The Reale Designer Behind Ebuka’s Agbada To #BAAD2017: Ugochukwu Monye
The internet has been buzzing around with pictures from the fairytale traditional wedding of Banky Wellington and Adesua Etomi, especially the outfit by Ugo Monye which Ebuka Obi-Uchendu wore.
Ugochukwu Monye recently shone some alluring lights on his new collection called the Reale Collection. Obviously reaping the fruit of his labour, Ugo Monye is a Nigerian fashion brand known for its trendsetting styles and attires designed exclusively for fashion-forward individuals. The rising brand has dressed a handful of celebrities including Jidenna, Joke Silva, Alex Ekubo, Gbenro Ajibade, among others.
Monye talks to Guardian Life about the fashion business, going global and making contributions to the Nigerian fashion scene.
How did you get to become a fashion designer?
I am an artist so my parents wanted me to study fine and applied art, but I insisted on becoming a businessman like my father. So I studied business administration. While I was in school, I found myself criticising the things people wore and started drawing how I felt it should be. I naturally just flowed into the art of designing clothes because it came easily to me. I had sewing machines from my mums former business that I started using, hired a tailor in my house, took orders from school and delivered.
After attending a local fashion school, I knew that the next thing was to define my target market.
Due to my background working in a consulting strategy company, it was quite easy for me to point out and I was able to define my target market by defining the quality of clothes I produced. I decided I wanted to make high-quality clothing so that naturally defined the kind of people that would pay for my service. So I started making clothes for a niche market.
Tell us about the Ugo Monye brand.
It started as a unisex brand with more emphasis on female clients because designing for women allowed me to be more creative. Over time, I realised how tough it was dealing with women although they paid well. On the other hand, the menswear line picked up and I became more creative and innovative with men’s style. The men were less demanding, so it was easy to lay more focus on the male line as I was seeing more results in a shorter amount of time.
How would you describe the Ugo Monye client?
Ugo Monye designs and makes corporate, traditional and casual clothing. We are a luxury brand, our typical client is one who desires quality, excellence, professionalism and a great customer experience.
Does the Nigerian fashion scene limit you?
Well, I don’t think the Nigerian fashion scene limits me because it’s not about the scene; it’s about me. In my quest to improve my brand I have sought knowledge from people all over the world including the great Martin Greenfield of Greenfield Clothiers.
How have you applied your ideas of finesse to your latest collection, Reale?
Reale is an Italian word meaning royal, and it encapsulates the essence of the collection. A lot of thought and consultation went into this collection, although the perfectionist in me would say there’s room for improvement. Every process from inception, to illustrations, to the choice of fabric to finishing used, speaks finesse.
Any future global expansion plans?
We don’t want distance to be a barrier for people that want to wear our clothing. Currently, we are making clothes for many people all over the world and we are actually making moves in launching a global presence.
What would you love to contribute to the Nigerian fashion scene?
I am tired of us celebrating mediocrity. I want a designer to come up with a collection and we see originality and the thought process that was put into it. I want us to stop celebrating straight stitches because that should be standard. I want designers to treat fabric and their clients with respect.