Lagos State government, the Emir of Kano, the Bank of Industry and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, all showed their strong support for the diversification of the economy as they endorsed the first ever Leather Fair in Nigeria.
The Lagos Leather Fair held on Saturday and Sunday, June 3 -4, 2017 at Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The fair was a private initiative by leather handbag designer, Femi Olayebi, who believed that a change in the narrative of leather industry was necessary, having stumbled on a 2014 World Bank report that placed leather as a potential second biggest earner of foreign exchange in Nigeria, after oil and gas.
Nigeria, among other countries in West Africa is considered as a potential source to supply tanned leather and finished leather products to developed and some developing countries. Besides, with long-term investment, Nigerian stakeholders can potentially share what could develop into a $104 million market for the country over the next ten years.
The fair brought together all those along the leather value chain including tanners, designers, shoemakers and manufacturers, who discussed the challenges being faced in the industry, identify possible solutions and pinpoint ways to improve the quality and design of finished leather goods.
The opening ceremony had in attendance Waheed Olagunju of BoI, Segun Awolowo, CEO, NEPC, Akodu Olalekan, permanent secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Co-operatives, and Isyaku Umar Tofa (Danadalan of Kano, representative of the Emir of Kano).
The Emir of Kano through an audio-visual emphasized the potential of the Nigerian leather industry, making reference to the popular Moroccan leather which is the Kano leather.
Masterclasses and workshops were led by renowned international and local speakers including; Roberto Gussoni (Leather Expert, Moda Pelle Academy Milan), Zainab Ashadu (Founder of Zashadu), Matiu Gordon (Founder/Creative Director of Nodrog Street), Muni Shonibare (CEO of IO furniture), Reni Folawiyo (Founder of Alara), Tosin Dekalu (CEO of the Lady Cobbler & Co), Olatokunbo Onagoruwa (Founder of the City Cobbler), Adeola Azeez (Founding member of WIMBIZ), Nelly Wandji (Founder of Moonlook Paris), Isioma Aihie (Founder of Grey Velvet stores), Bukky Karibi- Whyte (Founder of the Bobby Taylor Company), Bayo Rotimi (CEO of Quest Advisory Services) and Uche Nnaji (CEO of OUCH).
They addressed different aspects involved in developing the leather industry. Some of the topics discussed were; the fundamentals of shoe and bag design, Entrepreneurship and innovation in driving profitability, Repositioning your brand for the global market and Understanding your consumer.
An informative and interactive panel discussion themed “changing the narrative in the Nigerian leather industry”, was led by Peter Bamkole (Director EDC, Pan-Atlantic University), Mr. Adewale Bakare (representative of the Honorable Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment), Alhaji Balarabe Hassan (Bank of Industry) and Dr. Adeyinka Abimbola (Intervention Manager of MADE). The discussion highlighted the potential of the leather industry, which is capable of creating jobs for Nigerians. They also pointed out that with the right policies in place, the current earnings from the leather industry can be doubled.
The fair also featured workshops anchored by seasoned shoemakers and designers such as Adesola Benson and Obiora Odinma Ononye of Obi leather. There were over fifty leather exhibitors with various goods including bags, wallets, furniture, footwear and other accessories were present as guests had the opportunity to have an amazing shopping experience. The event was brought to a close with a runway show themed “The Leather Collective” which showcased the infusion of leather products from three top designers.
The narrative of the Nigerian leather Industry is set for change as all stakeholders have been recharged with the passion to do their bit in revitalizing the industry.
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