As night falls in Lagos, thousands of twentysomethings regularly flood the city’s mega-clubs, hoping to catch a glimpse of the music stars who now dominate the download charts, the airwaves, magazine covers and social media feeds across Africa.
Part of the appeal of artists such as Wizkid, Davido, Yemi Alade and Tiwa Savage is their bold sense of style, which in most cases is instantly recognizable and widely copied — a combination the fashion industry is usually fond of.
Alongside hundreds of other up-and-coming artists, these performers are driving Africa’s music revolution, a hybrid of Nigerian and Ghanaian high life with elements of hip hop and EDM beats that is fast becoming the continent’s biggest cultural export. Among those nominated for a MOBO award in Glasgow late last year were Wizkid and Tiwa Savage, a fact that proves not only their own crossover appeal but the increasingly powerful international following of music from Africa.
Some international brands have woken up to the fact that such artists are a potential marketing goldmine. But while banks, telecom providers, and multinational brands in many other sectors are signing them up for endorsement deals in African markets — Wizkid has a deal with Pepsi and Tiwa Savage with Pampers — international fashion brands have not. Some artists appear to be natural ambassadors for the many global fashion brands trying to penetrate or expand into the continent by tapping a younger generation of upwardly mobile African consumers. So what is the fashion industry waiting for?