The Nigerian leather industry contributes at least N85billion annually to the country’s GDP and is our second top foreign exchange earner. 25,000 people (excluding ad-hoc workers) are directly employed in the industry and production figures continue to soar with ever increasing demands from international companies for Nigerian leather. Unfortunately, this growth is not reflected in the Nigerian fashion industry. Accessories, shoe and other Nigerian designers who make use of leather complain about the inaccessibility of tanneries, fixing of leather prices to favour international bulk buyers over local buyers and so on.
We caught up with Uche Egele, creative director of leather goods company Marté Egele, for a discussion about the Nigerian leather industry. In it, we discuss finding hidden tanneries, challenges faced by local wholesalers in procuring leather and more.
Our discussion begins with where to go in search for leather in Nigeria.
Kano, the largest city in Northern Nigeria, is known as the historical centre for leather tanning. One trip there and any leather seeker can find what they are looking for regardless of type, size and quantity. European and other foreign leather goods producers travel to Nigeria to buy our leather which they make use of when manufacturing their goods. Such goods include suede clothing, patent footwear or accessories. One of Kano’s last surviving tanneries named God’s Little Tannery was profiled by the UK Telegraph in which it was said to be a leather supplier for Louis Vuitton (they had no comment on this).