Interview: Omoyemi Akerele Speaks On Putting LFDW Together, Plus How To Mix Fashion & Business

Bringing fashion and entrepreneurship together, Nigeria’s very own Omoyemi Akerele was recently recognized by BusinessofFashion 500 alongside icons like Iman and Tom Ford as one of the outstanding people shaping the global fashion industry. Omoyemi Akerele is the Creative Director of Style House, a Style, Fashion and Image Consulting Company with years of experience in the fashion industry. She is also the creative behind annual Lagos Fashion & Design Week that was wrapped up recently and showcasing iconic designers such as Tiffany Amber, Maki Oh, LDA and Jewel By Lisa while also uplifting emerging artists.

Omoyemi Akerele is widely regarded as a driving force behind the burgeoning Nigerian fashion industry. Prior to Style House Files, Omoyemi Akerele worked as senior style editor at popular fashion magazine True Love, and set up an image consulting agency with a local Nigerian celebrity stylist, Bola Balogun. Trained as a lawyer from the University of Lagos, Akerele has also completed masters in international economic law from the University of Warwick, and worked at prestigious Nigerian law firm Olaniwun Ajayi & Co from 2000 to 2003.

 

 

In an exclusive interview following the recent conclusion of LFDW2013, Omoyemi Akerele spoke to OnoBello.com about contributing to the global fashion industry, her five year plan and more.

OB: Your business in fashion is definitely taking you places, well done! How does it feel to be named among the Bof 500 alongside heavy weights like Fashion Anna Wintour, Alexandra Shulman, Anna dello Russo, Edward Enniful, Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn, Iman and many other blue-chip titans from around the world?
OA: It makes me speechless especially when I think of such peoples’ contribution to defining the global fashion industry VS. how much there’s still left to be done to kickstart our industry.

OnoBello OnoBello

OB: Apart from Style House Files, you are the coordinator of the annual GTB LDFW now in its 3rd year, how did that come about, what inspired you to take your career in fashion to that height?
OA: My career in fashion started about eleven years ago with an understanding that some of the most important things in life are purpose and passion driven, combined with a deeper need to make a difference beyond myself and make an impact. I started work on the Nigerian fashion scene as a pioneer in fashion styling and image consulting, was the fashion editor of a lifestyle magazine and with my partner at the time, revolutionised styling in Nigeria which has become a key role in the industry where there was previously none. Over the years, I realised that there was huge gap that needed to be filled. There was room for a platform to act as a catalyst on the scene, to spearhead change and work towards positioning fashion as business in Nigeria. We are inspired by a number of factors such as the awareness of the talent we have, sheer size of Nigeria’s population and an understanding of the potential that having clearly defined structure, infrastructure and a vision to position ‘fashion’ retail as a key contributor to Nigeria’s economy can have on the Nigerian economy. We see our role as agents of change on the scene, determined to make an impact, change the mindset of people and to create opportunities where there seems to be none.

OnoBello
With The GTBank Team

OB: What criteria do you use in selecting the participating designers?
OA: The GTB LFDW Advisory board which consists of stakeholders in the industry and beyond listed criteria which include: Designer’s ability to transform creativity into marketable products, functioning website/ online presence, previous collections, creativity, details of where collections are retailed, previous season look books.

OB: In a short space of three year you have achieved a lot with LDFW, tell us about your five year plan?
OA: Watch this space

OB: Your GTB LDFW platform saw African designers- Anita Quansah, Bridget Awosika, Jewel by Lisa, Lanre DaSilva Ajayi and Omer Asim selected to take part in one of the biggest tradeshow in Europe this year’s -Pitti Immagine in Florence, what has been the outcome for the designers from that, do some of these international retail stores stock pieces from them?
OA: The GTB LFDW platform employs collaboration as a tool for promoting the work of designers. Our collaboration with Pitti Immagine organisers of Trade Show Pitti W for four consecutive seasons has provided opportunities for designers to be seen by press and buyers on an international scale. The Platform is unique for this ability to provide opportunities for both young and established designers. As established designers in the industry seek expansion into new markets, we have positioned the industry for retail opportunities within the continent and internationally. Grey Velvet (Lagos), L’espace (Lagos), Stranger (Lagos), Moda Operandi (New York), My Theresa.Com (Online), LuisaViaRoma (Florence), Merchants on Long (Cape Town), Dolce and Gabbana Via Spiga2 (Milan) are a few of the retail destinations you can now shop Nigerian designers from. Ituen Basi recently presented a collection at the Vogue Dubai event, post glowing reviews from LFDW 2012 and a successful outing at Pitti W January 2012.

OnoBello
At 2013 GTB LFDW

OB: What are your plans for participating designers at the 2013 LFDW?
OA: Lagos, Nigeria is fast becoming the African fashion industry’s crowd favourite and as the market slowly evolves, the consistent message we are sending out there is “business can be done here.” At Lagos Fashion and Design Week, we remain committed to our goal of organically growing the industry as the business of fashion is established in Nigeria.  Our by-line for this year is “building from within” and the key word here is “building”. As we work towards positioning the platform as the hub for commerce and creativity on the continent, we are also aware of the need to contribute to creating structures in place for the industry to grow and thrive.

OnoBello

With Mrs B of Browns London, Zara

Opara & Nkiri Anumudu

OB: Where’s the best place to shop and why?
OA: Nigeria – you have so many options to choose from and a wide range of designers that can cater for every occasion.

Check out some designers from the recently concluded Lagos Fashion & Design Week:

Jewel By Lisa Lanre DaSilva Ajayi
Tsemaye Binitie

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