‘People are beginning to appreciate local styles more’
Collins Onyemali is the brain behind CEO’S Designers, a one-stop establishment for male outfits, leather works and accessories. Onyemali, who is also into styling, styling consultancy, outfit design and shoe customisation, prides himself on being able to meet all male fashion expectations. A proudly made in Nigeria advocate TOBI AWODIPE spoke to him at his showroom in Sangotedo and he bares his mind on his journey into fashion designing amongst other issues.
When you say CEOs, is it only CEOs you cater to?
Yes, I am a fashion maker for the bosses, Chief Executive Officers and people who appreciate and value good things; this is what it connotes simply.
Our outfit is not for everyone; it is for people who understand taste and quality. Those are the people we are there to serve. That is why we are called the CEO’s Designers.
Why did you decide to go into fashion?
Being a professional at one time and still an executive officer myself, I found out that in our society, CEOs do not have readily available fitted clothes that befit their standards and status and they end up going abroad to get fitted clothes.
I decided to bridge that gap, they do not have to go abroad anymore to spend our Naira to buy clothes.
Instead, they have these products readily available to them at their disposal; it is one of the things that inspired us.
What motivated you to continue in this industry?
Paying more and getting less. It is only in Nigeria that you make compromises on your style. There are several issues one encounters when you patronise a tailor.
First, he is possibly going to give you what you never bargained for, in terms of finishing and so on.
Also, he might not deliver the job to you as at when needed or they give you less quality or badly finished products.
Sometimes to get your clothes, you have to involve the police. All these variables are the reason why I decided to go into fashion, to make it easier for people to patronise made in Nigeria goods and service.
Let’s talk creativity; what is the benchmark of a CEO apparel?
Here, we don’t just make clothes for the sake of wearing clothes. We make functional yet status apparels.
We take our attention to detail seriously as well as the body measurement and structure of the person. Our trademark is strictly tailored to size.
Tailored to size means taking into consideration all the joints and body structure of a person to give you proper fitting.
We have a pre-section where the customer gives us an idea what he wants and his fashion history as well as what he expects of us.
We make a sketch or presentation of that to him based on his own description, once the sketch is approved for production, we take body measurements to ensure the measurement with which the outfit will be produced is suited for that person.
Invariably it will be difficult if you give that person’s shirt to someone else to wear; it will not be the same because it is not tailored to suit that body structure and joint.
What has been the biggest change in Nigeria’s fashion industry today?
These days, a lot of people are beginning to appreciate our local styles. The population of those wearing natives outweighs those wearing foreign attires now.
It is no longer a suit and bowtie affair, you see people going for conferences wearing native.