10 February 2013

Nigeria: I Made My First Outfit At the Age of Six


WEGO clothing line is one of the biggest names in the Abuja fashion scene. In this chat with Kehinde Ajobiewe and Uche Uduma, the Creative Director, Nwaego Muoma, who also owns a fashion school throws more light on her life and fashion label.

You run a very successful fashion house here in Abuja, what is your success story?

We have been on in Abuja since 2008, and since then, we have grown. I started from home like most people do, in 2009, I moved out and I had my first show in town and we have been able to grow our clothing line, we have added the training school where we train aspiring fashion designers.

The school actually started in March 2012, so we are about a year now, but all in all, it has been good, we have also been able to break into the international market. I did my training in London, so I was able to get a few clients overseas too before I started, so all in all, between here and in the UK, the brand is growing and we thank God.

What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion to me, is a way of life; it's all about how you want to look, feel and look good.

Can you give a brief history of your academic qualification?

I did my first and second degrees in Journalism, marketing, advertising; I never had a degree in fashion. But while I was doing my second degree at London Metropolitan University, I enrolled in London College of Fashion, which is one of the most prestigious fashion schools.

I was running both courses together whenever I am on holidays, I make sure I enroll and do my fashion courses. When I finished, I realized that I wanted to practice fashion designing more than journalism or any other thing, so I just started and it's been wonderful.

When did you realize you wanted to be a designer?

I would say from when I was little, as soon as I was able to talk and do a few things; it has always been a passion to me. I remember the first outfit I made when I was about 6 years old, that day, I looked at my mum's very expensive Swiss Lace, and decided to make an outfit out of it.

By the time my mum came back, she saw me on my grandmother's machine. I had already cut the lace and made a simple blouse from the pattern she had, I was sewing the skirt when she came in. She almost killed me because that fabric was her most expensive lace and I didn't know.

That was my first outfit, and I wore it and my younger sister wore the same outfit until we eventually dashed it out. And since then, I have always been interested in fashion.

How would you describe Abuja fashion scene?

Abuja fashion scene is coming up but it's not that vibrant, you can't really compare it to Lagos and a few designers are doing well in Abuja, but we need to get people to appreciate Abuja designers more because people tend to want to look at Lagos and go there to have their dresses made. Granted, you have a lot of people that sew in Abuja, that doesn't mean that they are fashion designers, because when you go in-depth into fashion designing, it involves a lot of things which we don't do here in Abuja.

Lagos people are really trying to compete with the international fashion designers by studying the fashion trend, the international trend, what people want, what will appeal to not only the local market but the international market. And we don't have much of that in Abuja.

I think that is the problem, also, if you are running a fashion house, what training do you have? If you just woke up and open a place where you sew, you can't really say you are a fashion designer. We don't have very good professional fashion designers in Abuja like they do in Lagos.

What are some of your achievements as a designer?

Being in the business since 2008 and getting to where I am, being able to train people, from last year till date. We have trained 30 students and that is a great achievement to me. Why it is a great achievement to me is that for you to be able to train 30 people in fashion the right way is a big deal in the industry.

Because one problem a lot of designers are having is that of skilled labour. Most of the people we want to use here are not properly trained. My vision for the school has always been to train people and encourage young fashion designers to go into the fashion business the right way, because if they do that, things will be done properly.

Talking about your label, what do you specialize in?

We do women's wear, we do English and African wears.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Anywhere and everywhere, I may be driving to work and see something that really ticks and make something from it. I like watching a lot of epic movies because I pick a lot of things from there and I appreciate other people's culture, now I'm trying to look at other local fabrics apart from the popular ones everybody knows.

What do you like best about designing?

It makes me happy; I can design from morning till the next morning. At times, people say that I work too much, but when I'm designing or when I'm working on a particular piece I'm relaxing because when I'm not doing my work, I get bored.

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