Lagos Leather Fair is a first of its kind in Nigeria for all the stakeholders along the leather value chain, and was created to identify the challenges facing the industry with the hope to discuss possible innovative and sustainable solutions. The first edition held last year, and this year the fair is scheduled to hold on theÂ 5th and 6th of MayÂ at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos. Founded by Femi Olayebi of FemiHandbags, the fair is a private initiative that seeks to promote leather designers by creating a networking platform to showcase their work and eventually provide the much-needed training for artisans that would essentially improve the general quality of our finished products.
Last year, over 2,500 people gathered for the first edition of the fair to learn from the various master classes, panel discussions and creative workshops. Attendees also got to shop and discover Made-in-Nigeria leather products from over 50 leather exhibitors. With the diverse local and international speakers such as Waheed Olagunju, Segun Awolowo, Muni Shonibare, Reni Folawiyo, Tokunbo Onagoruwa, Zainab Ashadu, Robert Gussoni, Nelly Wandji, and not least of all the able representative of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Isyaku Umar Tofa, the fair was educational and impactful.
The leather industry has been identified by the Bank of Industry to generate an annual income of N24.5 billion with limited support and also have the capacity to create over 700,000 direct and indirect jobs, therefore implying that the industry has not been maximised to its full potential.
According to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who spoke at the validation workshop on National Leather and Leather Products Policy held in Sokoto in January, â€œthe leather industry is the nationâ€™s next gold mine and holds the key to industrial growth, jobs and wealth creationâ€™. He also described the leather industry as â€˜strategic in view of its importance in the economic diversification of the country.â€
This year, the fair is themed â€˜The New Possibleâ€™ as it will focus on the many possibilities and massive potential the Nigeria leather industry has to offer.Â
To encourage up and coming designers, the â€œEmerging Designers Competitionâ€ has been introduced, and is aimed at giving young, aspiring leather designers an opportunity and a platform to showcase their work. The top 5 finalists will win a cash prize, a mentoring opportunity and a booth at the Fair.
According to Femi Olayebi, Founder, The Lagos Leather Fair, â€œLast yearâ€™s event was a real eye-opener for everyone. This year, we intend to explore the myriad possibilities before us and do what we can with what we have to own that space.Â The world is looking to Africa for answers and the time has come to position ourselves for real growth. At the end of the day it is really up to us.â€
The Lagos Leather Fair is a step in the right direction, bringing all the major players including leather designers, raw material producers, suppliers of machinery and equipment, manufacturers of finished goods, retailers and key government players to collectively forge a new path and explore ways to re-invent the leather industry.