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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Part 2 Interview of Nigeria/New York's Fashion Designer Lola Faturoti

We complete our interview with Nigeria/New York's Fashion Designer Lola Faturoti. Here, Lola discusses some tips African designers can use to get noticed in the USA/European fashion industries. For Part I, click here Do you have an opinion about Africa’s fashion Industry?
Faturoti:I think there are some great designers out there. My father sent me some Nigerian magazines and I am very inspired by what they do. Let's focus on Nigeria for a minute. Who are your favorite Nigerian designers?
Faturoti:I don’t really know their names but from what the people are wearing in the magazines, I am inspired by some of them. I also can see the way they are putting the Western fashion and incorporating it into their way of designing and I think it is very interesting but I think they are just concentrating on Nigeria. If they are, that is very good. If they are concentrating on the Western world and expanding, they have to look for a way of doing that., then let me ask you this. What are your suggestions for Nigerian and [ other African designers] who really want to make it into the [USA] market. They want to create Western silhouettes [b]ut retain their own identity through their fabrics?

Faturoti: Some of them are doing it already by incorporating the Western fabric with the African fabric. I think it is also the silhouette. The shape. What I really like is the trims. The way they trim the costumes/clothing over there [Nigeria], especially the Ankaras. I really find it inspiring the way they cut into the Ankaras and put the trims. I like that a lot. But, I think one thing they need to brush up on are Western shapes. they would keep/retain the uniqueness of their African fabrics but do more Western shapes?
Faturoti: Exactly. Any other suggestions? How do you get into retail stores, for example?
Faturoti: The thing is that [p]ublicity is very important. They need to put their name out there, especially coming from [Africa]. People need to see what they are doing and it is from there that they could start getting out there. It also depends on who they are trying to target. If they are trying to target the world, for example, then they need to move out of the African/Nigerian thing and move more into the world, basically involving outsiders to help them. If they stay only within the Nigerian or African PR/Sales or whatever, they wil always get to be in that market. But, if they for example say, “Okay, I am going to America to find a showroom that will take us on, you know then they have a chance of getting to the outside world." I find even emerging fashion designers in the States have a very hard time being taken seriously by showrooms. What is the probability that a showroom will take an African designer seriously?
Faturoti: Well, America is kind of like different, especially New York. If you go to a showroom and they see talent, they will take you on. if the fabrics are very foreign to the showrooms and their target market?
Faturoti: Well, if they see something different but wearable, they will take them on. Now you have talked about [knowing] who their target audience is. There are lots of African women in the West, USA and Europe. A lot of them, from available data, like to shop, look great and have no problems embracing their own culture/clothing but want the modern silhouette you talk about. Do you think African designers targeting these women in the West would succeed?

Faturoti:I don’t see why not. I think what [African designers in Africa] are doing, Africans in the Western world would really like to have some of those things. For example, my sister lives in [W]ashington DC. She is very fashionable, she is a very smart woman and she wears a lot of Nigerian clothing. She has to send people to Nigeria or ask my mom to send her some of these beautiful things. But, if a designer comes here that they know of, I am sure she would rather prefer to buy it over here than having my mom send things to her. Going back to African fabrics, do you have any Ankara collections?
Faturoti: Yes. My current upcoming Fall designs has Ankara designs on silk fabrics. I also have other African inspired deisgns. One of the shoots WWD did for a write up on me also has an Ankara top I created but in a Western way. [I] want to be an ambassador for fashion from Nigeria in the Western World. I have to create not only for my people. I have to think of everyone in the whole world and how they can see my work and say, "[I] could wear this." My biggest clients for the prints last season were in Japan and Los Angeles. They went for it even though the tops were boubou shaped but in a Western way so they went for it because they can relate. Where do you see your career going in the next five years?
Faturoti: I want the whole world to wear my collection. My dream right now is to be financially successful. Have you ever showed in Nigeria or anywhere in Africa?
Faturoti: No. Do you plan on showing [in Africa]anytime soon?
Faturoti: Yes, I will show in the next five years. [laughs] [G]ood.
Faturoti: [laughs] Yes. I am open but I just have not had the time but even if it just for my family. That will make them feel really proud, real good to see their daughter’s success.
Faturoti: Yeah. I would like to show kids in Nigeria and around the world that if you have a dream and you put a bit of energy. Actually, not a bit of energy. [Laughs] you definitely need more than a bit of energy.
Faturorti: [chuckles and then continues] There will be a lot of times that you will be like, "[That's] it. I am not doing it anymore!" But, if you really believe in yourself and you keep going, you will make it one day. That is what I really want all kids to know. They can be anything they want to be. True. To whom much is given, much is expected. When we receive, it is incumbent upon us to give back.
Faturoti: Yes. That is important because the universe has given a lot to me in my life and that is something I would like to do, [to give back].


My 2 cents said...

This is really interesting and insightful. I have forayed into styling and designing myself cause I have a head full of ideas that need birhting. Designers of Nigerian descent should come together and form a great front to actualise our dreams because we can do it..

delabique said...

Lola, congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!! u have raised d bar u r truly an inspiration well done!!!!!!!

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