Ogunsakin Martin: A Designer’s Dream
As the spotlight on African creators continues to expand and shine more brightly than ever, the talent domiciled within the continent has continued to burst through and rise to the occasion.
A few weeks ago Tems and Burna Boy became the first African artistes to grace the Met Gala, Rema is currently touring India and Nigerian designer Faith Oluwajimi is one of the shortlisted finalists for the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Prize 2023. We’re truly living in exciting times.
Another interesting designer whose work has been gaining traction is Ogunsakin Martin founder of Martino, a trendy-catchy streetwear label with a mixed eccentric vibe of both athletic and street style hat passes the message of breaking boundaries.
He sits with The Guardian Life to discuss his influences, love for fashion and his vision for Martino.
Who is Ogunsakin Martin?
Ogunsakin Martin is a native of Nigeria, born and bred in Lagos. Growing up I developed interests in Art, sports, fashion and architecture. My first exposure to fashion was the television, I remember sitting on front of a small black TV watching the models walk the runway and I was intrigued, I thought this only existed abroad until I discovered the likes of Zizi Cardow and Mudi Africa and that struck me. Growing up I also loved sports (still do) my favourite sporting event was the Olympics. I was intrigued by all the different sports and their clothing. Those were big inspirations for me.
Did you have an interest in fashion as a kid and who were your early fashion influences? Fashion started early for me, my childhood dream was to be an architect but I always wanted to be free and not have to work for anyone, and also be able to express myself and creativity and live my life through that. In my early life, I started making beads. I developed my craft and I styled everything I made, so a lot of my friends and even teachers wanted my pieces and I got paid to make for them. That’s how I made money back then, I saw the real earning potential this craft possesses so I paid more attention and decided to pick up an internship at a local tailor shop. Where I learned the basics of pattern cutting, cutting & sewing garments then it just went up from there.
At what age did you start experimenting with fashion?
Fashion started early for me, my childhood dream was to be an architect but I always wanted to be free and not have to work for anyone, and also be able to express myself and creativity and live my life through that. In my early life, I started making beads. I developed my craft and I styled everything I made, so a lot of my friends and even teachers wanted my pieces and I got paid to make for them. That’s how I made money back then, I saw the real earning potential this craft possesses so I paid more attention and decided to pick up an internship at a local tailor shop. Where I learned the basics of pattern cutting, cutting & sewing garments then it just went up from there.
How did the Martino brand come about?
After years of learning, I realized my purpose was larger than being solely a craftsman. I wanted to own a company, a business that could in cooperate all these years of learning and expertise into. being also exposed to the financial market I wanted assets that served humanity and adding value to society. All of these thoughts birthed the MARTINO@ brand. My brainchild established in 2020, yes 2020 in a pandemic, says a lot about the story of the brand ‘AGAINST ALL ODDS’.
Why did you choose fashion design as a career path?
FASHION genuinely makes me happy, I could do this for free! Haha! Just kidding, but I chose fashion because it’s a profitable and genuine industry and I still get to create things that serve other humans around the world. That gives a huge sense of fulfilment and purpose. I’ll do this for the rest of my life and keep my legacy.
In your opinion, what are the skills that are necessary for becoming a successful fashion designer?
In my opinion, a positive mind is more needed than people highlight, it’s not easy doing something you don’t see immediate results in but stay true to the grind and remember why you started it, keep the vision alive. Secondly, you need a TEAM. Being successful in this industry is solely dependent on you and your team, you can’t achieve much without a solid team, then the last thing I think should be the relationships you keep. An OG once said “relationships will grant you access even your money can’t buy”.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style I would say is eccentric, athletic, laid-back and sexy.
What milestone achievement do you have in mind to attain with your brand [Martino] MARTINO has all the potential to become on the biggest and sort after brand out of Africa. And I as the creative director and CEO wants to explore all the opportunity I can at export and homegrown brand to suit the diaspora. We hope to have stores spread across 3 continents over the next couple of years and amerced thousands and millions of believers and followers that know that they too can do it ‘AGAINST ALL ODDS’.
Do you believe in collaboration within the fashion industry? If so, what would be your dream collab?
In business collaborations are an essential part of building a brand, reaching new audiences and creating unique products for the consumer. Yes, I absolutely believe in brand collaborations. And my dream collaboration would be with American designer rhuigi villasnor, CD (RHUDE), British designer George Heaton CD (REPRESENT), Jefferson osei CD (DAILY PAPER)), Virgil Abloh’s OFF WHITE that’s to mention a few. I want to do a lot collaboration with amazing brands and designers.
What’s the difference between fashion and style to you?
Fashion and style to me are very distinct but very intertwined, Fashion is basically the products made by a designer from eyewear to clothing to shoes and bags etc. but style is a reflection of the person wearing these. Style is very personal to the individual, it’s like an unspoken language. Some people are more gifted than others at putting things together and looking good all the time. But you need fashion to be stylish lol. So you see how intertwined they are.
What’s a major setback you face as a young designer in the Nigerian fashion industry? I personally think there’s an overflowing abundance of talent on this side of the world, but the main issues in the Nigerian fashion industry are infrastructure, sustainability and professionalism. But the talent is forever present.
What do you believe to be the future of Martino [say in another five years]? The trajectory of my brand and company in the next five years I hope to be linear and progressive. I hope for the brand to have physical locations in countries on 3 different continents
across Africa, Europe etc. and a community of MARTIANS that live their lives out through products from the brand.