An Introduction to Native Nigerian Fashion

Nigeria is KNOWN for its culture: the events, food, and of course the fashion! During weddings and other occasions, self-expression and creativity shine through in the ways Nigerians make fashion out of things that are both old and new. Have you ever wondered about the roots of most of the outfits we see today? This article provides an introduction to native Nigerian fashion, from the staples to the styling! 

Yoruba bride and groom in asoebi

Northern Nigeria

Popular for its elegance, Northern Nigerian fashion consists of a lot of layering. The kaftan worn by the men is usually accompanied by a loose baban riga over it. The hula, or cap, accessorizes this outfit.

For women, an ankara blouse and skirt or dress is usually accompanied by a complementing veil. The intricacy of the material depends on the occasion, with heavier, more detailed fabrics being used for big occasions and simple materials for daily life. Long, loose gowns known as abayas are usually for casual settings, although they can be dressed up too. Accessories for women include flashy jewelry and lalle, or henna, usually on the hands.

Hausa bride with veil and lalle
Hausa man in kaftan and baban riga

Southwest Nigeria

Fashion from this part of the country is always evolving and finding new ways to use its staples. It is well-known for clothes like agbada, gele, iro and buba, and fabrics like aso oke and adire. The aso oke is a hand-woven cloth while the adire is made by tie and dye!

Worn by women, the iro and buba is a wrapper with a loose blouse usually worn with the gele on the head. The agbada is a loose robe (similar to the baban riga) worn by men over a matching inner set of a shirt and trousers. Traditional clothing from this region is very detailed and intricate with an emphasis on sets containing complementing pieces.

Vintage Yoruba fashion
Modern Yoruba wedding fashion

Southeast Nigeria

Did you know that the Igbo traditional attire is called Isiagu? Isi-Agu, which literally means lion’s head in Igbo, is a pullover shirt made with fabric that has lion heads printed on it. Traditionally, it is given to a man with a chieftaincy title and is usually paired with a red or leopard print cap.

Women wear form-fitting clothes in either isiagu or ankara that accentuate their figures through countless styles. For big occasions, they are adorned in statement jewelry.

A popular fashion accessory is called the nza, or horsetail, and most people now use it in weddings, funerals, and dances. Like most Nigerian fashion, the fashion from this part of the country is always colorful and bold

Igbo couple with: isiagu, a sleeveless dress, coral beads, horsetail
Igbo man with: isiagu, coral beads

Bonus! How many of the following do you recognize?


Coral beads! The Edo people are known for making fashion out of coral jewelry, which can be in any form, from elaborate headpieces to ankle pieces. The women tie very colorful wrappers made from various fabrics like velvet and lace.

Edo mother and daughter in sleeveless lace dresses covered in coral beads


When it comes to fashion, the Tiv are known for their A'nger, a black and white striped material. It is a woven cloth that is then dyed and packaged for sale. The classic black and white clothing represent peace and simplicity. Initially draped around the torso, it is now made into all sorts of clothing pieces.

Tiv woman wearing black and white material and holding horsetail


Traditional Fulani fashion centers around the Mudukare, a mix of red, blue, and green embroidery, woven into white fabric. Mudukare for women looks like a sleeveless half-top worn over a wrapper while men wear a long, sleeveless shirt with a pair of medium-length shorts. The women wear beaded jewelry all over, while the men are known for their cone-shaped hats called noppiire.

Fulani fashion: white material
Fulani fashion: blue material


Men and women alike tie long wrappers made of George cloth, a great, fashionable material from India where it is used to make saris! With this wrapper, men typically wear long, white, cotton shirts and accessorize with wide-brimmed hats and walking sticks. Beads are also important accessories and can be red, white, or peach with varying sizes and shapes depending on the occasion.

Urhobo couple
Urhobo couple

We all know fashion is one of the most popular things about Nigeria. It's one of the reasons we have a fashion collection! We love to see how you style the pieces and make them yours so keep tagging us in those outfit posts! 

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