columnBy Nseobong Okon-Ekong
Lagos — Nigeria's top UK-based fashion designer, Wale Adeyemi continues to break new grounds as he opened his platform of support for the on-going Nokia First Chance Project, an initiative of Reflux productions. Young, gentle and good looking Wale has a passion for his new label and hopes to use it to realise his vision for the Nigerian youth, saying it was the reason he endorsed the project.
Wale Adeyemi has made clothes for popular names in the music and sports industry. Some of these people are Craig David, Usher, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Victoria and David Beckham, and Neo. "I've got my own clothing line in about 150 stores in the UK. It's been a lot of hard work. I think one of the most important things is having a dream and a vision that makes you keep sticking to that dream. Remain persistent, don't try to divert. Once you have a goal, just make sure you abide by it. It's possible for anyone to achieve what he/she wants to achieve in life in any chosen path as long as you are determine, he said.
What started as a childhood love has become a huge revenue earner. "Yeah, since I was young, I've always been into clothing and I just used to love buying clothes all the time. That was my thing, but I did not think about business. I used to think one day I'll work in a really nice clothes shop and own my own label, but I couldn't tell my dad, so I did little window dressing and I realized it wasn't enough. Then someone spoke to me about Fashion Design and I was thinking it was too far out of my reach, so I just kind of did it as a hobby, then turned it into a career, then business".
Wale is on a hip ride that he is not about to disembark from soon. As his fame grows, so does the feeling of achievement that comes with it. I've won various awards notably The Nigerian Business Achievement Award and HiTV Multicultural Award. But I think the biggest achievement for me is seeing a large group of people in the UK everyday wear my clothing everywhere; on the bus, in the subway, on the street's a great feeling for me. I can't really stop and explain that feeling. Even now I still get buzzed. Not like am used to it, I still get excited when I see some of those things around".
Although, he enjoys the fact that his clothing line is being accepted by more and more people across the cultural divide of the UK, he has to contend with his own compatriots who would "rather buy a Ralph Lauren or something else and sometimes, that's the kind of mentality you have to deal with". But, he is hopeful and cheerful, knowing that the doubting Thomases of today may turn faithful adherents tomorrow. "I'm hoping this will change. What I'm doing in the UK is making a difference and I'm meeting quite a number of people. My parents wanted me to study law at Oxford, but I went to Oxford to give them a talk on fashion, so I've been there."
Besides his intention of reaching to Nigerian youths through this project, Wale sees it as an opportunity to satisfy his interest in music. "Jazz Black brought me into this because he knows I love music and I love working with music. Mostly I do a lot of commercials and stuff as well. I also do branding with blue chip companies in the UK but my heart lies in music."