The Lowdown Hub

Nigerian fashion label Tiffany Amber swaps couture for PPE and the colorful garments of the Tiffany

The push for PPE

Days, things look a little different when Folake Akindele Coker gets to her office. "I arrive at 9 am, all geared (up) for this invisible enemy, she says. The 45-year-old designer and founder of Nigerian fashion label Tiffany Amber now start each day with a 10-minute safety talk for her production team, "who at first did not seem to understand the gravity and the potential of being infected by the (Covid-19) virus."

Coker founded Tiffany Amber in 1998, and it's now considered one of Nigeria's most influential fashion and lifestyle brands.

In early March, the number of colorful prints and couture runway garments that normally littered the factory floor dissipated, and the company's sewing machines began stitching hospital scrubs, gowns, stretcher sheets, and non-medical face masks. Less than a month after the pandemic reached Africa, Tiffany Amber's entire factory refocused to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), something Coker notes took immense pressure to turn around.

The colorful garments of the Tiffany Amber fashion line, seen here during Arise Fashion week in 2019, have since been replaced in production by PPE to help during the pandemic.

To make the shift, Coker says the company first had to secure more than 15 tons of raw materials including approximately 90,000 yards of fabric, 300,000 yards of elastic, and almost a million yards of thread. All of this happened, she says, right before borders closed in Nigeria and prices spiked due to th