How ARISE Fashion Week Flew Made-in-Nigeria Flag High in Dubai

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Vanessa Obioha who was in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for the ARISE Fashion Week, reports not only how the event lit up the city, but reminded the world why Nigeria is a land of endless opportunities and outstanding talents

On Nigeria’s Day at the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai, ARISE Fashion Week reminded the world why Nigeria is a land of endless opportunities and outstanding talents. With a stunning runway and riveting music performances, the fashion event puts the spotlight on the creative sector and the youths propelling it.

Returning this year with a physical gathering at the Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the ambience was a collision of style and stardom as top fashion designers showcased pieces that celebrated the cultural heritage of Nigeria. From Kenneth Ize’s signature handwoven Aso Oke styles to Yutee Rone’s wandering dreams inspired attires, the collections demonstrated the artistic ingenuity of Nigerians.

Keeping up with tradition, musical performances from Nigerian music star D’banj and international act Akon brought the well-heeled guests to their feet, particularly D’banj who ensured that the audience enjoyed each pulsating beat of his songs.

Since the Expo officially opened in September, participating countries have been selling their country to the world through the sub themes of the Expo: ‘Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.’ For the Nigeria Pavillion, it was all about the opportunities that abound in the country with focus on the creative sector and technology.

These were reiterated by President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented at the event by Minister Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo. The president acknowledged that the creative industry is driven by youths whose ambitions demonstrates the great determination and natural talent that exists in the Nigerian polity.

He indubitably believes that the sector has the potential to become the hub for exporting Nigeria’s culture.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele echoed similar sentiments when he disclosed that “the creative industry is a very important and large industry in Nigeria today with revenue standing as close to about $4.5 billion annually, and the government is doing everything possible to support the creative sector.”

The creative sector which includes film, music, fashion and technology, according to reports currently employs more than four million people and is projected to be worth over $10 billion by the end of 2021 and has the potential to produce 2.7 million jobs by 2025.

To a large extent, ARISE Fashion Week, since its debut in 2006, has continued to put the spotlight on Nigerian fashion. From the dazzling city of Johannesburg to megacities of London, New York, Paris, ARISE Fashion Week runway not only displayed the dynamic styles of Nigerian fashion but created a platform where future stars were born. Not a few international stars have identified with the platform, notable among them, the British supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Last year’s virtual event saw the Global Chief Content Officer for Condé Nast, Anna Wintour commending ARISE Fashion Week for “bringing young design talents from Africa and beyond to the fore, showcasing their work and allowing them the chance to receive business and development support.”

Similar comments were bestowed on the organisers for always putting Nigerian fashion on the global map. In his vote of thanks, Adebayo noted that the collaboration between his ministry and THISDAY/ARISE Media Group in hosting the show is an impactful one.

“We are indeed very grateful because this has given us an opportunity to show the government’s commitment and support to the creative arts. Mr. President, mentioned in his speech that his government will continue to support our youths. Seventy per cent of the population of Nigeria today are under the age of 25. So we believe that a lot has to be done, because many of our youths are out of work and we believe that by putting the energy in the creative arts will do a lot to take them off the street and earn them a livelihood.”

As rightly pointed out by the Chairman of THISDAY/ARISE Media Group, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, ARISE Fashion Week is committed to connecting the minds and creating the future, as the theme of the Expo posits.
“Our generation will ensure that we build a Nigeria that can stand the test of time in 2050 when we become the most populous economy of the world and those building blocks you can see in the power of creativity, technology and everything else. We are determined to tell the world that the time of Nigeria is here,” he said.