s got a whole range of beauty and assorted products. Mostly ladies stuff. There is a massage slippers that caught my attention, however dear Precious was more interested in the Coconut oil for her hair.
We slipped away and came to YXC, another exhibitor. Yeah, another Turk. Precious pointed out that the model on the roller banner was the same guy in the stand attending to us. Who cares? Girls and the things they notice. I was busy checking out the blazers, anyway. Unfortunately, he does not have an outlet in Nigeria yet. He just came to exhibit. He noticed my interest in the blazers and he told me I could pick one for US$50. Now, where is the money when you need ‘em?
I asked him if he had a POS. He said no. Oh, well maybe a miracle will happen before we leave the venue.
“Okay. I guess it’s more of a Turkey affair.” I said to Precious as we walked away.
“Yeah, I noticed.” She said in her trademark low tone.
We’ve been walking around, back and forth and the limbs were beginning to protest; and we haven’t found an African exhibitor! Just when you say something out… We turned a corner and there is a small stall, Kola Kuddus Couture. Finally. A guy and girl – the guy is the marketing manager, Ibukun Olumuyiwa. We exchanged cards and he introduced the girl as his assistant. Nice African design…
On the move again. We arrived at another African stand, Tuscany Leather. Here, they had leather products: bags, bags, and bags. Okay. Sam had been here on Day 1. I remember I say the card on his desk. They had nice woven leather belts too…
The PAS (public address system) cracked to life. Workshop and the runway was going to commence soon. In the meantime, it looked like a good time to find something to stuff the gut with. So Precious and I stepped out of the hall into the sunshine. No, the sun still had a scowl on as if it was angry over something. The stare down from above was passionate and vindictive. A quick snack and refreshing cold drink and we hurried back into the other world where the sun had no power. God bless the dude who invented air conditioning units!
We were just making another quick round when we saw Kíjìpá Couture. Hmmm… impressive! African fabric and style, leather sandals and belts, fabric shoes, etc. Workshop and runway was set to kick off, so we went over and took our seats. First up on set was Adewale Adegbaiye, Chief Couturier of…yeah you guessed right – Kíjìpa Couture. He did seem to like talking. Well, he did say some important thing which the appreciative guests – many of them, young students of fashion at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos – found helpful.
Ibílẹ Vogue and Kola Kuddus followed after, and I was impressed with both – particularly the owner of Ibílẹ Vogue. She really knew her onions – or perhaps her stitches. Her son even designs with her.
Finally, the runway – and the models came out in all the beautifully crafted designs. It was pretty cool. Kíjìpá Couture, Kola Kuddus, T-Smart, Ibílẹ Vogue, YXC, and a couple of others. The host signed off the segment, and mentioned the next event was slated for October and it promises to be bigger. Officially, the event had come to an end, but exhibition continued.
Somehow, I still hoped for a miracle. We tried to catch some of the African exhibitors, unfortunately we only spoke with Kíjìpá Couture. Ibílẹ Vogue, we learnt had to rush off the island to beat the traffic. In any case, other exhibitors were already packing their stuff.
Yep! My mind was made up. I’m going to make that miracle happen. I’m going to get that US$50 and give myself a birthday gift. I dragged Precious along and we found an ATM. Phase one successful. Now to turn Naira into dollars. Another success. Now, what if YXC had gone before we returned to the hall?
Well, he was still around – and I got me a birthday present.