Fashion says who you are without having to speak – Ayobami Oladapo
Ayobami Oladapo is the creative director, StatementByBami, a fashion brand based in Lagos, a designer and a model who won the AMVA Runway Fashion Show at this year’s Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award.
Ayobami had her primary and secondary education in Lagos before proceeding to study Banking and Finance at the Afe Babalola University in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.
In this interview with ENIOLA DANIEL, she spoke about her journey in the industry, among others.
What’s your favourite part about being a fashion designer?
My favourite part of being a fashion designer is seeing my designs come to life just the way I imagined them from sketching to cuts, sewing and fitting.
Seeing people appreciate my work, as much as I do is also an amazing feeling that I can never get used to it.
What’s your greatest strength as a fashion designer?
My greatest strength is being able to give my client maximum satisfaction from the services we are offering. They are the reason that I keep creating and it’s a major thing for me that at all costs, every client that requests our service should be satisfied.
How do you feel about winning the AMVA Runway Fashion Show?
I’m so elated and I feel really blessed to win the AMVCA Runway Fashion Show. A lot of effort and time was put into creating the outfits and I’m glad it was all worth it.
What made you stand out in the competition?
I believe my designs were interpreted perfectly and well-defined according to the information given to us regarding each category. Looking back at the looks of Zagg and Pepsi, the brand colours were well incorporated into the outfits.
What types of designs do you enjoy working with the most?
I enjoy working on designs for my ready-to-wear collections because it gives me the opportunity to be flexible with my choice of fabric, style and fit. You can go all out as much as you want without restrictions.
What’s your greatest achievement as a fashion designer?
Winning the AMVCA and Pepsi Runway competitions constitute my greatest achievements as a fashion designer so far. I believe it’s the dream of fashion designers to be recognised for their works on platforms such as this.
What ethics are important for a fashion designer?
Being knowledgeable about things that will enable growth is important. Whatever it is that you can learn to grow and make progress should be a priority. You have to believe in yourself and in your craft, I can’t emphasise this enough.
You have to put yourself out there, work hard and be dedicated
How do you stay up-to-date on the latest fashion trends?
I always keep up with fashion pages, top fashion influencers and brands to stay up to date with trends. I watch fashion shows, including fashion reality shows. They help broaden my creative mind and enable me to see things from another perspective.
Tell us about your design influences
Everything influences my design, especially knowledge.
The more skills you have, or knowledge you have about fashion, the more you can do with a design. My personal style and creativity, and inspiration from top designers I look up to influence my designs. During my days in school, I would always cut and hand-sew outfits made for me by my mum’s seamstress and that was where my love for fashion designing started.
What are your favourite trends in fashion, both in the past and present?
Wide-leg pants, fringing, feathers and corsets.
What’s your view of the Nigerian fashion industry?
The Nigerian fashion industry has grown a lot over the years. It contributes about 36- 37% of e-commerce revenue in Nigeria. I am glad designers are doing more by putting the fashion industry in Nigeria on the map and it’s exciting to be part of that.
Explain your process for working with a disgruntled client.
The first thing is to remain calm while dealing with a disgruntled client, ask exactly what makes them dissatisfied with your services, take the feedback and do the needful by working on it. Do a better job to satisfy such clients.
How do you handle criticism?
I try not to personalise it or go too hard on myself. I take whatever feedback, find the loopholes, work on them and move forward.
Tell us about an important lesson you learned about working in the fashion industry.
I have learned that one can never know it all, always seek to know and get more information to help you in your fashion journey, stay true to your niche and be good at it.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion to me means an expression of one’s self in what you wear down to the tiniest detail. Fashion says who you are without having to speak.
Explain your process for selecting fabrics.
While sketching or creating a new design, the type of fabric to be used plays a major role; it can either make or mar the outfit. After the sketch is done, the fabrics are then sourced to achieve the desired look.
In your opinion, what are some important skills or traits for fashion designers?
A creative mind, a good eye for detail, hard and smart work
Why did you choose to pursue a career as a fashion designer?
In my 300 Level in university, I’d always re-cut, re-style and hand-sew what my mum’s seamstress would make for me if she never got the designs right. Slowly my love for styling and creating designs began to spring up.
Shortly after graduation, with the help of my mum, I started training with a tailor for basic knowledge in sewing, which lasted for a few months.
During my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) year in Port Harcourt, River State, I started training with another tailor after my service work for the day. I made outfits for my fellow corps members, friends and they loved it, that itself brewed up confidence in me.
I saved up to attend a proper fashion school in Lagos and that was the point where I realised that I wanted to go into fashion design fully and put in the work, I definitely do not regret that decision.