posted by on General

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As a fashion designer I subscribe to fashion updates from BOF (Business of Fashion). BOF serves as an essential resource site for fashion creatives and entrepreneurs. Whilst sifting through my emails I bumped into this article Stop Waiting for the Perfect Moment to Invest in Africa penned by my dear friend Omoyemi Akerele.

First and foremost I must kick off this article by reiterating my stance that Yemi as I know her is perhaps the only individual busting her backside to propel Nigerian fashion sector to the next stage. However, I respectfully and unequivocally beg to differ with her when it comes to her manner of approach and understanding of how we can get to our desired destination. I`m not oblivious of the fact that whatever is left of my skinny… you know what… will be chewed for this article by a certain demographic who never take kindly to any sort of criticism whatsoever but I beg to be heard before being crucified.

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Now, on what premise or premises do I disagree with Yemi`s take on the best way forward for African fashion? Well for starters, I will pick a few assertions from the article that caught my attention and endeavour to a proffer a superior argument. Please do understand that I deem this as a friendly conversation which I strongly encourage any fashion aficionado with the progress of African fashion in mind to participate in. We might entertain contradicting solutions to the problem but I sincerely hope we all want the same thing which is Africa`s advancement in the global fashion industry.I`m UK based but my love for Nigeria fashion industry can`t be questioned.The issue isn`t and has never been absence of potentials,the issue has been and still is our inability to adequately tap into the available potentials.

My rebuttal to this article was rendered inevitable by many points raised by Yemi but two took the biscuit. The safe and selfish path for me to tow with regards to this article would have been to just ignore the flaws in the article and move on but then the patriotic side of me wouldn`t allow that, hence here we are. The assertions in question are listed below:

(A) “No doubt, there may sometimes be an issue of disparity around price points or quality, but I believe that every label was given a chance at some point”. Now, anyone with the slightest inkling about the operational method of top end stores across the globe would appreciate the simple logic that these stores DON`T engage sentiments in their business dealings. Their overheads are so humongous that they can`t even be bothered to get themselves entangled in sentiments; quality and bottom-line is everything to these chaps at the top echelons of the fashion industry. The possibility that the CEO of a departmental store such as Saks 5th Avenue would lower their standards just to accommodate Africans is at best delusional; it will never happen not even in a million years. It is either that stocking your label will lead to cash hitting their tills or it is out of the store. It is that simple and straight forward. And any buyer that cultivates the unappreciated habit of stocking the wrong labels will be given the boot faster than he can say fashion and all buyers are well aware of this fact hence their major consideration before purchasing from designers is quality and saleability. It is common knowledge on the British fashion industry scene that every single square foot in Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nics, Liberty et al, is expected to generate certain level of funds or questions will be asked which could lead to someone’s job flying out the window or a concessionaire’s contract not been renewed .

Considering the fact that Yemi has conceded that quality of garments from African designers are sometimes not at the level it should be, I’m hard pressed to understand her view-point then. Like the saying goes “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands”. Quality is sacrosanct in top end fashion. Actually, even consumers of low end fashion expect and demand certain level of quality as well hence one can walk into London Topshop or Debenhams and expect to walk out with garments of good enough quality to be worn to social events.

This is not a fundamental human rights issue that we are dealing with here but business, so indulging sentiments is a non-starter. The stores are not charity organisations or governmental agencies; they are businesses that require positive turnover to stay afloat. To be honest, I was gobsmacked to read that Yemi was indeed circuitously requesting that quality be lowered specifically for the Africans. Scaling down quality for the benefit of African designers would erroneously suggest that African designers are unable to attain the standard acceptable to these stores. Let me categorically affirm that Africans can and must raise their standard to match what is obtainable at floor of these stores. This is very doable once we are in the appropriate headspace. It is time to grab things by the scruff of the neck and quit playing the victim. We victimise ourselves by not realising the power and potential we possess.

Nigerians are officially recognised as the fourth highest spenders at Selfridges, London. Now that is economic power to tap into if you ask me. Whatever happened to the quote “Be so good that they can`t ignore you”? Yes, they might be ignoring Africa now but as soon as Africa puts on its creative hat and applies itself to understanding and aligning the quality and designs of its goods to international requirements, these chaps will be forced to have a rethink.

Stella Jean was mentioned in this article. This might be a hard pill to swallow but Stella Jean has taken what was originally, okay, what we claim to be ours and made hers and we can’t do diddly squat about it. She owns it now! The Ankara fabrics were specifically designed by Vlisco, Hemlmond, The Netherlands for the consumption of the African market so even though Vlisco is manufactured in Holland, it is solely for export to Africa so it was fair for us to claim Ankara as ours but that was before Stella Jean popped onto the scene with those awesome and professionally designed and tailored pieces.

Stella Jean Fall 2014 unway

 

The quality of Stella Jean`s tailoring is second to none hence she has been embraced. Secondly, she recognised that Ankara (Holland wax) is so beautifully and elaborately designed that all  a designer has to worry about is ensuring that his/her tailoring is top-notch as opposed to employing the use of excess embellishment to conceal poor tailoring. I have never encountered motifs or other sorts of embellishment on her pieces. Her selling points are her tailoring and wearable designs.

At this juncture, I dare say we shouldn`t beg for chances; we must go in and forcefully take the chances that we deserve by churning out awe inspiring pieces. If we want this, we have to snatch it because it wont be given on a platter of gold. This is achievable but we must believe in our ability. No more grovelling, please.

(B) “On the production side, I strongly believe that the global fashion industry is here to stay in Africa. North-African countries like Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt are already firmly positioned as production hubs, while Ethiopia, Kenya and Mauritius are increasingly sought after and Ghana is being tapped as Western Africa’s apparel manufacturing destination”. This one right here got me so emotional because no where did she bother to mention Nigeria here and rightly so. I have repeatedly mentioned to anyone who cares to listen including Yemi that you can’t have a fashion industry without a fashion manufacturing industry; they go hand in hand.

It is common sight to come across manufacturing factories from the aforementioned African countries at Premiere Vision, Paris, Milano Unica, Premium Berlin, Pitti Uomo et al aggressively seeking business from fashion brands but sadly, I have never come across one from Nigeria and the question begging to be answered is WHY? Before you answer that question, I need to remind you that we are supposedly the greatest economy in Africa with huge manpower.

The least required of Nigeria are CMT units (cut, make and trim units) that should be able to do short runs of about 200 pieces of 10 or 20 pieces per design or thereabout and then outsource larger volumes. I have researched and I’m yet to discover any quality CMT unit in Nigeria where a designer can take his patterns and fabrics and expect them to be interpreted into world standard garments and until we have that within our borders, all these efforts to generate press will be in futility. For those who have not embraced this fact yet, I say to you “In fashion, quality craftsmanship is life”.

During my 6 month stint as a student of a fashion business management course, I was taught by my mentor Mr David Jones, a man with about 50 years fashion experience under his belt, that generating press is like two-edged sword so you must ensure you have what is worth showcasing to the press before you let them encroach into your business. Why do I say this? Well, in as much as this article might convince a few connected individuals to give Nigeria a look-in, my conviction is that we should be careful of inviting them in till we are ready and have something to showcase. We must be living in cloud cuckoo land if we  seriously believe that we are ready! Inviting the press before we are ready is tantamount to committing hara-kiri from my standpoint.

Even though my label is British registered, I will always engage in any constructive conversation that will improve the Nigerian and African fashion industry as it will be my pride to one day manufacture a garment in Nigeria which I can be very proud of.

I totally stand behind this article in its entirety as it presents questions as to what the African and particularly Nigerian Fashion industry has done to deserve what it is requesting or shall I say begging for. The obscene amount of funds we have wasted on and will continue to waste on shows in Nigeria would have put structures on ground to propel the present generation and the coming one to fashion Eldorado.

Somewhere in the article, it was opined that the big players in the global fashion industry are of the mindset that it might only be lucrative for the next generation but not this one to invest in the African fashion industry. Well, my take on that is that if we begin to nip wastage in the bud and use whatever is available to lay tangible structures NOW, our next generation will be the ones investing in American/European industries just like the Chinese and not the other way round. With adequate structures on ground, our next generation of designers and investors in fashion will rule the word but then we must rid ourselves of this mindset that we always need the world to survive.

When we experienced the outbreak of Ebola, we blamed America for not originating a vaccine for it meanwhile we have African scientists and Governments who should have seen this coming and worked on a vaccine. Remember this was a reality about 30 years ago in Zaire.

Prior to about a decade ago, no one worth his salt in the global fashion industry would spare a thought for China. China was then regarded as where knock-offs and other low end goods could be manufactured at very cheap rate. However fast forward to today and they have totally earned respect. They have Angelica Cheung, a very fashionable and savvy editor of Vogue China in the forefront of  protagonists pushing for Chinese designers to be accepted on the global stage but this push is based on the structures they have laid hence they are making headway unlike the Africans. The Met Gala benefiting the Metropolitan Arts Museum in NYC was notably themed China: Through The Looking Glass – in recognition of China`s influence on Western fashion.

rihanna-vogue

 

The bitter truth is that what we are seeking for is taken and NEVER given so we must go all out and exemplify the hunger in us to forcefully take it.

I do organise fashion workshops where I can assure you that participants will confirm that 65% of the energy and time I spend on this workshop is always geared towards encouraging attendees to improve on the quality of garments they churn out. I strongly frown at the notion that the world owes Africa anything or is going to simply offer Africa/Nigeria a place on the world stage to be sold to these attendees on whose mindsets I have spent countless hours working on.

It is worth revealing that London College of Fashion, Central Saint. Martins, FIT New York, Istituto Marangoni et al churn out thousands of fashion graduates each year that the European and American fashion industries are expected to absorb so Africa is expected to cater for its own likewise. I refuse to believe that the problem is money because I have witnessed money wasted very insanely on nonsensical shows that were not expected propel us from point A to point B right from the onset. We organise shows with no set goals in mind but just for show’s sake.

What I genuinely believe we have achieved over the years is simply the ability to show off and at that nothing tangible worth serving this generation of designers talk more of the next one.

Recognition will definitely arrive when we have gotten our act together. We did begin to solve the Boko Haram scourge the moment we brainstormed constructively with other African leaders instead of waiting for America, didn’t we?

In conclusion, I hereby request any serious minded African who is genuinely serious about investing or improving the state of the Nigerian Fashion Manufacturing Industry to contact me via info@emmycollinsshop.com to go through my proposal on that subject. Fashion manufacturing is a very lucrative business but you must know how to unlock the money therein. I know where the money is!

 

I hereby pen off here.

P.S. I sincerely apologise for this epistle. I wish it was possible to be abridged.

 

Continue the conversation with Emmy Collins on Instagram  EmmyCollinsLondon and on Twitter @emmycollins

 

 

posted by on Intresting People

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One re-occurring set of words or phrase from any blog/article/TV show about weight loss is “I decided”! “I took control” and other similar lines. This is for a very clear and obvious reason, it all starts with “I”!

For one minute, forget the media and the trends, the distractions and the glossy magazines. Forget any and every reason known and unknown and spend some time in front of a mirror. Wait! Before you think this is an exercise in self-condemnation, I need you to clear your mind from everything!

 Nancy2011

 

ThrowBack With My Brother NTA Abuja

Yes, I was big

Ask yourself some real questions.

“Do you like what you see?”

“What do you like?”

“What do you dislike?”

“What is out of your control?”

“What can you change?”

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Real questions that can only be answered honestly by YOU. Sounds rather preachy? I know and agree with you. But this is exactly what I have spent the last two and half years doing. I was never really the big girl in the crowd. I wasn’t the slimiest but my weight was never something I really paid any attention to. Then slowly, creepily, before I even knew it, I couldn’t fit into a size 18 dress! I had an important event to go to and went from shop to shop, mall to mall only to leave empty handed because they don’t make the clothes I wanted …in my size!

sweating it out

 Tired at a party

I didn’t like it one tiny bit! I hated anything to do with going shopping! You couldn’t convince me to go into a changing room! To buy bra nko? Na warfare by faya! Bikini nko? Bikini for where? It wasn’t funny at all o! All I wanted was to be able to find something I liked and pick it up in my size, straight from the rack without any skinny shop assistant looking disapprovingly at me as if she was saying “Abeg! No tear am o! Ya size no dey here!” I definitely know what it’s like to look at a wardrobe full of clothes, but also know that I’d be lucky to find something to wear that day because nothing fits anymore! Trust me, I know. 

I didn’t like it but I was too busy with my career and my family to even consider doing anything about it. Come on! I had all the legitimate excuses! Young children, sleepless nights, an unending to-do list and that’s before I add work to the pile! My health was seriously strained. I almost always went to sleep in exhaustion and often woke up just as exhausted as the night before! I couldn’t possibly exercise…. or… could I?

Jill Scott! Yep! Jill’s weight loss pictures shocked me to my core! I have always loved everything about her, her style, her music, her smile, the subtle innuendo in her lyrics…. EVERYTHING! She was the ultimate poster girl for big girls and she lost all that gorgeous chub??? For real?? I couldn’t wait to search out every article about her weight loss. I wanted to ascribe her new body to her money and some crazy surgery! Haba! How fat pesin go just melt like dat without surgery or sontin sontin? But was I in for a real shock! Ol’ boi! She gym d tin o! Her success was, as the articles stated, all about a conscious change of her diet and exercise! I just knew I have been kicked right in the backside! If Jill can do it, why can’t I? To make matters worse, my brother, who I hadn’t seen in a while, came visiting and couldn’t stop having a go at me! I taught him to swim and we used to go to the gym together so he couldn’t believe how big I had become! He stepped it up a notch by placing a bet! He said, ”lose some weight before my next visit and I’ll take you on a luxurious, chauffeur driven, evening out!” Can you imagine the cheek of it? lol!

I believe this is where anyone who wants to take control of their own body needs to start from: The Big Vex!!! Asking yourself questions. Finding inspiration. Looking inwards. Making this decision is usually just a start, but the single most important part of the journey. This is the part that sustains you when you don’t feel like working out. It’s the only thing that stops you from binging when it seems like the natural thing to do! Knowing that no one else can do what needs to be done, except you!

Back to Jill Scott. I printed out this picture of her and stuck it on my fridge! That look was my warning, my caution, my challenge, my dare! I felt she was looking right into my eyes and saying ” must you eat your children’s leftover?” Or ” that slice of cake will need a 40 minute run to burn off”! Why do I write this? I tell it with the hope that at least one person is encouraged by this journey. Hopefully, I might just be reaching out to that girl who is exactly where I was. It is possible! It can be done without any extreme dieting or surgery.

I’m currently in the process of losing more weight and I sooooooo want a chiseled flat-as-a-pan abs! Can I do it? I don’t see why not….. do you?

(Sorry I don’t have great pictures of myself. That’s one of the aftermath of getting big, so, I’d endeavour to take more pictures.)

Got questions? I’m on twitter @Kodblu.

 

 

 

 

posted by on General

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Ok,guys,This is me giving you guys an insight into my London street style.Below are few of the images that basically interprets what I have been up to style-wise.image

I hope you guys find it fun to glance at.

 

I will be posting more images next week in the weekly Emmy Collins Street Style episode..

Until then,it is goodbye from this end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

posted by on General

9 comments

The topic trending locally in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, has been what I can honestly and categorically without any ifs or buts declare as a VERY successful visit to United State by our President. Sound bites sipping out of the various interviews have been deemed very impressively satisfying by any Nigeria here in London that I have bumped into this week. In fact an old chum of mine who formerly supported GEJ couldn’t but confess to me over the phone that he is indeed warming up to Buhari. It is beginning to look like we got the good one this time in President Muhammadu Buhari however, I will recommend that we don`t get ahead of ourselves;these are still early times. Yes, it is absolutely too soon to start popping the champers. My stance at this moment is still that of “trust but verify”.

To my Igbo brothers, I have noticed that we are the most unsupportive of this government as we are still reeling from the defeat heaped on our candidate, the pilfering WEAK former President and his gang of oil bunkering brigands. Now here is the deal, unless you can state emphatically what the likes of Peter Obi, Pius Anyim, Okonjo Iweala, armoured-B-M-W loving Stella Odua et al have specifically done for you, your family, village, local government,Igbos or the entire country while they held sway at Abuja, then I suggest you get smart, do the right thing and fall behind the President! Una see say Buhari no send anyone so we go either become part of the unit wey be Nigeria or we will be left behind moaning.

For those still agitating for Biafra,well,Biafra is history! A 48 year old history to be precise. It is dead! Kaput! Oti ku! Onwu go! Even Ojukwu distanced himself from Biafra when he was granted pardon hence he got back, reclaimed his confiscated properties, got himself a nice little fancy looking luxurious Mercedes 450 cabriolet and declared for NPN whilst NPP an Igbo/Biafra party led by the then Owelle of Onitsha, Dr Azikiwe was in existence. God endowed you with thinking faculty called brain aka ubulu, so do yourself a huge favour and use it.Our so called Igbo leaders only turn to us whenever their aim is to use us to achieve their personal aims so I implore you not to let that happen any more.Ka anyi gwa fa na oburo ewu mulu anyi (let`s tell them that we were not conceived by goats).

Ka ana aga na ubi ka oka na aka!

Let’s progress to the MTV MAMA’s award recently held in Durban, South Africa. If I’m brutally honest, I initially dismissed the style images coming from the event with a wave of hand as an utter disaster. However,  having slept over it, I have simmered down a bit. In as much as it isn’t at the level it should be, (I believe the more appropriate phrase is ‘disappointingly boring’) I’d say it was not entirely disastrous as I previously declared. I mean no one really threatened to knock it right out of the pack. It just seemed like most of the guests were gunning for anything slightly above the minimum standard required.

Shall we sink our teeth into them together and see what you reckon? ‘Je ka losi ibeyen’ abi how Yoruba dey talk am?

The fastest and easiest way to snuff the life out of any major ambition you might entertain is to hang around little folks with little ambitions. Also remember that as long as you have any breath left in you, any unfulfilled ambition is still valid. Very much valid! Please don’t ask me where this is coming from; it is just a random thought.

MTV MAMA 2015 Yemi Alade (7)

Colour cordination is quite pleasant here and she seems to be glowing however, I wouldn’t have chosen this for her. That said I wouldn’t declare this a miss by a long shot so even though I’m not for it, Yemi is a winner this week. || Read more