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The evolution of fashion since independence

By Rebecca Oluwabusayo Ajayi & Linda Bernard

From the 1960’s till early 90’s, Nigeria was very much influenced by European fashion, and more special, British fashion since the British colonized us. However, since the 90’s, the Nigerian fashion industry has experienced tremendous growth and has made this making major impact in the fashion world. Our forbearers have always been into fashion and they set the pace for what is the present day style.
Most Nigerian women wore long dresses and hat. The women dressed in both fitted and oversized outfit depending on preference complemented with permed, well sprayed Afros. The uneducated women simply wore their native clothes and did simple local hair styles.
The trend for women is now what we call Oleku, thanks to a movie of the same name: a bagy-sleeved Bubba worn over an Iro that stopped anywhere from a little above the knees to mid-thigh. Men wore Agbadas and Danshikis, trends that have made a stunning comeback. For a more western look, it was all about the colors. For example, a man could rock a blue jumpsuit and shoes to match. The seventies also gave rise to the Jerry curls and perms for both sexes.
In the eighties, everything was big! Maxi skirts for women, baggy suits for men, chunky jewellery, huge perms and wild Afros. Some of the fashion raves were funny such as some people wearing leg warmers, a sweater and a mini skirt all at the same time, all very loudly colored.
Fashion started experiencing subtle changes; it became more retro. Pop and Hip. The Capri’s pants began to make a comeback; the miniskirts, the trousers – a pair of shorts and skirts sewn together- also sprung up amongst many others. For the native attire, bonus was the most popular in this era. Men’s fashion also sews a change. Trouser hems became narrower and narrower while the fit in the hip and waist grew looser and men wore their hair short.
American fashion is still influencing what a lot of people wear but thankfully, a lot of Nigerians are embracing ethics and traditional clothing, wearing them to official and social functions. Hair is now Brazilian, Peruvian or Chinese but still, a trend that may be seen as really unique to this present time is the natural hair locks. Lightning creams are also the rave now and shoes are a mix of so many eras- the stilettos, wedge and flat shoes are still very much in the mix.
Another great thing is that a lot of ‘old’ looks are making a comeback. Skinny jeans and bell bottoms have come and go, head scarves are making a comeback and even Afros are back either in the form of weaves or natural hair. Fashion is a repetitive process and Nigerian fashion is no exception to this rule.

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