Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.


July 12th, 2018

Style in Lagos – An Introduction

We love to feature writers researchers and bloggers on our site and to have them contributing their fashion experience in Africa. It is a pleasure to have researcher and Style Anthropologist Carmen Hogg of Carmenpolitan blog to share her take on style spotted on her recent research trip to Lagos. Read on to see what she found out whilst there.

Style in Lagos is where it’s happening

For over 10 years Lagos was on my list of must visit destinations. There is something about the style of the people in that city that I just wanted to experience in real life.

“Why Lagos” people keep asking me. I grew up in a European village where one doesn’t stand out style-wise, blending in is the norm. People don’t wear bold colours or prints and style items like jewellery or head gear is kept to a minimum. We don’t wear (or even have) cultural style items. Practicality in style is what matters and it comes before anything else. When shopping we go to curated stores and select what is been selected for us. If we follow trends, we follow the ones that are set by the leaders in the industry. Lagos is, to me, the exact opposite. It represents pride, rich cultural items, celebration of the self, energy, expressiveness and boldness. This is what I see in the style of Lagosians.

In Lagos styling oneself asks for a lot of creativity because there is no high street with shops that sell affordable clothing for all. One has to search for affordable and unique style items. To me, Lagosians are trend SETTERS. They don’t follow trends.

So what I do is to research style in relation to identity and culture.

Let me set the scene

Lagos hosts more than 21 million people. Lagos is situated on the coast next to the sea and is originally a Yoruba dominated city, but due to the migration of people the city now hosts people from all over, including many non-Nigerians. Many Lagosians are ballin’ on a budget, and have to rely on the second-hand, heavily used or mint condition, imported goods from Europe and the States for their daily style fix. But there is a large upperclass who flies to London to shop.

Weddings happen almost every weekend and are known for the serious dress up. Women wear lace (often Swiss or Austrian) and Ankara (waxprint textile) gowns with complicated Gele’s and men can be seen to wear Agbada’s (traditionals) with cultural items.

Lagos has a flourishing fashion industry and many interesting brands that are selling in beautiful shops like Alara or Stranger, mainly located on the Islands (the richer parts of Lagos). In Lagos there are well-known international fashion weeks like the Arise Fashion Week –where Naomi Campbell was spotted this March- and Lagos Fashion Week, which is in October every year a big thing.

Lagos is HUGE

Lagos is diverse.

Lagos is inspiring.


Spotted style items in Lagos

That saying, Lagos is too diverse and complex to say that there is a specific style. In my research I came across items that mark the style in the city.

Note: In this part of my research I looked mainly at trends on those who have the means to focus on style and can afford different items. I know that a majority of the Lagosians are bound to the second hand items that are sold on the market and have to style themselves every day from those carefully selected items.

Cultural items

Whether it’s the red Igbo cap, the coral beads or Isi Agu, Lagosians flaunt their cultural background with pride. At weddings and other festive events they may dress up fully in their cultural gear, on the streets or when going out they do mix and match items of their culture with the more Western items. The rich cultures provide a wide array of items that people incorporate in their daily style.

Second hand thrifted items

Thrifting is a thing. Whether you after a unique catch for fun or whether it’s a necessity because you actually need a new item- Lagosians thrift and find amazing items that they combine with other style items.


Nigerian brands

The one thing that I love about Lagosians is the support they have for their own people. They wear and support each other’s business when they can. Ranging from brands Orange Culture, IamIsigo, Waffles ‘n’ Cream, Post Imperial, Maxivive to Maki Oh.


Mix & Match

What really marks style in Lagos is the ability to mix and match. This is where the agency and the style comes in. The way of combining all these different items, brands, exclusive and cheaper items mark the street style in Lagos to me.

Above – Designer Bubu Ogisi of IamSigo photo by Carmenpolitan

If you enjoyed this snippet of Lagos style then you can read more about Carmen Hogg’s blog Carmenpolitan as she ventures to other cities and countries in Africa.

Main image of Eddie Okolo by Carmenpolitan

Article written by Carmen Hogg – Carmenpolitan



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