So last week Ndani, Guaranty Trust Bank’s entertainment vehicle secretly feted a good number of Nigerian fashion and lifestyle influencers at swanky restaurant RSVP Lagos. They invited them to share ideas and talk about GTB’s newest baby, the GTB Fashion Weekend. After a slew of Instagram updates post event and a sudden but aggressive media campaign, we suddenly have a new fashion extravaganza to look forward to, on the heels of LFDW.
So what is the GTB Fashion weekend anyways, and why does it matter?
For two years, GTB actually was the headlining sponsor for the Lagos Fashion and Design Week and helped bring to the event 21st century tech with a massive media campaign and exclusive video content. Through streaming and youtube videos, LFDW became accessible to fashion lovers across the continent. Their partnership ended and Heineken took over as head sponsor, changing the focus of the showcase and the audience it reached.
But its partnership with LFDW was not entirely altruistic. GTB was trying to attract small and medium scale fashion and fashion adjacent industries to its new cashless business platforms, especially the SME Market Hub. By positioning itself as fashion’s biggest player it drew many high profile brands to itself and grew its hub by leaps and bounds. The end of their partnership with LFDW saw a significant decline in the attention their fashion platforms garnered online and their business model must have suffered as a result.
So the GTB Fashion Weekend is Guaranty Trust Bank and Ndani’s comeback, and their gauntlet for the apex of Nigerian fashion influencers and movers. It is styling itself after the show format of international fashion weeks, with seminars, runway shows and business presentations; making its focus on the business end of things in a way the other fashion event platforms cannot quite manage (because access to the financial instruments of a global bank) and placing itself front and center by hosting and running every aspect of the fashion weekend. It is also hosting the event in November, which places it, not LFDW as the final high profile fashion event of the year.
You have to admit announcing their dates just after LFDW announced theirs reads as shady.
So what does this mean for Nigerian fashion?
A lot actually.
With one more platform on ground, Nigerian designers win. Provided GTB doesnt fall to the Nepotism that LFDW has fought so hard to expunge from the industry with its unallied showcase calendar. The more platforms we have for Nigerian designers to showcase, the more international attention we can bring to our cause. We also need the much needed work opportunities this will provide.
As far as we can see, LFDW’s niche as the foremost showcase platform for designers will remain unharmed because of the pedigree of the alumni of the showcase and the success of past and current cycles. This actually is an opportunity for GTB to grant niche designers an audience and not use the wildly successful LFDW mold everyone else keeps aping.
RETAIL! RETAIL!! RETAIL!!!
Thats all we really want to see from the GTB Fashion Weekend; presentations, retail options, cashless transactions. This is a rare opportunity for the Nigerian fashion industry to see numbers and follow the money, and GTB has the structure to provide this for us. It after all, has all the financial framework and tools of a global bank at its disposal.
The sky is big enough for everyone, play nice y’all.