Forget Milan, Nigeria boutiques creating Lagos fashion hub

Forget Milan, Nigeria boutiques creating Lagos fashion hub

LAGOS, Nigeria - Shoppers ready to spend lavishly on clothes by elite designers sipped champagne in a discreetly located store that only those in-the-know know exists.

Perhaps it's not an unusual scene in Manhattan or Milan, but in Lagos, sub-Saharan Africa's largest city, shops like Temple Muse are a novelty. A growing number of boutique owners and fashion designers however are working to change that.

Most of Nigeria's roughly 160 million people live in extreme poverty, but the upper class here number among the wealthiest in Africa, including those who have profited from the continent's largest oil industry.

Nigerians' sense of style is also well-known, and the country boasts several fashion designers who have made their mark internationally.

Just ask Michelle Obama, who wore a blouse by Nigeria's Maki Oh on a recent trip to South Africa.

Or take the Wadhwani brothers, who are Indian but were raised in Lagos. They saw there was a gap in the city's luxury market.

The brothers opened a store that aims to serve Nigeria's ultra-high-end shoppers who typically hop on planes to Europe when their wardrobes need an upgrade.

"I found a niche in the market," said Avinash Wadhwani, co-owner of Temple Muse boutique in the posh Victoria Island neighbourhood of Lagos.

He previously worked as a buyer for the London department store Selfridges, learning first-hand the appeal of Europe's top fashion lines. But he insisted Nigeria's rich are also seeking a local look.

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