Feature: Traditional attires caving in for Western clothes in Nigeria


By Olatunji Saliu
ABUJA, Nov. 15 — Unique in style and attractive in nature, traditional attires which partly reflect the ethnic diversity of Nigerians may soon cave in for Western clothes to be worn across the most populous country in Africa, according to a survey released here recently.
At least 75 percent of Nigeria’s estimated 170 million population now prefer to wear Western clothes on a daily basis, either to ceremonies or to their respective places of work, according to Stanley Okparocha, a boutique owner in Abuja, who sells mainly ready-made Western wears at his shop in a highbrow area of the capital city.
“This is because we are moving in a digital world and it is a global trend. These days, most people prefer to go for the Western wears than traditional attires. Every week, I think it is only Fridays that you can see people in their numbers wearing traditional wears. But from Saturday to Thursday every week, more people prefer to wear more Western clothes,” said Okparocha, a native of southeast Anambra State.
He explained that the only reason some Nigerians do not wear western dresses on Saturdays is premised on social outings, at which many would like to step out in traditional attires.
With different elegant styles, Nigerians took pride in adorning their traditional attires over the years. It is not wrong to say rich fashion sense is a significant part of the lifestyle of many citizens of the West African country, who wear range of clothes, including western and native attires to various places.
For instance, every workday of the week, it can be noted that, in the southern part of the country, western attires such as shirt and trousers, skirts and blouses, suits and so on are predominantly worn to work; while in the northern part of the country, citizens always prefer to wear traditional attires to work.
“For me, if you check my wardrobe, I don’t have more than two native wears. I don’t like wearing native dresses because I don’t look smart in them and they cost a lot of money,” Okparocha said.
It is obvious most of the youths do not even prefer to wear the traditional attires, except when the need arises as they step out for social events.
“Considering the nature of my work, definitely, I should put on something more corporate. Considering the kind of customers I relate with, it is expected of me to dress in westernized way and that is why I always wear the suit, even as we all know that the weather in Nigeria is a bit hot at times,” said Femi Kolawole, a marketing officer at the First Bank of Nigeria.
He noted, among other causes, that due to the culture contact with Western countries, the Nigerian youth have imbibed the Western culture, going a step further to flood their wardrobes with mainly western wears.
“The gospel truth is that the Nigerian culture has been eroded. Hardly will you see a youth in Nigeria that wants to wear a traditional outfit, unless there is a kind of social gathering including wedding or festivals. Apart from that, you will see that an average youth in this country prefers a pair of denim trousers or a lady wearing normal pant trousers and a T-shirt almost every day of the week.
“With this, you will agree that our traditional dress sense is gradually being eroded,” he added.
Interestingly, textiles such as jacquard, Ankara (African prints or fabrics), lace fabrics, the local Adiire (made from tie and dye) and many others, which were originally being used for designing the traditional attires – have now become the materials used in creating more western designs by the youth.
It is not rare to find an average Nigerian youth or even adults wearing suits, shirts and pant trousers, skirts and blouses and so on, made from these fabrics.
Cynthia Osaretin, an apprentice at a fashion designing outfit, told Xinhua that most clients now prefer to either sew Western styles using such aforementioned fabrics instead of wearing traditional attires.
“One of the reasons people prefer to wear western clothes is because it is much more easier for you to go to the market, buy and wear the ready-made ones whenever you feel like. It saves the cost and stress of going to the market to buy the materials before taking them to the tailors or designers, who might fail to sew the exact style you wanted,” she said.
Corroborating Osaretin’s explanation, Nwodoh Nnadozie, a shop owner who sells fabrics at the upscale Wuse Market in Abuja, said demand for western wears is on the rise, especially because the Yuletide is drawing nigh.
“The western wear is easy to get because it is ready-made and you just come around, see varieties of clothes and choose the one you want. Most people think designers who make those traditional attires always demand for a lot of money,” he said.
Undoubtedly, on the whole, Nigerian traditional clothing is very unique and interesting, according to Ahmad Sambo Waja, a northerner who resides in Jos, capital of Nigeria’s middle-bet Plateau State.
“Traditional wears command a lot of respect because there are places that, if you go with your traditional attires, people will respect and regard you. Having said this, I think both traditional and Western attires are important. They can both command respect for the individual that is wearing them.
“For the elderly people, traditional attires are more befitting. While the elderly people go about wearing such traditional clothes like Agbada or Babariga, Kaftan, and so on, the young people, especially the students like the western wears,” he said.
However, the crave for western wears cannot be said to be unconnected to the increase in demands for second-hand clothes in the West African country, despite a government ban on selling used garments.
As of January this year, statistics by government officials revealed that an estimated 80 percent of the citizens wear the illicit or used garments sold in different parts of the country.
Ostensibly designed to protect local textile producers, the ban was imposed by government, to also promote the wearing of traditional attires by the citizens, especially the youths.[db:内容2]