It appears that I have always aspired more differently than my peers when it comes to style and my fashion career. I studied Fashion Business Management under my mentor Mr David Jones and at the time when there weren’t any prestigious menswear shows in London. For some of you that are oblivious of this, London Fashion Week used to showcase predominantly womenswear. London Mens Collection, which showcases menswear now, has just been around for 7 seasons which amounts to just under 4 years.
On the heels of the monumental and swift success achieved by The British fashion Council with the launch of its own menswear version, I believe the American Council of Fashion Designers saw the light and launched New York Fashion Week ‘mens stand alone shows’ just this July.
Well, the point I’m trying to emphasise is that those days are long gone when the fashion industry reckoned menswear are exceedingly boring or perhaps not very lucrative.
When my label was registered in London in 2003, the trend then was for any British menswear designer who reckons he had what it takes to excite the world of fashion to proceed to shows such as Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy, Premium in Berlin and a couple more in Paris. If you were into denim, your best bet then would have been probably Magic in Vegas or Project New York. However that has changed and menswear designers aren’t sequestered in an unfortunate situation where they are forced to show outside the shores of UK or not at all and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Whilst my peers at the time continued showcasing at under par shows in London, I took the bull by the horn and bravely applied to showcase at Pitti, Florence and ever since then I have showcased in Pitti Uomo on several occasions and on each occasion I discovered the modus operandi of the fashion industry better than the previous time. My label hasn’t showcased at Pitti for many seasons now but I hope we will be back either January or June 2016 as I my experiences at Pitti were positive with regards to garnering accounts. Besides seeking for accounts, Pitti is like a war zone for stylish men. Only those who come to this war with heavy ammunitions dare show their style. If you believed you are stylish then Pitti is where you go to compete with the most stylish individuals out there and I miss that energy so much it hurts.
Back then, Pitti Uomo used to be extremely over subscribed to the extent that the chances of a new label getting in was pretty dim and this was mainly because all the established labels wanted to showcase there. Obviously, the needs of the established ones were priority and until they were sorted, the up and coming ones got no ‘look in’.
My label, Emmy Collins London, got a foot in the door simply because I applied at the time Pitti was desperate to include innovative labels on its exhibitors list. Buyers were getting slightly edgy about their choices being limited to the Ferragamos, Nicole Farhis,
Baldersirinis, Hugo Boss of this world and they made their voices heard. The solution to bring in some fresh innovators had to happen to keep the buyers smiling, after all, it was and still is the buyers world.
The strict rules have been already relaxed when some of my compatriots from Nigeria showcased at Pitti under the umbrella of Stylehouse Files a few seasons ago. However, I wish I could have engaged them in a chat to relay my experience as that could have prevented them from making some of the initial mistakes any designer including myself showcasing at Pitti or any major show for the first time was expected to make.
Hopefully, it wasn’t too much of a shock for them. I did notice though, that more attention was paid to garnering press as against garnering accounts. We the Designers need to have the cash hitting the till more than we need our faces out in the press. I’m already tired of being well acquainted with skint designers with too many press mentions under their belt but no funds to do the next collection.
In summation, I will urge upcoming designers to dream big and to also seek for information before they engage in any show as taking part in the wrong show for a label could cost a huge amount of money. Also, I like them to understand when to go for the money and when to go for the press. If you have a bottomless pit of money to dip into then you can always go for the press as you won’t have to struggle to access funds needed to churn out subsequent collections. Review your situation and act accordingly.There is no ‘one size fits all’ either in fashion styling or the tricky business of fashion.
The London Fashion week Spring/summer 2016 has come and gone, accompanied by the fanfare and top-end street style usually associated with it.
Sadly for me I was unable to participate as I have just gotten back to London after a stint in Nigeria. The fashion calendar is usually a very strict one that once you drop out of step; you might need to miss a season of two to get up to speed with it once more. I`m working furiously to fall back into step next season, autumn winter 16/17 but even that is somewhat doubtful.
I received my swatches for the new season from my favourite suiting fabric suppliers and couldn’t be more chuffed. My brand, Emmy Colllins London, happen to be on the clientele list of two of the most prestigious and steepest suiting and shirting suppliers on the Row. The steepness isn’t coincidental but totally mitigated by the appreciable fact that they offer quality for money. Oh, for those not conversant with the jargons of the industry, by the “Row”, I was referring to Saville
As a man who believes in fairness, I believe it is exceedingly unfair that when you walk into certain wedding receptions, you could hardly tell who the bridegroom is. In contrast, you could literally feel the presence of the bride even if you shut your eyes. My aim is to nip this trajectory in the bud by offering the best wedding suits that money can offer and this is a promise, not just a slogan. It won’t come cheap though but I have witnessed cases where a groom spend far more than what I ask for yet the moment he goes in the midst of five guests, he disappears as you could hardly tell who the groom is amongst them.
Initially, I like to arrange a consultation with the client to tap into his brain and seek understanding of what he might or might not want with regards to fabrics colours, texture, lining, Jacket lengths, pockets, fusing, colour of collar felt et al. I like to reach a consensus on these important issues as quickly as possible before proceeding to design and fabric. Skin colour of the client and location of the wedding must be put into consideration when deciding on fabrics.
I have always been of the stance that the moment you get the fabric wrong, you will struggle to pull off a stunning suit fit for a wedding, so I advice clients to dole out as much as they can afford on fabrics.
My compatriot designer Yemi of KOSIBAH and I have finally kicked off our project whereby he encourages his brides to refer their fiancés to Emmy Collins as he can guarantee the quality of my work. I will also do likewise by nudging the brides of my clients towards Kosiba’s showroom in Camden as I can swear by the quality of his work. Emmy Collins business card will be dropped off at the Kosibah showroom so ask for one whenever you pop in there.
A groom pitches in so much energy, funds and some even get dragged screaming and scratching to the bridal fitting sessions…. it is only fair that the groom gets a bit more out of this deal and the best way to do this is to get him looking properly spruced up on the special day.
Guys, don’t short change yourself, it is your wedding for crying out loud so dress like it.
The price of our suits ranges from £850 depending on fabrics. Please be aware that this could go up to £1500 if you go for the Saville Row quality fabrics, however, the eventual outcome you get from me will cost you three times more if you were to walk in to any of the places at the Row for an appointment and to commission a suit to be made for you.
If you have the groomsmen suits made by us as well, then I will throw in the shirts as added bonus at no extra cost.
This service is strictly by appointment only.For more enquiries,please send email to email@example.com
On a different note, the Elite Model look competition was held last week and I must say that surprisingly, I bumped into more folks who put their most stylish foot forward than I have ever seen at any event in Nigeria.
I have grouped the images into genders. I believe the men nicked it this time but hey, ladies, don’t pull your wigs and throw the kitchen sink at me just yet until I explain.
Let’s go there.
Over the past week I have been re-evaluating what goes in (or doesn’t) into this blog and I have come to the sad realisation that I need to post articles that will stimulate international consumption as against one targeted mainly at Nigerians. The reason for this isn’t far-fetched. In as much as I love Nigeria and discussing Nigerian societal issues and her creative industry, I’m indeed extremely bored with discussing folks who will rather be big fishes in tiny ponds called Nigeria as against improving their craft to enable them compete beyond the shores of Nigeria and Africa in general.
When I design a garment, the first question I ask myself is “would that particular piece compete fairly if put side by side with a Tom Ford, YSL, Prada or Vivienne Westwood pieces in terms of quality of tailoring and design”. For whatever it is worth, I think it is fair to mention that I employ the services of same factory with Vivienne Westwood! Yes, I do.YUP! I’m not being boastful here but it is what it is.
When, I listen to most Nigerian artistes, I can’t help but wonder if they aspire to improve their vocals to the level where they can, at some point in their individual careers, be genuinely adjudged to be on same level with Teddy Pendergras, Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton, Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, Usher…..the list is endless.
Talking of Beyoncé, most of our so called artistes simply aspire to go toe to toe with her with regards to who could display more flesh but then never bother to improve their vocals and choreography so they can compete with her ilks. Indeed, almost all of them have already convinced themselves that Beyoncé’s vocal quality is unattainable so they don’t even bother. It is quite cringe worthy seeing Tiwa Savage who is supposed to be our own version of Beyoncé and other so called established artistes nicking “Shoki” dance steps from Lil Kesh who popped onto the scene just yesterday. HUH???? What happened to initiating your own dance steps or getting professional choreographers? How do they think the Beyoncés of this world do it? So sad!
The story is equally pessimistic or even worse so in the world of fashion. You have a fashion industry which is bingeing on shows but has never spared an inkling of thought for quality manufacturing. Nigeria’s longest running fashion show, Fashion and design Week I believe is scheduled for this November. On a conservative calculation, I would estimate that over the past 5 seasons, this show has gulped, about N400-500 million or thereabout. This fund has simply been squandered on putting up appearances with no structure on ground to show for it. What we lack isn’t the money but the common sense and professionalism required. I heard it said once that common sense is actually quite uncommon and I’m hard pressed to argue.
I once held a meeting with a major stakeholder to point out what should have been very glaring, however my words fell on deaf ears. Obanye na ofu nti osi na nke ozo dapu. Basically, we are still sequestered within this ugly situation where not much will happen to elevate the industry! In the interim, between this year`s Fashion and Design Week and next November(Next Fashion And Design Week) when more tens of millions of Naira will be wasted yet again.
I’m not so chuffed to say this but then, it has to be said, so here it is! If we stay on this present trajectory, the Nigerian fashion industry will never become competitive in a million years! In Africa, YES but the rest of the world? You must be kidding me!
At the risk of been labelled arrogant, I must state without mincing words that what the top echelon of the Nigerian fashion industry refer to as quality doesn’t even begin to measure up to what I, Emmy Collins and the rest of the fashion world deem to be the mere basics. I’m quite aware that these are strong words but I hope the folks these words are directed towards will prove me wrong and get off their high horses and venture to make positive steps towards identifying solutions to this major hurdle which must be scaled.
In conclusion, I have decided that being an international designer who meets folks from all works of life, creative sectors, countries, religion, colours, sexualities on daily basis, it will be fair and logical to carry these folks along whenever I decide to post articles on this platform. Since fashion speaks the language most folks understand, my area of concentration will be solely fashion and street style.
I have given quite an ample amount of my time and even money to improve the Nigerian fashion industry but the time has now come when I must realise that it is difficult to change folks who steadfastly refuse to change.
I wish the Nigerian fashion industry the very best and will gladly contribute my quota whenever I have the trust that the stakeholders are willing to embrace genuine quality contributions.
The stakeholders know exactly how to reach me whenever they are willing to move things in the right direction.
Okay! It is critiquing time.!
The usual supply of winners and losers has unfortunately been disrupted as my editor and I have been swamped all week.I apologise for that.
In the interim,I have decided to post images from my styling game over the past week.
I hope you like them
I just felt the need to check the stripes here.The badge was a free gift from a vintage store so I thought to myself “what the heck?stick it on the damn waist coat for added effect”.
Over the past week I have been to different interesting locations and hung with different interesting folks.More importantly I met up again with Soho George who happens to rank amongst the most stylish and authentic 73yr old out there in London and the entire Uk if not the world.The only occasion or occasions I have witnessed men in their 70s and 80s approaching style from such original perspective was during the times I showcased at Pitti Uomo,Florence or Premier Vision Paris.
Well,find enclosed some of the images below.
I have loads more photos so I will likely post more tomorrow.
Have a great day.
Most of the pieces in these images could be made on made via made to measure so contact me us firstname.lastname@example.org for all enquiries.
I met Yemi of KOSIBAH about 10 years ago and since then, both labels,Emmy Collins London and KOSIBAH have featured a couple of times in the same shows. It is apt to affirm that I and Yemi retain a mutual respect and love for each other’s work. We both share a common belief in the basic fact that quality tailoring is sacrosanct in the fashion industry.
Well, I have good news to bring to you guys today. A couple years ago or thereabout, I was at a party at the Mbadiwe’s on Idowu Taylor in Victoria Island. You see, a number of the Mbadiwes were Emmy Collins London clients when the former showroom was situated at 43 Awolowo Road and we have maintained a good relationship ever since. Anybody who is acquainted with Lagos will tell you that the Mbadiwes know how to throw lavish parties.
At this party, I was ushered to a table were two gorgeous and convivial ladies were already seated. I realised I had critiqued one of the ladies on this platform but as luck would have it, I did send her to the winners den on that occasion. Phewwwww! Well, we struck a conversation about the blog and she was curious as to why I went out on a limb to launch such a controversial blog considering the risk of being labelled a hater or even worse. I explained to them that paucity of information within the Nigerian creative circle, the ever growing poverty mindset amongst Nigerians/bloggers and the entire negative societal issues were all I needed to reach a decision to that effect. I was also adamant that the story had to be told from a different narrative to counter the way other blogs told our story by passing us off as people only fixated on weaves, immorality, cars, eyelashes, pouting, bags (fake or gbanjo) et al.
It is quite important to point out that the two ladies were very surprised as it was the TOTAL opposite of what they had expected. They were well chuffed when they saw the perspective behind the blog. And, Oh! I did show them a few dance steps as well. O yes o. I love to dance when I’m in the right company and they were the ultimate right company! There has been so many myths doing the rounds about how strict and insatiable I am! Lol! For those who wish to know, I’m not actually that strict. My daughter will gladly inform you that her mum is four times more of a disciplinarian than I am.
However I’m not oblivious of the fact that if you want to sort out any Nigerian scourge, you must go in hard on people. That’s why Buhari seems to have achieved more in 3 months than GEJ did in six years! Because Jonathan oozed out the wrong vibes. His body language ultimately told folks around him not to take him seriously. Dem no born you well to try that one with Buhari.
Oh damn! I deviated from the gig and the two awesomely positive ladies! Well, as the party was nearing its conclusion, one of the ladies who was a top executive at Etislat called Adia Sowho, suggested that there might be a means of monetising and expanding the reach of the message I was so resolute to spread. This blog was never about money but wouldn’t it be ridiculous of me to reject any genuine opportunity to make legitimate money through it?
We were supposed to arrange a meeting to reach a consensus on the way forward. That meeting didn’t happen for certain reasons, so I believed it would not happen but I was proven wrong. On a certain day I received this call from a number not listed on my phone contacts and the dude on the other end informed me that Adia had forwarded my number to him.
In summation, the project now known as “Style 101 with Emmy Collins” was birthed after that phone call and today it has become a reality.
I hereby ask you to support this project via subscription. If you have enjoyed this blog and appreciated all the hours I have invested to shine needed light to relevant issues that have become vital in our collective realisation of our full potentials, I then implore you to demonstrate that by subscribing to this service.
Through this service you will receive daily audio tips on style. I will also review the red carpet style of the of mostly Nigerian celebrities.
Subscription is as easy as simply texting “style” to 32224 on your Etislat line.
The next step forward will be visuals and then I believe things will get really very interesting so I need you guys to show me some love because even the mighty Emmy Collins could do with a bit of love sometimes. *winks*.
Etisalat has always been a hub for innovative thinkers, so I feel so honoured that they view this service as financially viable.
Going further,let`s see what last week had in stock.
This is just a quick post as I`m already late for a meeting.
I was gonna postpone this post til later in the day however I`m not unmindful of the fact that if I dont post it now.It may not happen again.
Anyway,if you have a minute,tell me what you think of my style game over the past week!
A worrisome percentage of Nigerians, I have noticed to my chagrin, have a built-in sense of entitlement. For instance, it is commonplace for the friends and family members of anyone who rises to some form of prominence to expect “benefits” and “leg ups” from them. They believe, albeit fallaciously, that this person owes them something. Well, I have news for people with such mindsets. No one owes you anything! What people do or do not do for you is entirely at their own discretion so quit moaning and get on with your life!
And oh, this one is a funny one. Some folks in Nigeria believe that the only time you have rendered them any sort of help is when you part with some cash.To these shallow minded gang, offering tips that could enable them become independent financially, isn’t deemed as offering a leg up. They would stupidly dispose of such tips accordingly and never bother to use them. These group can be aptly tagged as the give-us-the-fish-don’t-teach-
Reasonable minded friends will help if they genuinely believe you love them for who they are and not because of what you can get off them. If (this one is a big ‘if’) it is convenient and within their means to help you, most of them will. Sometimes you might reckon they are swimming in cash however they might have undergone financial predicaments which they didn’t bother to share with you either because they are still hurting from it or because they simply think it is too personal to share.
When I left Nigeria a long time ago, I left behind a few friends who were desperate to leave Nigeria as well. However I could only help just one of them because he was the one that really wanted to leave and worked towards achieving that aim. In life things don’t just materialise simply because we wish them to but because we get off our lazy asses and set things in motion. It is all about grit.
My buddy had a very low paying job at Aero Contractors as he had barely left high school, yet, with his limited means, he managed to search for all the information he needed to obtain a visa. However, he needed a letter of invitation which, luckily enough, my then dutch girlfriend, Nicole who overheard the conversation, offered to help even before I got off the phone with my friend. Well, before you could say ‘”Jack Robinson”, the letter of invitation with copies of Nicole’s passport, my passport and Nicole’s company registration documents were faxed over and my friend hopped on the plane to Holland. We accommodated him for about a month or thereabout and facilitated his securement of alternative residence and from then, he was on his own. Today he has his masters degree from a top American University, carries a dutch passport and has the job of his dreams. He now travels the world and lodges in the best hotels. I’m very proud of him and happy I was there for him when he needed me. Being over-dependent on people is just a turn off and marks one as physically and mentally weak.
I could have rendered a hand to my other friends if I wasn’t so bogged down with my own issues. Some of these friends or former friends still believe till date that I preferred the one I helped to them but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I helped that particular friend because he didn’t fold his hands and expected manna from either me or heaven. He got off his ass and did what was within his capability to do for himself until he got stuck and then asked for help.The lesson here is
(A) Don’t be too quick to ask for help
(B) People will be more inclined to help you once they ascertain you are not entirely dependant on them
(C) Any goodwill offered to you by a friend is not an entitlement.
Now,let`s get on with the fashion bit of this article.
Linda and beneficiaries
In life only cowards shy away from expressing their honestly held opinion just because they could be proven wrong. My conviction has always been this, “when I’m wrong I’m wrong but when I’m right I’m right”. Now, stick with me and shortly you will get the drift of what I’m on about.
Last week Wednesday precisely, I went out on a limb and critiqued Linda Ikeji’s penchant for posting articles that utterly debase moral values and infect the minds of her impressionable and uninformed readers with rubbish. Well, in response, of course, Linda put out this image barely 24hrs later. The image here indicates that she is working towards empowering her readers too as against just dishing tens of thousands of Naira to them. Hmmmmmmm, infecting the minds of hundreds of thousands and empowering tens? It is still a step in the right direction regardless, albeit paradoxical.
This blog isn’t about maligning folks! It has never been and it will never be! However, if expressing the hidden and sacred truth is erroneously, wilfully and conveniently translated as ‘maligning’ by folks in certain quarters, then I can’t legislate against that, can I?
In Nigeria, a lot of people are so unbelievably cowardly when it pertains to expressing their opinions so these reactions shouldn’t shock anyone. Whatever I post on this platform are already popular opinions held very staunchly by millions of Nigerians who are too scared to even express them outside their circle friends. So, I, Emmy Collins, deserve a national honour and I’m NOT even kidding about it for daring to speak my mind in a clime where it is strongly discouraged . SERIOUSLY!
I will end this by opining that “Yes”! This is a very positive move but Linda must and should go down a few notches with the percentage of trash she posts. What she posts on her blog carries more weight than whatever money she spends on empowering these ladies. For instance, just about 15 ladies have been selected to benefit from this initiative which is all fine and dandy. But just imagine the hundreds of thousands that have the misfortune of being daily infected by the whorish Kardashians and sexually inspired articles Linda posts. Think about it for a minute.
I know you will read this so Let’s make deal, Linda. Here it is. If you post just 20% trash and 80% substance, I promise you will never hear “suummmm” from me again. You can take my word to the bank.Believe you me,it isn`t fun for me to write or spend a minute on you or your “image maker” ok I really meant bleached out sister,loll.
I’m happy to be one of the few folks that have been publicly against Linda’s poverty stricken mentality and I totally believe that this positive initiative is a result of my insistent attack on Linda and her family’s retarded mindset, so I deserve a pat on the back on this one as well! Yes o.
Linda. Ngwa. Go on. Turn the trash posting down a notch abeg because that is the only way you can genuinely thump your chest and say “yes, I’m giving back” not “giving back via one door and taking even more through another door”.
Usually, Linda would set off her foul mouthed, bleached out sister on me, but I’m glad she has realised that it doesn’t work. She has thankfully charted a different course, which I welcome wholeheartedly.
Sorry for boring you guys with Linda’s gist again this week o! However, I felt compelled to kowatiate/expanciate after viewing this image. Again, I apologise.
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