Will the real mass market retail brands please stand up?

If you asked around, you would find that one of the most visible fashion brands in Nigeria today is mass market retail brand Eve and Tribe.

Labels matter.

There really isn’t nothing wrong with being a mass market retail brand that sells basic wardrobe staples. There is a market for it and a huge demand too. Which in some ways is what Eve and Tribe has done. Headed by Simone Bartlett, Eve And Tribe has tapped into the niche for affordable accessible fashion staples removed from a seasonal cycle or fashion trends. In Nigeria where every boutique brand is quick to call itself a luxury ‘niche’ brand with a lofty design statement, Eve and Tribe’s unapologetic commercialism is refreshing.

But with tailoring this world class and materials that actually stand the test of time, many have wondered if Eve and tribe is either unaware of the true value of the clothes they produce or are running a loosely guarded vanity project. The answer is neither. The label has addressed these concerns severally, quipping in one interview:

“Yes…we know we can sell our stuff for far more, BUT we simply choose not to. We want to be to the Nigerian woman, what Zara was to the Spanish woman; value-for-money high-fashion that you feel and look good wearing, because it was designed with you (and your hips – curves) in mind.”

The Eve and Tribe business model is interesting for several reasons. Freed from the international fashion calendar and the limitations of having to invest in two major collections each year, Eve and Tribe can ‘test’ the market with designs and immediately pull out designs that perform badly with the final buyer. They can also try out new designs at any point during the year as new arrivals come in and also increase production when a product proves profitable. That coupled with their two pronged strategy of a vibrant multi-platform online presence (their own online store and a concession deal with Jumia) and a physical store in Ikoyi alongside two stocking deals with Zazaii and the concept store Meidei, Eve and Tribe can actually enjoy the design and production process and reach their target market without the fuss of being a ‘high fashion label’.

So where then are Nigeria’s mass market labels? Why are they hiding under the luxury label tag, alienating their potential client base for staid recognition and token features in niche magazines? We need them to stand up, and fix up.

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