We've been sitting on this secret for a while frantically trying to make it all come together, so its with excitement and relief that we're excited to announce that Styled By Africa is finally on it's way to Lagos, Nigeria for the Lagos edition of Social Media Week as UK blogger ambassadors for Arik Air. It's the third ever #SMWLagos and our twitter feed and Instagram are already buzzing with excitement at the jam packed schedule. No where else will you find a forum, a free one at that, that brings together the top leaders in government, business, fashion, music, media and entertainment to discuss how technology is disrupting and revolutionising their industries. Only one other African capital- Johannesburg- is a host of the global Social Media Week so the Lagos edition is not just about what's happening in Nigeria but across the region. At the same time, Social Media Week will also be taking place in New York, Milan, Jakarta, Hamburg, Bangalore and Copenhagen but our money is on Lagos coming out top. Why? Let us count the ways.
10 reasons why #SMWLAGOS is the one that matters
1. The Fashion
To Nigerians style is an art that is to be taken very seriously so whether it's an exclusive party or just picking up groceries they dress with purposeful flair. SMW Lagos is going to be a street style goldmine, especially with the who's who of the Lagos fashion scene on hand to make sure of it. Fashion designer Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, PR genius behind luxury powerhouse brand Lisa Folawiyo (previously Jewel By Lisa), the Nigerian brand manager for Hugo Boss, Lacoste, and Nigerian fashion and style starlet Eku Edewor are all on the speaker line up to give their insider takes on African fashion. Thursday's Rebranding Africa Style Summit is set to be a highlight on our #SMWLagos schedule and an interesting discussion on what African luxury means, if it exists and how it compares to international brands. The panelists will also address the controversial ‘African brands are inferior’ mindset and what we can do, if anything, to change that. How homegrown brands are raising standards and garnering international recognition through social media and the huge part it's playing in promoting Brand Africa in fashion.
2. The Networking
Lagos is vast and the traffic dense which makes flitting around the city for meetings a challenge, so it's the smart people at #SMWLagos that we should thank for making our job so much easier and bringing together some of Nigeria's best movers and shakers under one roof for us to meet all at once. Between the impressive 238 strong speaker line up and over 1000+ registered attendees, we're pretty sure some magical ideas are about to be born over the course of next week.
3. Battle of the Brands
Nigeria is a key emerging market for any company-local or global- that is expanding in Africa right now and competition is hotting up between some of the world's biggest brands to win over the African consumer. Now is the chance to get up close and personal with their leadership and find out what trends they are banking on. On Tuesday, Facebook want you to inspire, advocate, lead and drive social change using Facebook services. Hear directly from Arik Air's senior management team about their regional expansion strategy championing seamless connectivity in West & Central Africa. On Thursday, Oando want you to help Nigerian oil & gas companies embrace social media and its benefits. Pitch your digital marketing ideas to leaders in the oil & gas sector and you could win the opportunity to implement them at Oando PLC, while United Bank Africa will be in house talking about social media banking.
4. Insider Secrets
Want to know how to build a blog like Linda Ikeji, Instagram like Naija pop star Banky W, build an app that Russell Simmons used in his latest fashion show, the digital marketing secrets of Roc Nation, or how to partner with brands like Etisalat? Masterclasses, one on one workshops, mentoring- sign us up for everything!
5. Social media, social change?
On the cusp of change with elections just a month away one main theme of the conversation focuses on citizenship, government and technology. In light of the recent #BringBackOurGirls campaign, the upcoming elections and the Je Suis Charlie/Nigeria backlash- a selection of panels have been curated discussing the ethics of social media in the 2015 election campaign, how technology can play a role in ensuring free and fair elections and a keynote from the Minister of Communication Technology. Follow the conversation on #SMWCitizens.
Tourism has been priority marked by most African governments as key industries for investment, recognising the impact it can have on development, employment and nation branding. Tuesday's #SMWTravelAfrica day is likely to be our best day as we live to travel, and use the travel section of Styled By Africa to showcase the immense beauty that can be found in Africa beyond the same old safaris. Since starting SBA we've travelled to Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Gabon and Ghana so when readers tell us that they'd never thought to go on holiday to Ghana before they read our latest post, we consider that job done. That's why partnering with Arik Air on this trip made so much sense as they are a homegrown African brand connecting travellers like us from London or New York not just to Lagos and Abuja but across the country to states like Port Harcourt or Kano, or hotspots in the region such as Abidjan, Douala, Dakar or Luanda. You only have to look at Instagram accounts like Travel Noire or the #TravelAfrica hashtag to see the huge role that social media is playing in encouraging tourism to Africa so we can't wait to dig deeper into these new trends. Social media is also making us as Africans more aware of all there is to see in the continent outside our home countries, and sometimes within, and our hope is that next time you're planning a holiday or an adventure you're as likely to think of Addis or Maputo as you are Paris or Dubai.
7. Exploring Lagos
Speaking of traveling, besides the content of SMW it's Lagos city itself that makes this one of the most exciting host cities. Lagos has the buzz of a regional creative hub for fashion, film, music and media and is home to some of the continent's biggest stars. Friday's #SMWLagosExplore events encourage attendees to get local and explore the tech and creative communities in Lagos where some of the most innovative companies will be hosting off campus experiences in tech hubs and cultural centres. There's no better way to see a city than through the eyes of it's locals so our Lagos travel bucketlist is ready to go.
8. Furniture on Fleek
One thing we know none of the Social Media Week cities will have is an interior as cool as the one our good friend and furniture fiend Yinka Ilori is creating in collaboration with SMWLagos to add some Naija flair to the interiors. From the looks of his Instagram sneak peeks, we can't wait to put bum to seat on his upcycled creations.
9. The Nightlife
Here at SBA we have a policy on our travel trips- we sleep when we get back to London and this time when the day ends #SMWLagosNites begins! When we went to Accra we covered about 75% of the nightlife scene in ten days, a testament to our stamina, and we fully intend for this Lagos trip to go the same way. The SMWLagos team have hand picked restaurateurs, cultural curators, style experts, and music aficionados to give us a taste of entertainment Lagos style. We've heard mythical tales about Lagos nightlife, so follow our antics on our Instagram and Twitter pages to see if it's living up to the hype.
10. The Hustle
The energy of the city hits you as soon as you enter the arrivals hall in the airport. All we have to say is, no one hustles like a Nigerian so we're here to learn from the pros.
For the next week we'll be bringing you all the insider info from SMWLagos and all the travel trips we pick up along the way in the city. If you're spontaneous of spirit, it's not too late to join us in Lagos and Arik have amazing winter deals on flights from London to Lagos right now. Make sure you're signed up to their Affinity Wings air miles program too as there will be 3000 bonus points up for grabs every day of SMWLagos plus domestic and international return tickets which you don't want to miss. Follow their Facebook and Instagram pages for more info, and if you're coming along to SMWLagos too, come and say hi!
Written by Kiran Yoliswa, Co-Founder Styled By Africa