Beyond Creativity; Fashion Focus Talk

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Lagos Fashion Week

Ask me about this time in my country Nigeria and I’ll tell you of the hope some of us are nursing in our mind and the picture in our head of how not so bad the situation of this country is, the believe that everything will work out someday and some things will change the story of this great country. Like how fashion became the symbol of Paris, same is the hope of Nigeria but not everybody can see that to want to invest in the industry, many sees it as a joke, like industry for jokers and gays. Same way they looked down on early musicians that built the music industry, the industry that’s redefining the image of not only the country but the continent, our fashion industry will be celebrated.

Some revolution will not be televised, some will be inform of gatherings where professionals and top industry people will come talk to growing minds that wants to be part of this revolution to bring their dreams to life. The truth is, we all can’t be politicians or pastors, musicians or actors, some of us fashion is our tool of change, the weapon we want to use to change the narrative. The theme of Fashion Focus Talks this year was Beyond Creativity and the finale was in Lagos with Mai Atafo (Creative Director, Mai Atafo), Joseph Ike (Creative Director, Jzo), Sanyade Okoli (CEO, Alpha African Advisory), Rukky Ladoja (Creative director, Grey Projects) and Isioma Onochie-Adihie (CEO, Grey Velvet Stores) as speakers to talk to the growing fashion society.

Tailors and designers are on the increase, skilled and many unskilled that’s making it look like the industry is a joke but the real ones are fighting to make it real. Some works you’ll come across and you’ll want to buy just for keep because they’re so beautiful that you can’t resist not owning, some works, you’ll want to curse the maker. Every designer/tailors have their own customer; guess some people can deal with shitty things. The growing fashion community is passionate, our fashion we’ll forever appreciate and try our best to make it a better industry that’ll not only shape our society but also put us on that map we’ve dreamt of when we were young, to be respected and for our works to be recognized because some people produce good stuffs.

Fashion Focus Talks Lagos

September is usually the big issue month because it’s the fashion season, here in Africa it’s the time we prepare for Heineken Lagos Fashion Week, and this year’s Fashion Focus Talks final talks ended on a good note in Lagos after being to Dakar, Kigali and Abuja. Nobody is ever too busy to pick the call of his or her lover; somehow, you will almost never be late for what is important. African time is our culture; we celebrate it everywhere we go. The talk was for 3pm but people came earlier than that, the hall was filled before 3pm, many people couldn’t make it inside because the policy of the place permit no standing, some left while some stayed at the carpet networking. Everything fashion is attractive and cool maybe that’s why, we’re always interested to stay around beautiful things, they keep us cool and creative, a prove that the country can change if everything is more fanciful, allowing us to express our truth.

With the advancement of HLFW breaking new boundaries, highlighting and tackling the issues of fashion, finding solutions, there’s hope the industry will form soon and gradually we’ll creatively find solutions to the problems we’re bound to face. Presently, distribution is one major problem of the industry, the reason many are calling their brand luxury, creating limited editions and serving directly to customers, if there’s a proper distribution channel, many designers will dive into ready to wear collections. The advantage of mass-producing ready to wear is, it will help define our style in this society because designers will produce for the people here, creating pieces that’ll fit our weather and the popular size. We can be one of the fashion communities to find solution to the issue of size in ready to wear and in general, especially with clothes for bigger size, around the world the issue of size is still one big nut to crack.

The idea of industrialization is to bring together the creativity of different people working to achieve one goal with different expertise. Only few people are seeing an industry where many are not looking. The beauty of industry is to help validate the works and contributions of these people to humanity. They think fashion is not important, like they mock then the music/musicians they celebrate today, that industry they mocked then, they now celebrate, they became big enough, guess that’s why Oluwa Burna could give back his concert attendee his ticket money because he’s of a bad vibe, no bad vibe allowed.

Bring all these people working for fashion together under one umbrella, see it as an industry and treat it as one, it will not help the creative people only but the country, its image and contribute to our gdp. That’s what the organizers of Heineken Lagos Fashion Week are doing differently that this generation will forever appreciate, they’re becoming the elders we wish for growing up.

Lagos Fashion Week

Isioma Onochie-Adihie and attendees

Isioma Onochie-Adihie the CEO of Grey Velvet Stores brought a different twist to the panel, probably not the kind of person you’ll expect, like she said, she’s not fashionable and not in fashion for beauty and glamour, she came in for the business, to sell the different pieces people create but with a standard and she has helped many brands and also created a branded and trusted fashion retail trade. Joseph Ike the Creative Director of JZO, his former job as a psychiatrist, that knowledge I’ll believe has helped make his designs fit our everyday lives stylishly because he understands what we’re facing and our environment, his start up taught us to take calculated risk, more like dare yourself to win.

It’s a multi-billion dollar industry in some countries, it can be here too but we’re distracted by petroleum, agriculture and Yahoo that we miss to invest in other industries that can produce and make impact on a global scale.

Sanyade Okoli the CEO of Alpha African Advisory talk  from the critical financial advisory angle, critical analysis of investment, the economy and the market, telling us of some harsh reality and the possibility of the Naira been devalued again. The advantage of the devaluation to the industry will be that it will help us look inward if we care enough because it will force us to save cost which will make us patronize ourselves, sourcing within our environment which will be a good way to promote the buy Africa/Nigeria wear Africa/Nigeria campaign. Mai Atafo made one illustration that gave the room hope, he flashed back to how the music industry started and where they are now, it was not easy for them, they had their own issues too, piracy and many problems that posed failure but look at that industry today. He talked about the importance of balanced account, knowing your customer, for him, his wife helped him find his customer, the groom and the bride and voila, we celebrate Mai everyday.

Collaborating to create capsule collections will also help promote brands and aid distribution, as there are many problems with the industry, the solutions to these problems are with us but until we make it popular the culture of fashion, some solutions we may never find. Several topics light the bulb in my head during the talk; one that distracted me most was when Mai said he’s looking for someone to help him flag his ready to wear collection, ah! An idea for a capsule collection came up in my head, who says we can’t replicate the successful collaboration of Supreme and LV in Africa.

Heineken Lagos Fashion Week

Omoyemi Akerele the founder of this platform that will change the lives of many unborn Nigerians. She’s a legend already because she’s giving us something to build on, in Nigeria HLFW is one event we look forward to every year, aside from the beauty of clothes, people and personalities that’ll be everywhere, the show validate our dreams and we can’t wait for the thrill of this year’s installment. One of the many reasons I love fashion is, it teaches you to be true to yourself, lying to yourself I still consider the greatest sin.  Rukky Ladoja the Creative director of Grey Projects told the story of how she and her team started Grey Projects, the opening they saw in the market that they wanted to fix, they did until they had to face reality and decided to close their doors, but her experience and knowledge gathered during those time when Grey Projects was functioning you’ll have to pay school fees for to learn her lessons.

The show ended with Q&A, some questions were great and some not too great but we love every reply, after it ended inside the hall everybody came out to the carpet to take pictures and to network. The interesting thing with the fashion world is, the top guys are giving back to the ones coming the best way they can, through advice, shows, competitions and they can be accessible to a certain extent.

Heineken Lagos Fashion Week

Fashion helps us express our truth, what they don’t want us to express. In fashion you express who you are freely, you dress as you please. It’s like in a prison when you’re restricted on what to wear, the freedom to wear whatever you want is real freedom and that’s what the fashion industry is giving, that’s why they make people not see the business and prospect of it, some doctrines will compel you to dress a certain way. There’s a sense of truth that comes with you deciding what to wear for your own reasons not for the reasons you’re compel to.