While Nigerians on social media display the price tags of their latest fashion bought from high-end stores and argue about celebrity flaunting with fake designer items, there are those content to get their clothes from the popular bend-down-select markets.
Bend-down-select is a popular term in Nigeria for a market where you can go to buy clothes and other fashion pieces at very cheap rates. Some of these clothes are fairly used, others are brand new clothes made in Nigeria, popularly called Aba made.
Students, workers, business men and women are among those who patronize these kinds of market and they claim that the clothes sold are of good quality and can compete with expensive designer outfits sold in boutiques.
This is no surprise seeing as most of the clothes sold in bend-down-select markets are quality clothes donated to charity by those in the western world which are then brought into Nigeria to be sold.
Clothes sold in these markets come in grades. The first grade clothes are usually of higher quality, followed by the second grade, down to the lowest grade. One can get clothes for as cheap as N10 in the lowest grade.
In Lagos, some of the most popular bend-down-select markets are Aswani market in Isolo and Katangakowa market in Alimosho and many other bus stops in the nights. These markets have their market days on which they open bail (newer stock) and they are known to enjoy massive patronage with the buyers jostling for space in the regularly crowded market.
Despite having impressive patronage, it is rare to hear anyone let on that they shop at bend-down-select markets. Most prefer to be silent about it. Some go as far as pretending their bend-down-select bought clothes were purchased from expensive boutiques.
There is a feeling of supremacy attributed to shopping from boutiques.
Ironically, most boutique owners get their stock from bend-down-select markets, repackage them and sell at exorbitant prices.
“They usually come very early, as early as six a.m., on market days, as soon as the bail is opened to select the better, first grade items at very low prices. When they get back they will dry-clean, perfume and hang them and people will be buying, sometimes ten times higher than the price we sold to them here.” Chinedu, a trader in Aswani market said.
These bend-down-select markets are not new. They have been in existence for decades. However, with the recent economic situation and the prices of imported clothes rising due to the declining rate of Naira, more Nigerians are beginning to rely on bend-down-select market to stay fashionable on a budget.