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Nigerian Leather Industry: A growing market for high-quality, affordable, and sustainable leather products

Business

The increasing popularity of made-in-Nigeria products is a major trend that is driving the growth of the Nigerian leather industry. Consumers home and abroad are increasingly looking for products that are made in Nigeria. This is due to several factors, including the desire to support local businesses, and an increasing number of Nigerian companies producing affordable, quality, and sustainable products. This makes it easier for Nigerian consumers to find the products they are looking for.

Generally, Nigerians are more attracted to “imported” products over locally made ones due to social status as well as brand reputation and have come to value them more than locally manufactured goods. Although more goods are being bought from other countries than locally, there is a slow but steady shift towards buying locally manufactured goods.

Over the years, there have been several advocates and campaigns for made-in-Nigeria products, due to the fact that for a long time, the quality of made-in-Nigeria products has been perceived to be low, especially linked to the use of substandard materials, poor workmanship, a lack of attention to detail, and inadequate quality control. As a result of these factors, made-in-Nigeria products have often been seen as inferior to imported products, leading to a reluctance on the part of many Nigerians to buy made-in-Nigeria products.

However, there are several industry leaders and stakeholders who are working to change this narrative and significant progress has been made. This is being achieved by investments in research and development to improve the quality of made-in-Nigeria products, upskilling workers, and implementing quality control measures to ensure that products meet international standards.

These initiatives are starting to pay off. The quality of made-in-Nigeria products is improving, and there is a growing demand for these products both at home and abroad. As a result, the Made-in-Nigeria campaign is gaining momentum. There is a growing awareness of the importance of supporting local businesses, and Nigerians are starting to see the value in buying made-in-Nigeria products.

LLF

According to a report by Statista on the Market insight on Footwear in Nigeria, Nigeria’s footwear market is experiencing a surge in demand for locally made, handcrafted shoes due to a growing appreciation for traditional craftsmanship. The report showed that in 2023, the revenue generated from the footwear market in Nigeria will amount to US$2.40 billion, and it is projected to grow annually by an 8.43% CAGR from 2023 to 2028. The Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST) reports that Nigeria has the capacity to make 200 million pairs of shoes yearly, valued at more than $1.4 billion. The growth of the industry cuts across bags and accessories, not just footwear.

The growing population of the country of over 200 million people coupled with the increased and, more importantly, consistent growth in the leather industry are contributing factors to the growing market in Nigeria.

One of the industry stakeholders who has been consistently changing the narrative through an initiative, Lagos Leather Fair, LLF is Femi Olayebi, the founder, LLF and Creative Director of My World of Bags, FemiHandbags, a premium leather handbags and accessories brand based in Ibadan, Nigeria. Having experienced firsthand the many challenges within the industry year-on-year, Olayebi decided to create a platform that would begin to change the narrative within a neglected and misunderstood sector.

The initiative Lagos Leather Fair, LLF created over five years ago, aims to create awareness of the potential value of the industry by providing a much-needed platform for leather designers to showcase their products and their talent, and work towards finding sustainable solutions to move the industry forward and ensure that the Made-in-Nigeria Project and Zero-Oil Initiative becomes a reality.

LLF is committed to achieving various aims and objectives, some of which are to facilitate access to the market through different programmes and enhance brand expansion opportunities through international fairs and pop-ups, establish strategic partnerships with relevant industry stakeholders, and begin to put the right structures and policies in place to grow the finished leather goods sector in Nigeria and beyond.

The initiative has contributed largely to the visibility of made-in-Nigeria products because, over the past years, it has showcased quality, affordable, and sustainable leather products from Nigerian leather designers. This has helped in changing the narrative that all made-in-Nigeria products are of low standards; now Nigerians can see that there are designers in the industry who are working tirelessly to ensure that quality products are designed and produced, while also factoring in cultural heritage into the designs.

Not only is LLF showcasing products and talents, but some of the achievements of LLF in the past five years are also: over 150 exhibiting brands—leather designers of footwear, handbags, apparel, jewellery and furniture; raw material producers (tanners); craftsmen and manufacturers; suppliers of machinery and equipment; leather retailers, etc., have featured in the fair; the fair has brought over 100 local and international speakers and tons of master classes and workshops.

The LLF 2023, which is the sixth edition themed Staying Ahead: Creativity, Collaboration, and Commitment,” will hold on the 17th and 18th of June at The Balmoral, Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event will encapsulate the dynamic spirit of the growing leather industry. It will celebrate the relentless pursuit of innovation, the power of collaboration, and the unwavering commitment to quality and sustainability.

The event is well-packed and will feature several activities, such as the exhibitions of both local and international designers, conversations and masterclasses, workshops, runway shows, and Pitch-A-LeatherBiz, a unique opportunity for emerging leather designers to pitch their business ideas to prospective investors. Also, to celebrate creativity, excellence, and innovation while recognizing trailblazers and renowned brands, LLF 2023 will introduce the LLF Awards.

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