27 January 2013

Nigeria: 'I Love to Look Smart and Casual'


Yusuf Kolawole Kudus is a talented designer who has had so many achievements to his credit. In this interview with Kehinde Ajobiewe, the Lagos-based Creative Director/CEO of Kola Kudus Couture, an African inspired fashion brand for men's clothing and accessories, opens up on his life and business.

Why fashion designing?

Fashion design is my passion, and it is something I do effortlessly and I enjoy doing.

Tell us more about your designs, what kinds of wears do you make?

We major in African-inspired designs for men, which we refer to as "Urban African". Our cloth depicts contemporary clothing, which is a mix of African ascetics using western technology.

What inspires your designs?

My designs are inspired mostly by my immediate environment, and also metaphysically when I transcend into the world of form.

What kinds of wears will I find most in your personal wardrobe?

I love to look smart and casual. So, you definitely would be seeing a lot of African-inspired business casuals for men in my closet.

Can we know more about you, and your educational background?

I am married with a child. I went to the Air Force Comprehensive School, Ibadan, and I attended the University of Lagos, where I got a degree in Philosophy. I won N3 million recently at the Enterprise Development Centre where I did a course sponsored by Diamond Bank. I studied Fashion Design and Production at the London College of Fashion,and I went to the Central Saint Martins, London, to study Personal Styling. Also, I studied Sales Management at the City University, London, and I went to the Nobel Afrik, Lagos, where I learnt dress-making in 2006.

What challenges have you had to overcome?

There are a whole lot of challenges that small businesses face in Nigeria, and these include poor funding, lack of proper work/business infrastructure and environment, and human resources. Building a fashion brand that an average Nigerian would love to reckon with in the midst of international designers is another challenge.

What is the response of Nigerians to native fashion?

With much awareness, creativity and quality coming into play, traditional fashion is in vogue, and it is definitely going to stand the test of time.

As a designer, what is your definition of fashion?

Fashion is creativity merged with functionality and translated to cloth.

What stands you out from the crowd?

My design aesthetics, love and passion for what I do.

Which material do you prefer working with, and why?

I work with quite a number of fabrics, but of late I have been trying my hands more on Adire, Aso Oke and woven sacks.

Who are your clienteles?

They are young, urban, contemporary men between the ages of 20 to 50.

Tell us about your latest designs...

My latest design is a collection I am working on called "Woven Thread", to be shown at the International Fashion Showcase in February at the London Fashion Week, where I would be representing Nigeria, amongst other six designers picked by Style-House files.

What would you say qualified you for the show?

I guess my collection review and all earned me that, and the grace of God.

Have you won any award to your credit?

I was nominated for future awards as Best Designer. I was also nominated for Best Designer 2008 by Dynamix Youth Award.

Have you displayed your wears at any fashion show?

Yes, I have attended Arise Fashion Week, MTN Lagos Fashion Design Week, and Lagos Style Week.

What is your advice for those who may want to be in your shoes?

You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

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