As the Nigerian fashion Industry grows and entrepreneurship among youths expands we have been blessed with a number of people who make beautiful attires. By the virtue of my writing abilities, a number of youths I know have approached me for brand names. Recently, another approached me and stated she didn’t want Fashion Designer or Couture in her brand name and it got me thinking about the common misuse of these words in the Nigerian context. 

In Nigeria we mostly refer to those with the skills to make clothes and attires as Fashion Designers, sometimes such people also name their brands “couture”. The term Fashion designer is the “polished” replacement that we have given the word tailor in recent times.

Now, who is a tailor? A tailor is that person who looks at an already made design, takes your measurements and replicates the design to suit your body and taste. A tailor could also make alterations to the design to suit a client’s request. Sometimes, a tailor is saddled with the task of making an already made cloth fit a client better.

A fashion designer on the other hand is an artist who takes time to combine materials, colours, ideas, and trends to create unique pieces. Depending on how big a designer is, he/she does the tailoring of the design or hire a tailor to do the sewing. Another peculiar thing fashion designers do is make custom designs for clients, this is called Haute Couture. Couture is another word we tend to misuse. 

Haute couture is usually very expensive and the clients are the upper well-to-do class including Celebrities in this modern age. Apart from haute couture, there is Prêt-à-Porter (ready-to-wear) fashion designing for the averagely well–to-do class, where custom designs are produced in limited quantity and the Mass Market Fashion designing for the general public. 

Although these terms have distinct definitions and roles attached, a single person could be referred to as more than one of these terms, a Fashion designer could be a tailor and a tailor could own a Haute Couture outlet.

Now that you know the right words to use, is your tailor a Fashion Designer?

This article was written by Firdaws Badmus; connect with her on IG here  

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