How To Start A Fashion Business In Nigeria

The fashion business is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

In Nigeria, its popularity is accelerating every day with fashion designers experiencing an increased need by people to want to purchase designer clothes, wear custom made traditional fashion items to occasions and events, adjust ready-made clothing bought from the markets, purchase mass produced and imported fashion items, and much more.

The frenzy surrounding the local impact of the fashion business in Nigeria is setting a business trend leading to the creation of a new fashion store at every street corner almost every day, whether a proper feasibility study had been carried out by the store owner or not.

With several roles for aspiring, new, and existing entrepreneurs to play in the fashion industry, here’s how to start a fashion business in Nigeria, Africa, or anywhere else around the world:

What Is The Fashion Business About?

The fashion business is about the manufacturing, modification, importation, exportation, and general sale of fashion items in Nigeria, Africa, or anywhere else around the world.

Business Opportunities In The Fashion Business

1). Fashion Design Business:

The fashion design business is one of the most popular segments of the fashion business in Nigeria. Creative individuals operate in this segment, and they bring their ideas to life in different ways, through various designs. After sewing, the clothing are then packed and sold to people with a knack for buying designer wears.

The roadside tailors also operate in this segment, as they sew custom-made non-designer clothing for their clients. They also patch and adjust ready-made clothes brought in by people, and this makes up a bulk of their smaller revenue stream, since most people who visit come in to fix one thing or the other.

2). Fashion Retail Business:

Running fashion boutiques or retail stores is another popular segment of the fashion business in Nigeria. They’re widespread across the country, and can be found in every marketplace and most street corners.

People have a longing need to always buy clothing at some point, and as a result, fashion boutiques continue to record product sales daily.

3). Fashion Import/Export Business:

The fashion import/export business comprises of the people who manufacture locally for exports, or that import from other countries. They’re large scale players in the fashion business in Nigeria and many other countries. They usually import in large containers and distribute to widespread market traders.

Due to the large volumes involved in this segment, the fashion import/export business is mostly played by deep pocket individuals or people who have strong access to bank loan facilities.

Many low-budget entrepreneurs still operate here and import import items from Aliexpress or Alibaba, but most of the successful lots are those who import in large quantities and distribute to traders in large markets.

Facts And Benefits Of The Fashion Business

  • The market is growing faster than many other industries
  • The basic start-up cost can sometimes be very little
  • It’s an easy source of income
  • The profit margins can be high, depending on which type of fashion business you’re running

Setting Up Your Fashion Business (Manufacturing)

1). Decide The Type Of Fashion Business You Want:

The first step is to determine the type of fashion business you intend to start. As stated above, there are about three different types, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the manufacturing of fashion items for the creation of a fashion brand.

2). Create Your Designs:

The next step is to sketch your designs. For this, you don’t need a special degree or certification. Rather, you need a creative mind and one that has a knack for spotting trendy marketable products.

If you have problems putting your ideas down on paper, you can attend a fashion school, so you can trigger and bring a part of your creative side to life.

3). Make A Sample:

The next step is to make a sample of the product(s) you intend to manufacture. The samples can be made locally, but usually cost very high amounts. When you have the sample you want and are sure it meets all the specifications you need, you can go on to find a factory that can produce your fashion items in bulk.

4). Find A Factory:

To find a factory for your fashion business in Nigeria, you could start with Alibaba. Another way could be to either get a referral from an importer or to physically pay the manufacturing hub a visit in whichever country it is.

If your preferred manufacturing location is China, the most popular location for manufacturing fashion items there is Guangzhou.

Upon locating the factory, the first step would be to ensure they can successfully replicate the prototype you have, after which you can then go on to place a bulk order with different shapes and sizes.

5). Market Your Product:

Here, you’d need to setup a sales and marketing team whose goal is to come with a market and execution plan to build up and grow your fashion brand. Since sales is the life-blood of every business, it is advisable you consult a sales expert before you spend a dollar of your money trying to promote any fashion items to a market that may or may not be the right fit for them.

Challenges Of The Fashion Business

1). High setup costs:

Depending on the type of fashion business in Nigeria you’re setting up, it could either be really cheap to start up or very expensive to execute.

2). Rising costs of production: 

Fluctuations in exchange rate values makes the cost of goods and services jump. When the currency depreciates, it falls against the US dollar price, causing the local market price to rise.

3). Marketing & Sales: 

Building a reliable distribution network can be difficult for many fashion entrepreneurs. As such, they need to hire experienced sales people who may eat deeply into their profits. The constraints fashion entrepreneurs face in marketing their products causes many to have low turnovers, which eventually leads to a lot of closed shops.

4). Sourcing credible manufacturers: 

Finding reliable manufacturers in foreign countries can be difficult, especially when you’re basing your research over the internet. With many non credible people masquerading themselves online as garment manufacturers, getting a factory that’d actually produce what you want in the right quality, quantity, and price can prove difficult to find.

5). Staying up-to-date with the trends: 

To stay active and not get knocked off by the competition, fashion brands around the world have to constantly innovate. They need to release a new style every quarter or so, and ensure they’re designing their wears in tune to the current market demands.

6). Competition: 

The fashion business in Nigeria is very crowded, and so, profitability is difficult to achieve, especially for people who are operating in tight niches. Unless a fashion brand can successfully distinguish itself from others, and still create a social ripple effect with its brand name, while offering a superior service at very competitive prices, breaking even would be difficult to achieve.


The fashion business in Nigeria, just like many other businesses, can be profitable and can be terrible for any entrepreneur. First doing an extensive research, asking the right questions, and fully understanding the trade can help you succeed in the fashion business in Nigeria or anywhere else around the world.

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