The World Of Grey With Joke Ladoja
Joke Ladoja, the creative director and designer behind Grey for over eight years, has kept a very low profile in the fashion industry. Although Grey designs have been worn by the likes of Chimamanda Adichie and featured in Vogue US and Vogue Italia, the architect behind the successful brand remains a mystery.
A former columnist for Next newspaper, Ladoja has the respect of people in the fashion industry, yet her personal motivation and identity remain under lock and key. Ladoja gave us a little insight into her brand and some of her personal views.
Do you make a conscious decision to distance your personal brand from Grey?
Grey was not formed from my personality or as an extension of me; we very much had the Nigerian woman in mind. We want to cater to her lifestyle and needs. It wouldn’t be authentic to Grey or our customers to make it about me.
In light of how the world has changed and the rise of ‘self-branding’ through various platforms, do you see yourself expressing your own voice through other mediums like writing again or even social media?
It was hard juggling Grey and writing. I put a lot of research into writing and Grey was in its start-up phase, so it was hard to balance the two. That aside, I do enjoy writing but I will only write if I have something unique to contribute.
There are so many mediums to express yourself. It is important we are engaging in expressing our opinions, but we have to realise we have a long way to go in having an impact. I am reluctant to engage too much on social media because, quite frankly, not all opinions have to be shared, including my own.
Do you have any opinions on feminism in Nigeria?
I do! Globally, everything is changing seemingly quickly. If we only followed what was happening with the feminist movement on social media, it’ll be difficult to figure out how or where to even start addressing or identifying the more particular issues that suppress us or hinder our growth locally. Sure, there are parallels regarding the experiences of women all over the world; yet, if we fashion our opinions or actions to imitate the West’s more advanced development, we won’t solve the problems unique to us.
I support calling out men and women who are derogatory in every way. We need to stand up for ourselves, but we also have to understand the root cause of our own patriarchy; which to me seems to be largely mental conditioning for both sexes.
How do you handle challenges in Nigeria?
I am an entrepreneur, a mother and a woman. I experience these challenges on a regular basis. I celebrate the highs with a lot of enthusiasm. I’m very keen on encouraging and celebrating those tiny successes.
With Grey, I confess I am always extremely hard on myself and find it hard to let go of the failures or accept them as just that. I am currently reading fashion journal Vestoj issue no 6 from 2015 which focuses on failure in fashion. I am learning again that a truly creative life cannot be maintained by the esteem of others nor can it be ruined by criticism, no matter how harsh. At the heart of it, life is a continuum of people who have succeeded and failed and either end of the spectrum is not the end.