GTBank Fashion Weekend is a two day, consumer-focused event taking place on the 12th and 13th of November at the GT centre, Oniru estate in Victoria Island, Lagos. Retail exhibitions begin at 10 am, and from 12 noon registered attendees can listen to business presentations by fashion industry experts like fashion buyer, Abiola Bijou, and CEO of Zaron Cosmetics, Oke Maduewesi. Those wishing to catch the runway shows have to wait until 7 pm.
With little to do this Sunday, my sister and I thought it was a great idea to check out the featured retailers. Little did we know we were preparing for an afternoon of disappointment.
First off, finding the location was no easy task. We drove in circles, asking different people for directions until by a taxi driver rightly directed us to the venue.
A long queue of cars had formed from the gate of the GTBank centre to the road. After a brief wait, a security man directed us to a roadside park next to the road as the centre’s parking lot was full. My enthusiasm wilted a little, seeing the distance I had to walk in five-inch, strappy sandals and the sandy/concrete ground that would support my feet. Did I mention the sun was out in full glare in celebration of its day?
Saying a short prayer, I exited the car hoping the ground spares my heels. Cautiously, I made my way from the sandy car park to the tarred road. The walk was short, but in thin heels it was uncomfortable. On the courtyard, a few feet to the right of the centre, was a cluster of tents shielding vendors and their wares from the sun. I made a mental note to check them out after browsing the exhibitions inside.
The reprieve from the overzealous sun dissipated minutes after I entered the hall. The air-conditioners were either not working or were performing below optimum level. According to one of the vendors, the air-conditioners had malfunctioned the day before as well. At every booth and corner, people waved themselves with little orange and white fans—GTBank’s colours—to stave off the heat.
I zig-zagged through the labyrinth of stalls and people, casually glancing at each exhibition, the majority of which were underwhelming. Much to my dismay, some vendors were showcasing foreign brands. What were Nine West shoes doing at a fashion fair ostensibly promoting African fashion products? If I wanted to buy Nine West, I’ll go online or to the mall, thank you very much.
The handbags made with Africa print fabric looked mediocre from afar and inferior up-close. The clothes, too, lacked pizzazz. Oh and the heat, the heat started to chafe so much so that we didn’t even bother climbing up the stairs to the first floor to take a look. Instead, we make a beeline for the exit and into the scorching sun.
Less than thirty minutes after we arrived, I was back inside the car, and yes, with a scraped heel—barely noticeable but noticeable enough to me. My sister and I rued the time (and fuel) we’d wasted on such an unsatisfying outing.
One thing’s for sure: I shan’t be attending the second GT Fashion Weekend event whenever that is, unless they properly select and organise vendors, showcase exceptional products, fix their air-conditioners and perhaps move the venue to a location with ample parking space close by that is tarred.
GT Fashion Weekend ends today. The event is free.