Why I Don't Buy Asoebi + How it Almost Ruined a Friendship
I hate to ruffle feathers but on this occasion, I had to. Because for the life of me, I could not understand how asoebi was threatening to ruin a valuable friendship.
If you're not Nigerian, or if you're a Nigerian that rather strangely cannot identify with the term asoebi, let me come to your rescue, so we're all on the same page. Asoebi is Yoruba word meaning cloth of the family. Cloth = Aso; Ebi = Family. So essentially a specific fabric to be worn during social events as a way of identifying family members and relatives.
But thanks to social media (which has changed pretty much everything in our lives), it has taken a drastic turn. It is no longer just restricted to family members but now extends to friends, and is worn during weddings, funerals and even naming ceremonies!
At Nigerian weddings in particular, there seems to be an unofficial competition with asoebi. While the events owners aim for a fabric that isn't common, the guests likewise seek for uncommon final designs that could outdo the next person - and even sometimes the couple.
I personally hardly buy asoebi as I have never really been a fan of it. I really dislike blending with the crowd or having my outfit tagged as the uniform of "so and so" event. Also, from an economist's (yep I've got two degrees in related fields!) point of view, I don't find it cost effective at all. I usually can’t re-rock the outfit and would rather utilise the money for something valuable. In basic economics 101 terms, I often think of the opportunity cost.
In my usual fashion (pun intended) and staying true to my values, in place of asoebi, I usually opt for a lace fabric that I love and make this into a comfortable style. If I'm able to, I'd also happily stick to the colour of the day. In the alternative, I simply wear a nice 'off the rack' dress - no fuss!
So I was rather surprised when recently, a friend considered my stance on asoebi a personal affront to her. I had simply told her that I was going to attend her wedding in my own outfit! This led to an argument and I started to feel bad. So I began to weigh my options, so as not to offend my friend on her big day.
But as if in a flash, my senses returned. I mentally outlined the costs of buying the asoebi and also sewing it. Unfortunately, it was too large a budget that I just couldn't accommodate. So I stuck to my guns. After a lot of back and forth in conversation, she finally saw reason from my point of view (as I'd expect absolutely everyone to!)
I decided to give her a wedding gift that pretty much equalled the asoebi amount. She really appreciated the gesture as it would remain a useful item in the months and years after the wedding. And on my end at the very least, I saved the cost of sewing and the mental burden of having outfits in my suitcase that I may never use again. These fabrics and gele (scarves/head ties) do not come cheap - and the prices are often ridiculously inflated. I have on many occasions tried to wrap my head around the whole asoebi craze and compulsion but still, I can't.
And even if I were gifted the fabric, there's the pressure of keeping up with Lagos cosmopolitan fashion to turn the fabric into a not-so-regular-and-slay-worthy design, which you often have to pay through your nose for. Why? Because - fashion designers in Lagos!
Finding the perfect fashion designer is a task and a half. It’s like going on multiple dates till you find the perfect one: the one who knows the cut that suits your body, how to hide your creases but accentuate your curves. The one who would not disappoint you and would have the outfit at the time and day agreed. The one who above all, would not break the bank.
With the amounts charged by these designers, I sometimes wish I could sew. And no, I do not belittle their efforts. I understand the manpower and craft that goes into building that perfect outfit. But c'mon the prices they quote is just sometimes ridiculous - especially when it's an asoebi for a 'Lagos Wedding'. Lagos is small, word gets around, designers are few. So yes, one designer probably has to make ten outfits for the same asoebi. That possibly places a premium on the sewing. See why I avoid it?
So let me throw this question to you. To you often feel obliged to buy asoebi and you can't say no? Why do people take it personally when friends don’t purchase the asoebi packages (is it because it's inflated and they hoped to cash out from it or because they feel you're not in their corner?).
Either way, this feeling of entitlement or pressuring people has to stop. Tell us your experiences and stance, and of course if you know one of those designers that are worth their weight in gold (or if you are one yourself), please spill some info!