Gbenga Olanipekun, chief executive officer of the Ibadan based Melandre shoes has lamented elite appetite for foreign made products as the bane of Nigerian shoe industry.
Olanipekun, in an interview, argued that Nigerian shoemakers make good stuff but face poor patronage especially from the elite members of the society who prefer foreign products in the face of a better local substitute.
“The Italian shoes use the same leather as many Nigerian shoemakers. The difference is in the quality of the machines they use for finishing.
” In Nigeria, our shoes are largely handmade while theirs is industrially produced. But do you know that handmade shoes abroad are far more expensive! But here, our work is looked down upon,” he said.
Olanipekun shares an experience he recently had when a client ordered for four shoes online from Lagos.
He said the order also came with a question about the shoes’ origin, which he ignored to answer knowing that the answer could ruin the transaction.
He said when his agent in Lagos delivered the shoes to the prospective buyer, the man first showered so much praise on the shoe and asked for its country of origin.
The agent happily answered that they were made in Ibadan.
He said the prospective buyer’s enthusiasm quickly waned and opted to buy only the one he wore.
He appreciated Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for showing support for made-in-Nigerian products as he did when he came to Ibadan in 2018 for a small and medium scale (SME) clinic.
He said Osinbajo really encouraged him at that event when they both pose for a photograph to show off a customized shoe he made for the number two