A deluge of top gunners in fashion branding in Nigeria will end in clustered forms without a high shot for the one and only "Yomi Casual" whose brand has grown to become a crackerjack. Known for clothing celebrities, YomiCasual has carved a nitch for himself by creating designs "cut to fit" as though it were another slash from ones' second skin. In an exhilarating interview granted to us in his state- of-
the-art office and show room located at Bode Thomas, Lagos; Yomi explains how an unfamiliar fluff made him a fashion design BigWig.
Can we meet you please?
My name is Makun Omoniyi Olorunyomi
I'm a fashion designer I make people look good for a living.
Are you related to anyone in the industry?
Yeah...that's Ayo Makun.. Ay (comedian). He is my brother.
How was it like Growing up?
Growing up was very sweet. I grew up with my parents before they passed on. I'm the last born. I grew up in Delta State, Warri. From there I gained admission into Auchi Polytechnic to study fashion and clothing technology for 4years. Then I moved down to Lagos. My brother told me to move down. At first I was like I can't leave my hood but he forced me to move down to lagos and I thank God for where I am
How did it start?
When I was studying I never knew I would be a fashion designer professionally, but in my final year in school, during the final year project exhibition, I did a different stuff with the caftan materials we were asked to use. I did a vampire collar dress and it was crazy. Everyone started screaming and advice me to going
further in the business. Coupled with my brother's support and the kind of patronage I began to get. I was like this is life for me.
What inspires you in business?
I get inspired by my environment and depending on the person I'm working with. It also depends on my client though. I can just look at you and bring something good out of your stature. And then I do a lot of research too. Yeah!
How has it been so far with the fashion business?
Fashion business has been good. The name has been getting to some places I never dream of in my life. Fashion business has been very rewarding.
Yeah!....My first award was the Nigeria youth merit award as the fashion designer of the year and the second is the City People's Hottest Fashion Designer of the year and the third is Effizy magazine fashion designer of the year followed by Impact awards, then I won the Nigerian Youth Fashion Designer of the year again. I won it twice. In 2012 I got like 5 Awards. Then the last one is the Dynamix Awards fashion
designer of the year. Then yesterday I got a recognition Award from Gong awards. That Award is a rare privilege because usually the kind of people that gets the Award are big names in the fashion industry.
By your aspirations, how far how you gone now?
I believe I've not gone anywhere. Infact I could say I've not started because if I should tie my career around my mentor "Mudi" I would say I've not even started. Mudi is like the biggest name in fashion in Nigeria. He has branches all over the nation, Mudi has branches outside Nigeria, so I must say I've not even started at
How do u Regard Mudi?
He is my Role model, he inspires me. The first time I saw his stuff in my brothers wardrobe I was like wow! Who made this? Then my brother told me a whole lot about Mudi and since then I've been following his footsteps. Like...the way I use celebrities to reach out to people is an idea I got from Mudi. That's what he does too.
What's the brain behind the use of celebs to sell your brand?
Mudi brought the idea....yeah!, but when I began to do research, I find that if you can use celebs to sell your brand, what should have taken you five years to achieve can actually be achieved within a year. Because celebs reach out easily. People will savour the beauty of the design more on the celebs. My brother really helped me with contacts to the celebs....yeah!
Do celebs pay you to put on your brands?
No....You don't pay them and they don't pay you also. I understand business. Because
its more like they are modelling for you. That's how its meant to be.
Any plan for a Fashion show?
Yeah...this year I'm going to have "yomi casual on the run way" its a solo show and
its one of my biggest project I'm working on. Then I have the plan of opening my
Abuja branch before the middle of this year. Then my 2013 collection will be coming
out very soon in a grand style, celebs all the way.
Tell us more about your 2013 collection.
Well... My 2013 collection is going to be excellent. In fact I just did a shoot with Desmond Elliot and the kind of comment I get from him is like " guy you are so on point" you know how it feels like when a celebrity tells you that. And I believe for a celeb to apprecaiate it I know the populace will appreciate It also.
And I'm going to reach out through every means, the TV, newspapers magazines, websites and blogs as well.
What is your Selling point?
The major thing people love about my brand is the fact that my clothes are cut to fit. If you wear my brand it'll be like your second skin. I don't make bogus clothes. I'm even trying to be like "Zara" who will tell you they don't make wears for fat people. That's where I'm going now.
If not fashion what will you be doing?
Yomi Casual would have been an Artist. I'm a good Artist. I draw and sketch a lot. I remember back then when my sister was filling my JAMB form, she made a mistake on it. She was meant to fill in Fine and Applied Art and she went ahead to fill fashion and clothing technology. Thank God for where the mistake has brought me today.
I'm not married. But I hope to get married this year or early next year. So I'm not
single and I'm not searching...lol
Where do you see Yomi Casual be in the Next decade?
Yomi Casual will be so very big. Like when you open your wardrobe and you don't have a "yomi casual" outfit in your collection then it would feel like you're not a part of this world. It will be more like a must have for everyone.
How Affordable are your brands?
Yeah... I must say my designs are depending on the clients. If u want to rock the most recent collection of yomicasual you must be ready to pay more. Because my prices depends on the year the clothing was made. I have a 2005 - 2013 collections and they are all of different price ranges. But basically my brands are
affordable... Let's say from 15k upward.
What's your opinion about Peoples response to Nigerian brands?
It was way back that people go for foreign brands. Nigerians are beginning to appreciate Nigerian brands. Because if you want to stand out in fashion you will go for hand-made stuff which will be cut to fit you. And trust me whatever you get from abroad you will see it everywhere and "big-men" get embarrassed when they see younger folks wearing the same outfit with them. So they rather go for Nigerian brands. These days everybody wants to wear Nigerian fashion designer stuffs. Like "Mia" makes very good jackets. Also Tayor Gabrielle is another young designer is doing very well in the fashion business as well.
Challenges (Nigeria factor)
For me Nigerian economic situation is not affecting my business because I'm not a seasonal designer. I make high street fashion. When you say something is couture, my stuffs are just special.
So I don't let the economic situation affect my business. People who value good stuffs will definitely go for it irrespective of the economic situation.
What can you say to Upcoming fashion designer?
I'll keep saying this.... Don't go into fashion because of the money, else you won't make it. Do it for the passion, you have to love what you are doing. The money will always come if you're doing good stuffs.
And again you don't really have to know how to run the pedals on the machine. You can just be the brain behind creative designs and there you go.
And bbm....we can't disclose....lol
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