Back home I enjoy shopping for clothing treasures at Goodwill or Value Village, though my absolute favorite store is Eddie Bauer. Buying clothes here in Niamey is not as simple (since there aren’t any clothing stores like that), but the clothes are certainly more lovely! The clothes for women here in Niger are absolutely unique and beautiful. Driving down the road, it is a very real distraction to notice the stunning, flowing fabric of a woman’s dress as she walks along the road. For me, the goal is to be approachable for the people here, to be culturally appropriate and break down as many “walls” as possible. I’m going to share the process with you here, though I regret my photography isn’t the best – sorry!
Here is how it works: First I must go to the market and buy some fabric.
As you can see, there are SO MANY CHOICES! It takes awhile to sort through it all. A sweet woman will help unfold the fabric so I can stand back and really see it in full.
This shop is usually full of people. The owner is a very friendly man who greets me with a wide smile and the traditional french phrases. I make my choice finally, but that is only the beginning! Now I must decide what style to have made. I like to borrow one from a friend to use as a “modèle” for the tailor.
I found this tailor through my missionary friend (thanks Becky!).
I bring my fabric and the modèle to his little shop. Then he will take my measurements (since the modèle is in my friend’s size!).
Then, after making a negotiation for the price and finalizing the date for pick-up, I’m on my way! I’ll be back within a week or less to pick up my lovely outfit. I may need to make some minor adjustments, but the final result is really special.
Here are a few pictures to show some outfits that Ruth and I have had made since we’ve arrived in January…
As you can see, this isn’t the quick option we have in the USA, but I enjoy it. Our language tutor told me recently that Nigeriens see a westerner in african clothes and it immediately has a warming effect, making them more approachable. They appreciate the modesty and effort to adapt to their culture in this way.
I’m curious… what’s YOUR favorite store?