The History of Male Clothing in Nigeria

Shanae Wright

Posted on mars 13 2020

The History of Male Clothing in Nigeria

The fashion industry in Nigeria has witnessed a lot of changes against what it used to be a couple of decades back. The abundant styles of clothing for both males and females is a clear indication of this transformation! As already mentioned, the trend we have today is not what it used to be—and one may wonder how it all started.

In this article, we’re going to beam the light to male clothing. So, if you’ve been wondering how male clothing started in Nigeria and has evolved to what we have today, this article is for you. We’re going to attempt the history of male clothing in Nigeria and a brief review of some of the top brands/styles available on the market.

Male clothing in Nigeria—How it started

The history of male clothing in Nigeria is deeply rooted in Africa’s clothing history at large.

Sadly, not so much is available in the literature about how clothing started in Africa due to the lack of documented accounts—text and visuals. However, the African man back then was said to have little or nothing to do with clothing. The climatic conditions were good enough for men to go bare body, and they could only wear an apron (and shorts to cover their genitals) made from lion skins and other animals, while the women have wrappers around their waist and breast.

The stone age man also made use of bark cloth. This was made through peeling bark from trees—he pounds it to become thin and malleable. Then small pieces are jointly sewn with hide or raffia to become larger pieces and used to cover the body.

This continued until the advent of trades relationship between Europe and Africa—around the 15th century. With items from Europe, Africans began to learn various weaving techniques, using fibres, cotton, raffia, wool, and silk to ply their trade.  

And today, in Nigeria, there is a long list of traditional male clothing made in a more sophisticated pattern and styles. A lot of Nigerians—home and diaspora use their native attires for various occasions, and even some foreigners have adopted the Nigerian/African pattern of dressing.

Here is a quick look at some of the top Nigerian male clothing available on the market:


This dress is worn by a good number of African countries, including Nigeria. The dress is a long vest robe with sleeves. Before now, kaftans were perceived to be worn by older people. But presently, kaftan has become so popular and worn by young men of all ages, thanks to the unique styles introduced by the fashion industry.


In Nigeria, Agbada is mostly worn by the Yorubas—one of the dominant ethnic groups in Nigeria. However, many other tribes in Nigeria now wear Agbada to special occasions; in fact, it is one of the fashionable dresses used for traditional marriages in Nigeria. Agbada consists of three pieces of clothing; a shirt—long sleeves, a big gown with a hole in the centre (buba) one that goes down to the kneel, and a trouser.  And also a hat that goes with the dress.


The Igbo people of Nigeria mostly wear this dress. It could be short or long-sleeved. It’s adorned with a trouser (usually black) and a red cap. This attire is mostly worn on special occasions in the Igbo tradition. Chiefs and high ranking individuals are frequent on this dress.


Jalabiya is said to originate in Arab, and it is one of the male clothing in Nigeria. It is native to the people of Northern Nigeria—the Fulanis and Hausas. However, as other male clothing, many tribes in Nigeria also dress on Jalabiya.

Wrap Up

Male clothing in Nigeria has evolved over the years, and there is a likelihood of more advancement in the fashion industry. Apart from the traditional African wears, male clothing in Nigeria has expanded to the use of foreign wears such suits, polo shirts, etc. Moreover, there are other numerous traditional male clothing such as Dashiki, Ankara style for males, traditional wrapper, senator styles, amongst others.

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