Mushin: Inside Nigeria’s Untapped Leather Treasure

Manufacturing

To start a raw leather business in the market, you will need nothing less than N200,000, while an amount ranging between N500,000 and 1million is required to kick-start a leather goods manufacturing business.

 

When Arinze Emmanuel finished his Junior Secondary School Examination in 1991, he left his village to stay with his uncle who owned a leather goods shop under his house in Wey Street, Mushin in Lagos.

Little did Emmanuel know that his uncle’s store on the ground floor of their apartment building where he was working as an apprentice would eventually be at the center of a big market.

After completing his apprenticeship, he didn’t think of owning his own store anywhere else but in Mushin.

Almost 30 years after he moved to Lagos from his village in the eastern part of Nigeria, he is making a living for himself and his family from the proceeds of his shop.

Emmanuel’s story is similar to most of the leather merchants in Mushin. Gradually, the market which started from two to four shops in front of residential houses on Wey Street has spread across five more streets in the neighborhood once noted for its notoriety.

Bags, shoes and Belts

“Since 1972, the Igbos have been selling leather materials used in making bags, shoes, and belts here (in Mushin),” the Baale Oke-Mushin, Chief Tajudeen Lasisi Faronbi told The Guardian.

“The market started with about five people on Wey-street and today it has expanded to Maxwell, Dakobiri, a part of Ladipo, and a part of Atewolara.”

The Mushin Market is divided into sections, dealing in various items from foodstuff to furniture, stationery and, most especially leather products, but it remains home to many residents.

“This place was a residential area before, but it was when the Igbos (Nigerians of eastern extraction) came that it expanded and they turned it into a market,” Faronbi said.

“The place that was marked for the market by the government assigned was the Mushin foodstuff market.”

Largest Leather Markets in Nigeria

The leather goods section of the market hosts at least, 300 shops selling different kinds of materials needed in the manufacturing of shoes, bags, furniture and other leather products.

It is one of the largest leather goods markets in Nigeria, only smaller in size to those in Aba, Kano and Onitsha.

In this densely populated business hub in Lagos, you can get different types of raw leather such as animal skin leather, faceless leather, suede leather, and so many more. The possibility of finding a made in Nigeria pass-off luxury leather item is also very high.

As untidy as the environment looks, different brands of counterfeit designer items are produced from this leather goods market daily. That is why you shouldn’t be surprised if you find out that your Louis Vuitton, Gucci, or Versace shoes, bags, belts, or any of those luxury leather items you cherish, might have been manufactured somewhere in Mushin.

A shoemaker in the market, Jimoh Remilekun, said he and others recreate any notable brand of shoes or bags. He also said these leather products vary in prices depending on their quality.

Remilekun said apart from selling them in markets in Nigeria, they also export these leather products to other countries like Ghana, Benin, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, and others.

Recreates International Brands

“When designers in Spain and Italy release new designs that they call Maserati, Mauri, Cerruti and Gucci, when we see them online, we will recreate and rebrand them too,” Remilekun said.

“But some people can recreate them and rebrand them with their own names. Customers also bring the designs they want us to recreate.”

To start a raw leather business in the market, you will need nothing less than N200,000, while an amount ranging between N500,000 and 1million is required to kick-start a leather goods manufacturing business.

 

Culled from Guardian Nigeria

1 thought on “Mushin: Inside Nigeria’s Untapped Leather Treasure

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