Established ten years ago in Lagos, Temple Muse has maintained its position as the number one shopping destination when it comes to luxury in Africa. Elle's Fashion Director, Dimeji Alara, spoke to Avinash and Kabir Wadhwani, the brothers behind Temple Muse, about ten years of running the luxury concept store and more.
It’s been ten years since Temple muse opened. What has the journey been like?
Ten years have flown by, the journey has been long but extremely exciting and most importantly, progressive. The brand has evolved and over the years we have established Temple Muse as a leading luxury brand in Nigeria, grown our roster of designers and artists across Africa and the globe as well as having delved into new product categories like beauty and fine art. Furthermore, we are extremely grateful for the support we have received within the industry and of course our loyal clientele.
How did Temple Muse start?
Having grown up in Lagos, the plan was always to move back home after studying and working in the UK, so in 2008 we did. Although we had seen a lot of positive changes, we were surprised to find that people were still traveling to London, Paris and New York to purchase luxury goods as well as giftware and home accessories. We saw a niche in the market and after a few trunk shows testing it out, we opened our first store within a year.
Tell us about the team behind Temple Muse.
We are still a small team but one that is growing. Personally, we are both very hands-on in all aspects of the business and lucky to have the support network of talented retail operations & marketing team.
How would you compare the demand for luxury goods to ten years ago when you started?
It has grown significantly. Part of our ethos is not only to house international brands that people are familiar with but also find new and upcoming brands from within the continent that are luxury brands in the making as well as from around the globe. Our brand mix is made up of a number of labels from Africa but also from as far as Australia, India, Kuwait, and Brazil – and it’s still growing! However, availability is key in this market, and more retailers have set up shop in an industry, which continues to grow, so the end customer has more selections and choices than ever.
"Quality, finishing, a proper understanding of the business and production are a pre-requisite for any designer that we stock as we need to maintain our standards."
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced so far?
We do have a number of basic infrastructure issues that we face day to day, but these are improving year on year, which is positive not only for us but all sectors of the economy.
Are people still buying local brands?
Very much so. People are proud of their culture and heritage so the growth of the Nigerian fashion industry enabled people to celebrate their identity and individuality, much like in China and India where there are now hundreds of established designers.
I do remember when you started, and I see a lot of growth. Do you see the same growth with African designers?
We do stock quite a few designers from across Africa and we plan to bring more on board. We want to offer more choices. There is so much talent out there and we need to do more when it comes to exposing brands to the end customer. We are seeing more and more African brands in showrooms and fashion weeks so there is more visibility and interest on the continent as well as on the international scene, which shows substantial growth.
Would you say the quality produced by local designers has improved?
Most definitely – quality is the most important facet for designers. If this can be achieved, it builds loyalty and followership.
How would you say Temple Muse has contributed to helping young African designers?
Quality, finishing, a proper understanding of the business and production are a pre-requisite for any designer that we stock as we need to maintain our standards. So, we watch/research/talk to new designers who are on our radar for a few seasons, keep conversations open, and then review bringing them in once they meet our criteria. Also, once a brand is at Temple Muse we use all our platforms and resources to market the designers to showcase their collections and tell their story/vision.
Any plans for expansion? Are you looking into other African countries?
Well it’s been ten years since we opened our first store and yes, we are outgrowing our current space, so we do have some plans to expand in Lagos in the near future as well as other exciting plans up our sleeve, so watch this space!
What are some of the new African brands you’ve taken on this year?
We have brought in a number of new brands this year, however, the two latest additions to our mix are Bello Edu (Ghana) whose aesthetic is about simple, sophisticated pieces for the modern woman and Tongoro (Senegal) who is exploding globally with her beautiful prints in bold colourways done in her signature silhouette.