It Takes Conscious Effort To Do Fashion – Odeyemi | Independent Newspapers Limited
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It Takes Conscious Effort To Do Fashion – Odeyemi

Posted: Oct 3, 2015 at 12:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Fehintola Ifunaya Odeyemi, is a graduate of Architecture from the University of Nottingham Trent, United Kindgom and also the creative director of August By Fenny Apparel. Here in this piece, the young designer takes Chinyere Abiaziem on her journey into fashion. Excerpts:

How did you come by your business name?

I was born in August so I got my business name from my birth month.

 When did you start your fashion business?



When I was young I had always wanted to make things with my hands before I learnt to sew with the machine. My mum used to sew as well; she made her wedding gown herself.  She did not make it into a proper business but as a hobby. So gradually I learnt how to use her machine and ripped off a couple of her clothes, but now she thinks it has paid off as it has grown into a proper business.

Then when I went to the university that was when I started proper, I posted a few things that I made on my blog. I did not register it as a business proper until I came back here in Nigeria in November 2012, although I registered it in February 2015.  I looked at the Nigerian market and discovered that a lot of things changed the kind of people that wanted my clothes when I was in the UK and those that want them now. I tried to adapt and I’m still trying to adapt as I have moved from my former base in Kaduna to Lagos.

What actually changed with the people in demand of your designs?

What changed is the status and age difference. Then when I was in the UK, the home students were always excited to see African prints but could not necessarily afford it unlike the foreign students who could afford my designs.  Again most of the people I was exposed to then were students. But coming back here I’m aiming at the working class because they are the people that can necessarily afford what I sell. Now I’m trying to look at what people wear to work and wedding.

I’m sure your advent into fashion must have been borne out of  passion and a conscious decision?

Yes it is both. My coming into fashion is a result of my decision and the passion I have for it because I have always loved fashion. As a trained architect it takes a conscious effort to do something else. If you talk to an architect you will know that being an architect is very tedious. So for you to be doing something you have to make a conscious effort to do it, otherwise you will just realise that you will be so tired to do anything else when you come back from your day’s work as an architect.

I studied architecture because of the environment we are in. To be honest I will say If you study fashion people may look at you a bit differently maybe you are running away from something serious.  You don’t have to study fashion to go into fashion, it may help in the pool of your knowledge. But in the event where you have to work and take a break from fashion, you will have a good placing.

Guess you had a premonition of going into fashion?

Yes, I have always known I would go into fashion. Though my dad who also is an architect pulled me into architecture. His office is in the same compound with my house, I was literally going to his office. If you find yourself in that environment you will definitely will have that influence whether you like it or not. If it was technical drawing I was really good at it so I do not really see why I should close my eyes to architecture just because I wanted to do fashion. If I can do both, why not? 

It is without doubt that your background in architecture is a whole lot beneficial to your fashion work?

Certainly though I did not see them as related before.  It was just the love of fashion and the happening of studying architecture. In my final year in the university I realised that the things in the designing process where you get your sketches, how you develop your idea into sketches of a building could also apply to a collection and then I find myself going through that exact process. It is an edge, being an architect and designer are part of who I am so there is no need to separate them.  I think they kind of complement each other.

How challenging do you find the Nigeria’s fashion industry?

It is very challenging, because it is fairly unregulated. You just have to find your way to the top. When you are not established, you ask the difference between you and the market tailor, it is really very difficult.

Some persons believe that it is better to have a fashion business going on in somewhere like the UK than here in Nigeria?

Well for me, part of why I’m here is that I want to add something good to the Nigerian or African market. It is not necessarily about making money otherwise I won’t be setting up my production unit here in Nigeria but will be shipping my stuffs to India or any other place wherever and have them produced and sent back but that does not in any way help Nigerians. After all this is the only country I will say I’m a first class citizen so I might as well help my country. On the other hand being there is also good as well because if you can get your feet in the right doors, you could go upwards from there. In that sense, if you talk to the right people and do your research, it is easier to get to a high level than when you are here. You will also have to intimate yourself with what it took successful people to remain in business.

How do you intend to push your business upward and keep it sustained?

I cannot say I know for sure but one thing is that the only businesses that have failed are the ones that have stopped trying. I need to get myself connected to the right people that are interested in fashion. When people see what they wear they get interested as well. I’m trying to find the right people since I’m new in this city of Lagos.

Do you see celebrity designers intimidating?

I find them more inspirational than intimidating because I do not believe there is no one at the top who has not worked for it. It looks all glamorous when you see them in the media and in fashion weeks in Paris and they got loads of attention, it is a lot of work. Between when I started and where I am now, a person just starting will think that maybe she had it easy or something. I don’t feel that anyone at all had it easy so I don’t feel intimidated but I just  know that I have to put in my best and be determined and push myself in the right direction and know I will get there someday. So they are more inspirational than intimidating.

What distinguishes your designs from that of other designers?

I have looked at many designs, first of all I will say the influence of my background in architecture. The shapes of my pieces, the colour combination, the combination of western and African dressing,  a subtle touch of African prints as they are the straight traditional wears like Iro and Buba, skirt and blouse.

Do clients bring their materials for you to make them clothes or you do only readymade clothes?

I prefer to sell readymade clothes that is why I am holding back a bit because I will prefer to have a production unit where you can look at the catalogue and choose what you want and I will give it to you in your size.

What are your last words to youths?

In Nigeria everyone wants to be an entrepreneur and I believe that we do not yet have the discipline that it takes to do that. So work with someone else and put in all the hard work.  I think we need the regiment of waking up by 6am and going to work by 8am then leave work at a certain time. People should try and discipline themselves and do research of what other people are doing, educate themselves in what they are interested and I think that will go a long way. Knowledge and discipline are the basic keys.