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LAGOS High Street.

Summary: Despite the scarcity of world-standard shopping malls, retail is big business in Lagos and savvy entrepreneurs are creating their own retail havens for the Lagosian shoppers who are ever more curious for new and unique shopping experiences. Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo welcomes you to the Lagos High Street, where you can shop till you drop.

TEMPLE MUSE

temple-muse.com

Behind the brand: The iconic flagship store, located in the heart of Lagos, possesses an inspirational, gallery-like open feel where clients can escape and indulge in all things wonderful.

The Temple Muse philosophy is to offer a carefully selected mix of world-renowned products together with new, upcoming and exciting brands in fashion and accessories, home and gifts, as well as art and design. In addition, the brand strongly believes in nurturing and promoting homegrown talent by showcasing a number of top African designers and artisans under its roof.

Brand ethos: Bringing international luxury brands to local consumers and providing a much-needed platform for local designers.

The USP: A luxury lifestyle and a tailor-made experience for each customer as soon as they walk through the doors.

Biggest fans: Temple Muse boasts a number of celebrities such as Asa, Eku Edewor and D'banj who frequent the store regularly, as well as reputable socialites and esteemed clientele.

Current bestsellers: Givenchy, Ere Dappa and Lisa Folawiyo are often bestsellers. Also popular are the contemporary brands sourced from all over the world to offer variety to an over-saturated market. Currently proving popular are the Los Angeles based brand Clover Canyon and local brand Ituen Basi.

Most exciting items: There are always exciting gifts throughout the year but Temple Muse likes going that extra mile at Christmas. The yearly Christmas shopis now open, with a variety of fabulous gifts, such as an outrageous Michael Aram gold-plated dog bowl for the absolute dog lover and beautiful raw cut diamond earrings from Amrapali for that special someone.

Regular events: Temple Muse is known for constantly hosting events in-store such as brand pop-ups, launch parties, fashion week events and interactive talks, as well as quarterly art exhibitions featuring upcoming and established local artists carefully put together by curator Sandra Mbanefo Obiago.

The annual Christmas shop opening party where a famous local star serenades shoppers with Christmas songs often marks the start of the party season in Lagos for Temple Muse clientele.

Plans for 2016: To do it all over again and do it better -- more brands, more experiences, more Temple Muse.

ZAZAII

zazaii.com

Behind the brand: Isoken Ogiemwonyi studied law, luxury hospitality and business management at different points in her life before setting her sights on retail. Following a co-venture with the very successful Le Petit Marche followed by retail store L'Espace, she decided to go it alone in 2015 with her new venture Zazaii. "I love to learn and it's informed my disparate but interconnected career and interests and keeps my life exciting!" she says.

Brand ethos: The theatre of retail -- Ogiemwonyi believes that shopping is, at its heart, entertainment, and that paired with great, responsive customer service, one has a winning combination! The plan with Zazaii is to scale it so that she can offer a 360-degree affair -- not unlike its predecessor, L'Espace, but with a more contemporary feel.

The USP: Zazaii's point of differentiation is in how well they communicate with the consumer -- womenswear is driven by trends and novelty, and the brand knows social media is extremely important in driving and communicating that. Content and commerce have always been Ogiemwonyi's obsession and she believes it's the future of fashion.

Biggest fans: The store boasts amazing clientele, and in terms of high profile clientele, there are Tara FelaDurotoye, Toke Makinwa, Vimbai Mutinhri and current campaign stars Damilola and Chris Attoh, to name a few. Zazaii also attracts a growing diaspora audience.

Current bestsellers: Kamokini and Andrea Iyamah Swimwear. "They're on sale -- Nigerians love a bargain!" Ogiemwonyi explains.

Most exciting items: Dzyn and TNL for daytime drama, Nuraniiya and the Muse Factory for high octane evening wear, LLB, Literati, VFRF and Sanusi for urban athleisure, Ethnik by Tunde Owolabi for the most amazing handmade footwear, Adey Soile for work and Ariaba for traditional accessories, Le Reve for everyday jewellery and Raya for statement event jewellery, not to forget Ogiemwonyi's new collection, Obsidian handbags.

Regular events: Launched only a few weeks ago, Zazaii is currently in the process of putting together an events calendar and the aim is to have a monthly pop-up event and a music programme in 2016.

Plans for 2016: Growth -- more brands, new categories and more highoctane events. Ogiemwonyi also has a great personal relationship with the LFDWFounder Omoyemi Akerele which saw Zazaii participate in the LFDWXRetail initiative -- a partnership designed to further position retail as a primary tool that contributes to the growth and expansion of the industry. The two brands are exploring new ways to work in the new year and beyond.

ZINKATA

zinkata.com

Behind the brand: Retail was a natural progression for former magazine editor turned fashion consultant Ezinne Chinkata who founded the brand in 2014. She describes it as a multi-faceted company comprising a website, fashion consultancy services, and a store, with specially curated pieces from around the world. You are likely to find Nigerian and international brands, while an in-house style consultant offers guidance.

Brand ethos: One word: empowerment. "Fashion is a very powerful tool. If properly harnessed, it can aid in inspiring and empowering minds, as well as emancipating us from self and public imposed barriers," offers Chinkata.

The USP: Brand authenticity.

Biggest fans: An evergrowing community built via the website and social media, which Chinkata calls "a big interactive hub".

Current bestseller: Bespoke pieces by Nigerian brands.

Most exciting items: Smart casual pieces with vibrant colours are doing well.

Regular events: Interactive sales events, shopping parties and press and bloggers days to introduce new brands.

Plans for 2016: Offering expert solutions to customers' needs and creating a more pleasurable shopping experience, while keeping them inspired via the website.

GREY VELVET

greyvelvetstores.com

Behind the brand: Isioma Onochie-Aihie sums herself up as "a happy hermit, jack-of-most-trades and master of many, entrepreneur mum of four biological (and several Grey Velvet) children."

Brand ethos: To create and promote Nigerian and African fashion and lifestyle brands in Nigeria, with a view to expanding into the rest of Africa, Europe and America. There's a plethora of talent which is suffocated by economic and infrastructural deficiencies. As these have somewhat been overcome in the past few years, they now have the means through which they can showcase their talent and be commercially successful. Grey Velvet is excited to support these talents.

The USP: Grey Velvet is the only retail chain in Nigeria which stocks only African brands -- the designers and brand owners are of African descent and the products are for the most part conceived and produced in Africa.

Biggest fans: The everyday fashionconscious ladies. The average Nigerian woman had never really liked the idea of "Made in Nigeria", as for the most part, they had their loyalties tied to international brands that they believed were much better on every level. But now that Nigerian brands have improved the quality of their products and there's more awareness, with wider social media reach, there is more appreciation. Grey Velvet is where they have access to their favourite designers of affordable luxury pieces, all under one roof! The clientele is quite varied, from HNIs to university students, and celebrities who include Stephanie Okereke, Fade Ogunro, Stephanie Coker, amongst others.

Current bestseller: The Mara jumpsuit by in-house label Frankie and Co., the Cora top and pants by Ejiro Amos Tafiri, the gorgeous Ankara embellished pieces by Odeva and the Madonna series by the other in-house label, Isi Brown.

Most exciting items: There are new exciting items every season. For instance, Kiki Kamanu proved a hit with hooded dresses with the text "I Love Lagos" on them, which she then recreated with the names of the other major cities on them. They were comfortable, trendy and fabulous.

Grey Velvet also offers the cutest box bags by DOT and Mak Nisy, and the latest addition to the collection are the swoonworthy Okiki Marinho bags.

Plans for 2016: Expansion -- with a couple more stores in Nigeria before branching out into major countries in Africa. Grey Velvet also has its sights set on the US and Europe. They are also improving the current online store and working on improving in-house label, Frankie and Co. into a full-blown brand of its own. There will also be work sessions/seminars for upcoming designers to help them develop their talents and brands.

POOSH LAGOS

15 Ologun Agbaje St, Victoria Island, Lagos +234 7016676674

Behind the brand: Poosh started 10 years ago through small home exhibitions. As client loyalty grew, the owners realised that there was a niche market in Lagos for Indo-Western clothes and felt that it was time for a store.

In a bid to include men, Poosh teamed up with the talented Avinash Punjabi to start up the Bespoke Tailoring Showroom.

Brand ethos: A familyrun business that offers luxurious, high quality items for every member of the family.

The USP: The best of India and Nigeria in an exclusive range of items for women, men and kids.

Biggest fans: Poosh Lagos enjoys celebrity attention but director Shamina Changrani is discrete about names.

Current bestseller: Separates by Tarun Tahiliani, an Indian designer incorporating Indian drapery with modern silhouettes.

Most exciting items: A fan of her traditional yet modern silhouettes, Changrani is excited to have Tiffany Amber Culture exclusively at Poosh.

Regular events: There are events every few months introducing new designers or collections -- from wine tastings and pop-ups to cocktails and canapes!

Plans for 2016: "Be ready to see new designers, new items and something for everyone!" Changrani teases.

And others: Alara, Modan, Polo Luxury, Stranger Lagos

Temple Muse provides a muchneeded platform for local designers and artisans.

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Publication:New African Woman
Date:Jan 12, 2016
Words:1668
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