Fake Nigeria World Cup jerseys fly off the shelves

2018-06-15 13:53

Lagos - In Nigeria's commercial hub, Lagos, the question isn't whether you're going to buy the neon green and white zig-zag jersey of the national football team, it's how much you want to pay.

It seems there's a replica top to suit all pockets in the bustling markets, which also do a thriving trade in everything from fake Gucci swimming trunks to Kanye West Yeezy sneakers.

The official Super Eagles jersey is priced at $85 at the Nike store.

But one Lagos market trader said he sells jerseys shipped from Thailand for 17,000 naira ($47, 40 euros) - and demand is huge.

"The ones I sell here are the highest quality in the market," he told AFP. "By 2:00 pm I'll get another 1,000 pieces, by the weekend it will be gone."

The monthly minimum wage in Nigeria is set at 18,000 naira, making even that price too high for many people.

Another vendor who imports his jerseys from China has cheaper options. "We have quality and we have lowest quality," he said.

"The quality one you can even buy it (for) 5,000 naira, the lowest quality is 3,000 or 2,500 ($7, 6 euros)."

Nigeria's new kit has been a major talking point in the run up to the World Cup finals, which began in Russia on Thursday.

Nike's flagship London store was stripped of its Nigeria stock within minutes of it going on sale for the first time earlier this month.

"The jersey is colourful, it's beautiful, it's trending all over the world," said Super Eagles fan Michael Echezona.

"I hope you know that it's the best jersey so far for this competition, I'm proud to put on my jersey. We're representing Africa."

But it's not just the jerseys that have made Nigeria the fashion darlings of the tournament.

When the team arrived in Russia this week, they stepped off the plane dressed in an all-white traditional outfit with embroidered green wings spread across the chest.

The look was completed with a white fedora decorated with an emerald green ribbon and matching feather and white shoes with green tassles.

Nigeria, the youngest team of the tournament, carried off the look with aplomb, prompting fans around the world to vote them as the most stylish team in several polls.

It's exactly that youthful swagger that Nike design director Pete Hoppins was hoping to reflect in the jersey.

"There's a confidence in all these young players, they're going to go for it and we were attracted to that," he told Fader magazine in an interview this month.

"A lot of them are playing in some of the top clubs in Europe and there's that boldness."

It helps that the release of the unconventional collection, which features a black and green floral tracksuit and bucket hats, comes at the height of the "athleisure" trend, which sees clothes usually reserved for sweaty workouts worn on the street.

Recent collections by Stella McCartney for Adidas and Rihanna for Puma have helped blur the line between high-fashion and sport.

In April, grime artist Skepta wore the Nigeria jersey on stage and supermodel Naomi Campbell posted a photo of herself wearing it on Instagram.

"The jersey just represents Nigerian flamboyance," said Jimmy Ayeni, founder of Vivendii, a Lagos-based fashion line.

"I think Nigeria is having its moment in terms of culture, our culture is being heavily celebrated."

Ayeni hopes that the flamboyance can help score some goals for Nigeria, who play their first game against Croatia on Saturday.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, we're not going to win the World Cup," said Ayeni.

"It's not so much about winning, it's just about everyone feeling content that we did our best"

But, at the very least, the Super Eagles can make their exit in style.

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