Lagos…..City of dreams, land of opportunity and all the glitz and glam that one could imagine. Seriously, Lagos is paradoxically one of the most ludicrously opulent cities in the world, up there with the likes of Mumbai. And I say paradox because even amidst all the squalor and squelch that is so replete in the city, there is such abundant wealth: the rich in their beautiful clothes stand on the same rain-soaked ground as the poor with their tatters. What a dichotomy – Sims
I couldn’t have started this post any other way, I mean who doesn’t love Lagos? Okay don’t answer that; but after living in this wonderful city for about 24 years now I must say Lagos is one that inspires me and amazes me. No other city has been able to bring out the best in me like Lagos…Lagos is the reason why I write, why I am inspired and why I am sometimes baffled.
One of the things that baffles me in this Lagos is our love for names, who you are, who you know but most of all who you are wearing/carrying…Ah yes WE LOVE BRAND NAMES. Gidi girls (because the term ‘Lagos girls’ is considered derogatory) always want to talk about who they are wearing or carrying. From the international luxury brands to our very own Nigerian overpriced well-known brands, anybody who wants to be somebody which is everybody in Lagos wants to be known to carry or wear the ‘best’ even if they have to fake it. An average Gidi girl would rather carry a Grade 1 fake LV than carry an equally beautiful and better quality lower budget bag from a no named designer. If you doubt me, take a look at most of the stores around, most of them sell counterfeit handbags at ridiculous prices. Before you think I am being judgmental, let me state my disclaimer, I don’t have a problem with certain people choosing to buy counterfeit items (it’s a free world after all) I only find it funny when people buy things for the name and not the design.
A few weeks ago, I experienced two ladies have an hour-long argument on brand names, handbags and their worth. It all began when Lady A couldn’t take her eyes off Lady B’s designer handbag so she complimented it and asked where she got it from and for how much. Lady B, with a sense of pride and with a concentrated indigenous accent (I won’t mention which one), replied that she bought it from a highbrow store and it cost an equivalent for 85,000 naira which made Lady A exclaim and insist that she had been duped because she recently purchased that same handbag from an Instagram seller for about $200. Lady B feeling slighted at the unexpected response then said that Lady A had purchased the fake version of this ‘handbag’ from Instagram and Lady A was the one that had been duped. Of course Lady A wasn’t going to accept that so she said ‘it’s not possible na oyinbo babe dey sell the bag on Instagram, let me show you pictures’ which of course left me startled on how the race of a seller could determine the authenticity of a product (that’s another gist)
Eventually it led to an exchange of brand names, stories of different trips/shopping sprees and how much each of them had spent on luxury brands. Actually it sounded more like stock taking of what brands each of them owned and where they had gotten these items; of course no one could verify their individual stories but hey it was fun listening to them have such a shallow argument because not once did they mention the unique/phenomenal designs of these things they had acquired.
These ladies are simply a representation of some ladies in Lagos, I can’t count the number of times I have heard Gidi girls talk about brands and how much they spent on them or the occasional showcase of our local celebrities ‘instagramming’ empty shopping bags from certain luxury stores while on vacation in the UK, US or UAE. It’s like a disease, as long as you want to be ‘somebody’ in Lagos you must own a few brands and be able to showcase them at all times, even if you cannot afford the original then buy a fake. It doesn’t matter how the item looks, as long as it is a luxury brand then you are fine.
Personally, I am not crazy about brand names neither am I afraid to say I got a beautiful item from Primark or Ipodo market (which is in Ikeja by the way) or that my tailor charged me only 1000 naira for a fashionable iro and buba that some designer is selling for 10,000 naira. Truth is, as long as it looks good then I am happy with it, not saying that I do not buy brand names but for me it has to do with the design not the name. I am yet to understand what the obsession is with brand names especially in Lagos where things are hard and those who obsess over these names cannot afford a year’s rent.
As for the ladies in question, none of them had the original ‘designer handbag’ …in Lagos, you can always fake it till you make it.