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Nigerian Models Aim For Lucrative Deals Abroad

posted 1 Nov 2013, 17:53 by Mpelembe   [ updated 1 Nov 2013, 17:54 ]

For many Nigerian girls, making it in the modeling industry is everything. Models take part in local pageants as a platform to grow their modeling skills in the hopes of landing international contracts. But with Nigeria's local fashion industry facing challenges of sponsorship and disorganisation, many aim to go straight to international catwalks.

LAGOSNIGERIA  (REUTERS) - The 2013 edition of Nigeria's Elite Model Look competition in Lagos saw the country's fashion lovers and professionals come out to select the latest top modeling talent.

Nigeria's budding fashion industry is looking to promote local talent through local and international beauty pageants like this one.

Eighteen-year-old Nneoma Anosike, emerged as this year's winner, and will represent the country at the international event in 2014.

"I think this will help me in a lot of ways, it will help me in my modeling career, it will take me places, it will take me internationally and... yeah, I just feel it will get me better," said Anosike.

But marketing and selling models as a brand in Nigeria remains a challenge according to former beauty queen turned agent, Joan Okorodudu.

Finding lucrative deals and constant work is difficult for models around the world, but she says in Nigeria its even tougher, forcing many young talents to chase careers abroad.

Okorodudu is trying to spearhead a drive to keep Nigerian talent at home.

She says the country has a great potential to grow a robust fashion industry that can create jobs and earn revenue for the country.

"Fashion is big, and I'm not saying you know I'm not saying neglect all the other places but fashion is bigger than any other thing that they are concentrating on right now because fashion can bring so much money to the Nigerian economy. For example you go to Nepal, you go to India now, everybody is sewing, sending toAmerica, everywhere, China, we can do it here," she said.

Aspiring model, Ademoye Misturah is working to get noticed by a modeling scout.

Like many in Nigeria, she wants to follow in the footsteps of famous international model, Oluchi Onweagba who was discovered by the pan-African modeling competition, 'M-Net Face of Africa' in 1998.

Misturah's one year stint as a model has been challenging and has seen her working as an usher at events and doing promotional modeling to build her portfolio.

Her family helps her pack before she leaves home for a training camp ahead of the Miss Olokun 2013 pageant.

"It's my first pageant so I shouldn't really raise my expectations, so my mindset now is to just get there and learn and be able to achieve some other things that can help me go in for other pageants," said Misturah.

While at camp models are trained by professionals in various skills ranging from catwalking, poise, confidence, traditional dance, presentation and culture.

Olusola Owolabi, a fashion producer who has been in the industry for 10 years says pageants provide a rare chance for models to work on themselves and understand the profession better before taking part in competitions.

"Pageants like these are platforms to discover new talents, okay, because without pageants like these some of them cannot afford to pay a groomer, a groomer takes so much and then you need to be groomed and be ready before the agencies would want to take you because they want money, they want to do business and make money. So when there are pageants like this, you have the opportunity to be groomed," said Owolabi.

Backstage, some participants get ready for the competition, the event forms part of the annual Olokun festival and hopes to promote professionalism in modeling.

Lagos is growing into a major fashion hub with designers building unique looks and original clothing lines that need to be marketed locally and internationally.

Analysts say the country's fashion industry is already getting noticed abroad but still faces challenges like funding and training which will need to be addressed if models and designers are to develop the profession further.