London designer, Adebayo Jones is in town right now. For those who don’t know him, let’s rejig your memory a bit about this pencil-slim fashion designer, whose name is big in global fashion.
Adebayo Jones is the Nigerian born International fashion designer, who works and lives in London, United Kingdom. He has been in the fashion business for over 30 years, in the city of London. But he lived his early life in Nigeria. He will always tell you about his Ijebu roots, in Ogun State. He is currently in town to hold a 2 day intensive Adebayo Jones Master Class.
Last Friday, this ruggedly stylish designer spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, about how global fashion is fast affecting the rest of the world, especially Nigeria. What Adebayo Jones is saying is that, Nigerian designers should pay serious attention to the challenges ahead of them and that they should make good use of their various fabrics, like Ankara. Read on, it’s a revealing interview.
Why is Adebayo Jones in town? What are you up to?
I am in Lagos for the Adebayo Jones Master Class. It’s a training programme. We’ve been working on it for quite a while. It was necessary because of the number of enquiries we get through our mail asking us where people can train and if there is a school.
It just got to the point where we felt we have to do something, to give the best in terms of advice and guidance to our designers so that we can get better at what we do. So that we can improve on our quality and be able to compete globally with our merchandise as well.
We just noticed that enquiries were getting more and more. And sometimes, it breaks my heart when I see a garment that has been brought into London, from Nigeria, and then you turn it inside out and you will see what has gone on inside. So, even though the exterior looks nice, there is usually problems, in terms of the quality, and the makeup as well on the inside.
So, a lot of people kept asking for training and we said to ourselves, you know what, if not now when?. So, this is going to be a private class, its small, its intimate, and we can grow gradually. It’s for fashion professionals, fashion executives, fashion entrepreneurs and even those aspiring to go into the fashion industry. So that they can have a break out down of what the industry is all about, what is going on globally, and how you can carve your niche from that global market. That’s the whole idea.
It is quite remarkable that even though you have been away in London for a long time, you still think about Nigeria?
It’s because we are always 1st and foremost a Nigerian. That’s our root. That’s where we come from. That is where we are very much celebrated as well. So you can never lose touch with that part of you. It’s great to come back and share ideas with those who are here.
There are no 2 ways about it: Yes, there are good fashion schools in Lagos now. Fantastic ones. But there is so much that can be learnt at well from the outside. So, from what we have been able to take from there, we bring back and we are able to share with our people here as well.
Let’s talk about the influence of global fashion. Many designers here are worried that the influence might affect us here locally?
Global fashion is huge. Fashion is a trillion dollar industry. It’s amazing what it contributes to the global economy. It contributes a great deal to global economies whether it’s in the US or UK, anywhere in the world. That is why you have, particularly, the Fashion Weeks. It starts off in New York, then it comes to London, Milan, Paris and you have the same players following all the trends, all the latest designs from zone to zone.
So, global fashion is huge. Anyone who is smart and business savvy will want to ensure and play in that global space, how you can become a part and realize your own fortune from this global fashion.
I also need to mention that Africa has become a major influence in fashion, through the years. This our staple. This our Ankara fabric is big now in Global fashion. It has become a phenomenon of its kind. It’s taken a life of its own. You find most design companies taking to Ankara, like Stella McCartney, people were up in arms when she did her Ankara Collection and they were selling at Harrods for like $1,200 pounds. Some people seemed to have a problem with it. I don’t. She is a businesswoman. She has a stand-in Harrods. It doesn’t cost pennies to put her products there. And then she has a name to sell it. And nobody is stopping anybody from being able to trade your products and put whatever price tag you think is applicable to it.
And you have Janet Jackson. In her latest videos she had the talking drummers and they had all the Ankara designs and it was a great tribute to Africa, and then the drummers came and started singing Janet Has Come (Janet Ti De).
The talking drums and the whole set up was wonderful. And then I saw the latest collection, Cruise Wear From Dior. I was watching the show and I thought wow!. Even Dior is not left out of this Ankara craze. She has those designers come in and they created those Ankara pieces, for them.
They did a lot of research. They put a lot into it and the result was absolutely stunning. So, if the global fashion empires are not left out of exploring this influence of our so-called Ankara African print which is a staple for us, then what are we doing with it. How can we also get our share out of this market?
So, when you talk of Global Fashion, the influence is huge. We just have to be equipped to be able to play in it.