By Oluwatoyin Adeleye
So we took the liberty to find out more about the people who came about the Epic Fashions Finest Africa show and there was so much to discover. From a fashionable accountant, to a relentless events manager and the delightful PR consultant, here’s what you need to know about the three people behind this year’s Epic Show.
Yetunde “Yetty D” Ogunnubi is the Founder / CEO of YD Agency and a Co- Director of Fashions Finest Africa. She is a leading professional in the fashion and arts industry with over 15 years experience in PR, Marketing, Image Branding and Event Management. Over the years, Yetty has managed publicity projects for a number of government organizations, corporate businesses, fashion and creative events, press conferences and promoted emerging labels and artists of which many of them have gone ahead to become household names in their different industries.
See excerpts from her interview below:
Some would say Fashion’s Finest Africa is a huge vision. What led you to come up with this?
Fashion’s Finest Africa is a home coming for a platform that has prospered in the United Kingdom for over a decade. It is a fashion runway show that was conceptualized, to give a voice to fashion talent of African and ethnic origins in the United Kingdom. It had the unique ability to form a perfect blend of fresh fashion designers across racial lines, in a rare atmosphere of perfect unity, giving the room for full self-expression, irrespective of origins and backgrounds, in a clime that was full of fashion traditions and restrictions. This unique perspective provided opportunities equally for young undiscovered talent from all nations to get the limelight, leading to a startling success for the Fashion’s Finest Brand.
In coming home to Africa, in Lagos, the brand hopes to provide stepping stones for young African fashion talent, enabling them to rise above environmental limitations and flow into the mainstream global fashion culture. Fashion’s finest Africa will be a reverse migration platform for African Fashion Talent of the Diaspora. It will bring home their fresh ideas and evolvements and create an enabling environment for inspirations across both divides, with indigenous fashion talent, which has also evolved to a high degree of refinement here in Nigeria. The vision for Fashion’s Finest Africa is to be the agent that will catalyze future style evolvements for modern Africa, by bridging the gap between African fashion and its contemporaries in the western world.
What point do you think Nigeria has attained in the fashion industry?
Nigerian fashion designers have proved to the world that they have a vision and their abilities are not in doubt. But the industry in general still has a long way to go. There is need to bolster the industry across production strata from agriculture to manufacturing and promotions. Individual fashion designers have proved their mettle and continue to hold their place among the best all over the world. But all their glory is lost because fundamentally, the textile manufacturing base does not exist. So there is need for the responsible parties to put the right things in place for the industry to prosper. It does not make sense for our leaders to describe our youth as lazy when they have failed woefully to provide an enabling environment for the Nigerian youth to move forward.
What are your rules of fashion?
Personally I value my comfort in what I wear. Mix that with a sense of moderation and an undeniable tinge of glam and you have me. I am not essentially for out of the world fashion statements and neither am I a red carpet unforgettable. I believe that fashion must serve the twin roles of utility and aesthetics, and that is the rule that defines fashion for me.
Which of the current fashion trends would you say is ratchet?
Ratchet is uncouth and for me ratchet is typified by any fashion trend that sells women as sex objects. I believe that sex is a private thing and prowess and endowments in that regards must not be flaunted. But then that is my own opinion.
Sola Oyebade, popularly known as Mr. Mahogany is the multi award winning, CEO of Mahogany
International, an events and project management company which he started in 1996. With a
mixed Educational background from the UK and Nigeria, Sola is a graduate of Sociology from
the University of Lagos. He is also a former model.
Check out excerpts from his interview below:
From your profile, you seem to have always been interested in fashion and it’s industry. Why?
I have been in involved in the fashion industry for well over 40 years. I started off working in the fashion industry working on small fashion shows whilst in secondary school and then I moved into modelling during university and once I finished university I setup my own show production company producing fashion shows and other types of shows.
I love my job and what I do, putting together a show and working with creatives is just so exciting, being able to see something grow from nothing into an amazing event is very exciting. There is nothing better than seeing the smiles on people’s faces after a show that they have been wowed at.
My ultimate aim is to teach and inspire the next generation of fashion enthusiast and this is my sole being for loving the fashion industry.
Who are your favourite designers in Africa at the moment?
The funny thing about me and fashion is that I am not actually into the clothes sides of fashion, by that I mean that I am not crazy about clothes and what I wear but I am crazy about the industry as a whole. I have been fortunate to work with some amazing designers across the world and I must say that Africa has some of the best fashion talent in the world.
It would be unfair for me to state whom my favourite designers are as they are all my favourite.
Can you describe your experience planning and organizing a fashion event this big?
Over the past 30 years I have been fortunate enough to work on many big shows around the world and Fashions Finest AfricaEpic Show is no different from any other big fashion show that I have produced.
The work starts many months prior to the show ever taking place as we have to start planning the set and light design, choosing designers, conducting castings for models and working on the show schedule. On the day of the show I have to pull the whole technical team together to ensure everyone is in sync and that we have a perfectly well run show. I along with my team would call the show, which means making sure the models go out at the right time as well as the whole show is timed perfectly.
As a fashion show producer I wear so many hats, I have to be a politician, a diplomat, a disciplinarian, a shoulder to cry on as well as be prepared to have everyone blame you for everything even if it is not your fault. I have to be very well organised, think outside the box, pay attention to detail and be extremely creative. Working on this show we would have over 200 staff, crew, models and designers and this means that you must have excellent man management skills.
The thrill of the show is planning and organising the entire event, strategizing and working with people and creatives from all types of backgrounds.
What’s your favourite fashion accessory?
I love watches even though I only own one, which I have had for many many years. It seems contradictory to say that is my favourite fashion accessory when I only own one watch but I just love looking at watches. (however even though you cant really call it an accessory, I am mad about t-shirts).
From your trips across the world, what is the one fashion item that binds us all together across the world?
This is a very hard question and I have been struggling to come up with an answer. I suppose that is because fashion is universal and everyone loves fashion but which is the one item that binds us all together is so hard to think of. So no more procrastinating I would have to say jewelry is the one item as it is worn by everyone, male and female and there are many different jewelry forms, people love to give and receive jewelry. A wedding ring for example is a form of unification, a piece of jewelry that unites two people together.
Lucky Ohworode Idike JR. is an alumnus of two of Nigeria’s most prestigious educational Institutions (King’s College Lagos & University of Lagos) and a Fellow of ICAN1, Nigeria’s foremost Professional Association. Lucky is an economist and chartered accountant with extensive consulting experience. He has led and worked in various teams on a wide range of engagements in the public and private sector organisations (both for-profit and not-for-profit).
Check out excerpts from his interview below:
You’re an accountant, what’s the interest in fashion about?
Everyone likes well-dressed people and great clothes and I am no exception. I also saw an opportunity to start a retail business with non-perishable items that was scalable and fast moving. So I started fashion retail. I enjoyed it and at some point began to consider local production of garment under a garment label. The inherent dislocations in the system discouraged me and I moved on. Today I see a huge opportunity to provide 190m people with clothes, shoes, accessories and more. And I’m excited. On the policy side, I think we can make significant contributions to the existing Cotton, Textile and Garment policy that make it more effective. On the entrepreneurial side, I’m attracted to the possibility of helping to optimize industry operations so we can move from boutique production to mass production. The effect on the economy on via a massive skill acquisition programme, increased mass employment, well-being, sense of dignity of the average Nigerian will be amazing.
How important is accountability to fashion?
Clothing Nigeria’s 190mn people creates a huge business opportunity. Sadly the bulk of the value created from this opportunity rests offshore. One way to change this is to gather key stake-holders together to articulate an industry-wide strategy to help Nigerians produce garments in Nigeria for Nigerians. Our conference with this theme is therefore apt for Nigeria today. At FFA 2018, policy makers, local and international industry experts, entrepreneurs and other industry stake-holders will discuss challenges, insights and best practices in a bid to find the way forward.
Fashion is subjective. How fashionable would you say you are?
I think I’m quite fashionable; I like my outfit well-tailored and sharpish. My Kaftans I must say gets a lot of compliments.
What is your go-to outfit for a cool, casual day out?
A simple, one-color, 2 piece kaftan has become my signature outfit. Very versatile, it can be formal, business and casual all at once.
What is the major mistake you think many struggling fashion designers in Nigeria are making?
Many of these people are focused on developing their creative skills and keeping up to date with developments in the global fashion scene. But they forget that fashion has become first and foremost a business, before an art! That is the difference between a fashion entrepreneur and a fashion enthusiast.
Some highly skilled designers have struggled onto the scene but failed to maintain grip and fell back. On the other hand you see some blatantly unskilled people who know how to manage their clients well.
They start buying from designers and supplying to their clients from a small scale. Before you know it, they open up factories and start employing the designers! So the fundamental thing any fashion designer has to sharpen first is the business skills. Learn how to manage your clients. This is key. If you cannot go the extra mile to build your clientele base and stoop extra low to maintain them, you cannot go far. Then you must know how to manage your records. In many cases, an excellent business record is all you need to obtain loans from financial institutions. Then learn how to promote your business. Give it visibility and develop a brand followership for yourself. Skills and trend knowledge cannot sustain you in business and they cannot grow you. Excellent business skills and work ethics will make the sky your staring point! fashion retail marketing initiative. Imagine walking past a Niiffe store on Oxford Circus in London? All these and more are possible and I strongly believe that the time to act is NOW!
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