The wife of Ekiti State governor, Bisi Fayemi, has urged the Federal Government to ban imported ‘Aso-Oke’ fabric and revive the nation’s textile industry to boost sustainable economic growth.
‘Aso Oke’ is a hand-woven cloth created by the Yoruba people, which means “top cloth” in the English language, denoting cloth of high status.
However, Fayemi made the call to ban the importation of Aso Oke fabric during the 2019 Africa Fashion Week Nigeria (AFWN) on Saturday in Lagos.
“I will be a hypocrite to say that we should ban all fabrics because I do wear imported fabrics every now and then.
“But when it comes to Aso-oke that I know that our women in our local communities toil at to do; and do not have the capacity to produce to scale, instead of investing in that capacity, we are acquiring a situation that others are coming to rip off our intellectual property.
“So, I join others to call for a ban on imported Aso-oke from China,” Fayemi said.
According to her, Africa fashion is all about identity, self-love, dignity, attitude, and ownership to preserve its culture, heritage and connection to the international community.
Fayemi called for more collaboration between the operators in the fashion industry, the private sector, development partners and the government toward boosting the growth of the fashion and textile industry.
Also, Olufolake AbdulRazaq, Wife of the Kwara State Governor, said that African fashion had evolved and being embraced by lots of foreigners, even in Hollywood movies.
She said that Kwara State produced a lot of Aso Oke and Adire fabrics used for various events, adding that the state used its fashion as a tool for advocacy, empowerment and social development.
Commenting, Erelu Abiola Dosumu, the Erelu Kuti of Lagos, said that Nigeria was not maximising the economic benefits of the fashion industry to catalyse job creation, wealth and economic growth.
“There is a keen awareness about the fashion industry and we need to position the fashion industry to grow the Nigerian economy,” she said.
Dosumu called for more intervention funds for the fashion industry, resuscitation of comatose textile mills to boost fabric production and leverage technology to promote Nigeria’s culture and tradition through fashion.
Mrs Funmi Ajila-Ladipo, President, Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), called for the creation of a production hub to boost fashion designers’ activities and popularise Made-in-Nigeria designs.
Ajila-Ladipo urged the government to create an enabling environment through positive policy and direct involvement with the industry to boost growth and development of the sector.
Mrs Ronke Ademiluyi, Founder, Africa Fashion Week Nigeria (AFWN), said that the organisation was partnering with FirstBank to establish a production hub for fashion designers in Nigeria.
Ademiluyi said that the AFWN platform provided an opportunity to help promote Nigerian brands through worldwide visibility, manufacturing and distribution, with a focus on using fashion as an instrument for sustainability and social change.
Mrs Helen Ugboh, Business Manager, Corporate Banking, First Bank of Nigeria, said that the bank’s support for the AFWN aimed to increase engagement and international recognition of African fashion which was consistent with its drive to enable SME development.
She said that FirstBank’s continued support for the textile industry, Nollywood, indigenous fashion designers and other value-creating sectors, was to enhance economic development, sustainability, empowerment and social change in the country.
Ugboh said that the bank’s support had been through various platforms including; Mokalik and October 1st movie, and The Fashion Souk, which involved a sales pitch to a panel in conjunction with Bank of Industry (BoI), to provide seed fund for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
“At FirstBank, we put our customers and SMEs at the heart of our business because SME empowerment is a cause we hold dearly.
“Our 125-year stay has seen us making impact in every aspect of national development. As you may be aware, we are also a huge supporter of homegrown textiles and textiles in general.
“In celebrating the Bank’s 125th anniversary, we further demonstrated support of the textile industry through our over 18,000 staff within the FBNHoldings group being furnished with customized anniversary Ankara fabric to further reiterate our 125 years of being woven into the fabric of the society.
“In our just concluded FBNHoldings Christmas event, fashion designers were tasked with the challenge of creating designs with the anniversary fabric, some of these designers are part of this year’s AFWN,” she said.
She disclosed that the designs by the designers would be showcased as the FirstBank Collection during the event.