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Of Mutuality and Copying: Fashioning Aso Ebi through Fashion Magazines in Lagos

by Okechukwu Nwafor

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In Nigeria, what is known as Aso Ebi has become one of the most powerful elements for understanding the city’s sartorial practices and visual economy. Aso Ebi is a common Yoruba phrase meaning, “uniformed solidarity dressing.” In this article, I argue that, while Aso Ebi is a consequence of what I call Lagos cosmopolitanism, its fashioning is largely tied to a dialogue between photographers, fashion magazines, vendors, and tailors in urban Lagos. I demonstrate how the central facilitator of this mutuality resides in the fashion magazines. The article shows that while the language of Aso Ebi, both in its socializing message and dress codes, frames the notions of uniformity, the practice of Copying enables the individuals to transcend the burdens imposed by Aso Ebi uniformity.

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