The Adebayo Jones brand is a big brand in the U.K. Behind that brand is this great Nigerian who has been in fashion for over 30 years. He ranks as one of the biggest fashion designers in London and specialises in bridal outfits.
He usually flies is from time to time, to consult for brides-to-be. And because he is damn good at what he does, he gets called back all the time.
Now in his fifties, this ruggedly handsome man of style spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE last week on his A.J. brand which has become bigger than him.
How has it been sustaining the Adebayo Jones brand?
It has been a long journey, the past decades has been sustained by passion, resilience, focus, tenacity with an unquenchable thirst for excellence and creativity. I have always loved the feel of luxury, a classical and timeless edge to design, infused with fine tailoring skills. Using rich and sumptuous fabrics to create clothes which are wearable, functional and versatile is vital. The designs are created with the aim of withstanding the seasons changes in fashion and also to instill confidence in the client. Observing trends but not totally ruled by it are some of the factors that have helped in keeping the AJ Luxury brand in the forefront of relevance in the fashion industry through the years.
Can you tell us about the brand essence What’s your area of strength?
My passion is about creating beauty. I love elegance and style. I believe that lines should be clean, simple and elegant whilst using the best of dress making skills to harness art and achieve true creativity with wonderfully luxurious fabrics. Details will set ones work apart surely and it has been a distinctive attribute that has made the AJ Luxury brand noticeable and very highly esteemed through the years. One must be relevant with the times but must not loose ones identity and originality to trends. Confidence radiates when you feel good and know that you look good. My goal is to always inspire confidence in whoever wears the AJ brand.
Why do you specialize in Bridal outfits?
I was rounding up in fashion college around 1990 and had always been interested in the bridal wear. I was designing already before I attended fashion college but felt I really needed to hands on with every skill set necessary to be able to flourish at my best. Bridal wear allows a great deal of expression and creativity. I wanted to create amazing wedding gowns like the Emmanuel’s who had designed Princess, Diana’s wedding dress. Someone asked me to make her wedding dress then and it came ou beautifully well. I could make patterns. cut and stitch with precision. Corsets were of particular interest then and I even took extra classes in another college in the evenings just to be able to master the art of corsetry.
Then the next person asked me and the next, so things moved on progressively from there.
I enjoyed working with the brides. Listening to their vision, finding out details of their personalities whilst creating sketches which were best suited for the individual. Choosing fabrics, trims and guiding in decisions on accessories all made the bride’s experience truly memorable and every time a bride walked away happy my reward was complete.
Tell us your story where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Lagos and grew up in Lagos. I attended a catholic primary school, while Secondary School was at the Baptist Academy Lagos and University at Ife in Ile-Ife. That was where the passion for designing was born and I had started showcasing my collections well before graduation.
How did your love for Fashion start?What year?At what age?
Fashion and all things creative started at a very young age. It was my Mother’s profession and she was of immerse help to me when I started in University by advising and cutting patterns for me whenever I did a sketch so I could explain what I wanted to the tailors.
I always wanted to be different. I didn’t want to be the same as everyone and I, like the rest of my siblings could draw really well and was always sketching. In secondary school I started designing my trousers and shirts. We took part in fashion parades as they were called then during school events and then getting to University in 1981 I attended an event with a fashion show at Oduduwa hall and something clicked. That was it. I just knew I was going to be a designer and nothing else was going to make me fulfilled. That truly was the introduction of fullness into my lifelong romance with fashion.
The thrill of having a thought from the subconscious and seeing it realized is simply magical.
Can you take us through the growth and development of your label since inception? What have been the changes?
After Fashion college I started out making wedding dresses. It took on a life of its own. I was always somewhat extravagant in selecting rich sumptuous fabrics and using detailing to make my work distinctive. The lines were always clean and classical.
I also had a mission. It was to be a designer universally acclaimed but didn’t just want to be put in a box. This objective was for the work to be appreciated for its true value and realising I am African would be the cherry on the top. But then the name Adebayo always gave one away.
Studying tailoring and pattern cutting helped a great deal. I was able to diversify and go into making really lovely nicely tailored suits and evening dresses with a lot of corsetry.
I always loved luxury forms that are elegant appeal to the creative instincts in me. Accessories alike have to be unique. My greatest influence in fashion was the late Yves Saint Laurent. He was a genius. I would study his work, watch his documentaries, and was always captivated by his love of colours, ways he combined them and his revolutionary approach to style and design. He gave us the female Tuxedo creating something unique and equally almost scandalous for the times.
Just as much as Dior had equally impacted the world with the new look. When textiles were being rationed then and suits were designed for women knee lengths and pencil shaped skirts, Dior crested a full skirt with volume and long length at about cinched in waistline jackets. It caused an outrage at first. On my part however the combination of the history of beautiful wedding gowns, alluring evening dresses and beautifully sculptured suits from Adebayo Jones spoke one unilateral language. Luxury.
The brand was to become associated with opulence, grand designs detailed in creativity, beautifully rich luxurious fabrics and classically designed elegant lines defined the ethos of the brand and Adebayo Jones Luxury was born.
At what stage is your label now?
The brand has been on the forefront of recognizable fashion. Couture is a rewarding experience and has created a platform for brand awareness of the AJ line. We are working on diversification of the AJ product line and it allows a wider clientele base to share in our vision. Couture can often be seen as expensive and out of reach for some sectors of the market, so having a diverse range of products helps to acquaint more of the public with our dream. I am also a Associate producer and host on a fashion reality TV series called The Golden Button.
It is a show aimed at mentoring the new generation of fashion designers through the support of the judges who are seasoned industry experts. Each week the contestants compete to find the Golden Button and showcase their collection for that week while being accessed and scored by the judges. it is shown on the Canadian networks of Rogers and Bell Fibe three times a week. We had a really fabulous first season and now working on the second season. We also have a project in the food industry. as bizarre as it may come across it is still very much all about fashion and all it’s glitz.
Do you still visit Nigeria to take orders from your clients?
As we are based in England a greater part of our time is spent here and whenever we are on ground in Nigeria we still do hold consultations. however most of the regular clients travel frequently and as such more meetings are held abroad where we can source fabrics, trims and every necessary component needed to make an outfit the very special piece that it should be.
What will any bride or Groom who wants Adebayo Jones to design for him or she do?
Everyone wants to look good. for this reason we invest in grooming products and buying fashionable items of clothing and accessories that define our style. When there is a special occasion like a wedding the bride or groom usually is after something truly special, glamorous, elegant and makes them the star of the occasion. I believe in taking into account personality aspects, concerns, likes of the client and creating a piece that suits the individual comfortably. The golden rule is that at your event no one should outshine you. Clients want to feel special and look grand on their special day. Our job therefore is to make this a reality using the best of fabric choices, design, trimmings and superb manufacturing skills to achieve this.
Where in Nigeria is Adebayo Jones from? Where does your parent live?
My Parent both late were from Ijebu land. My Father was an accountant and a businessman and my Mother had studied fashion and did practice for a while before turning to business also. My Father gave us a great start, good education as well as a comfortable life.My mother helped me a great deal with her experience when I was starting out and was always supportive. We lived in Lagos and I am fortunate to be blessed with wonderful siblings and a loving family.
I have worked in fashion for over 30 years. I am in my fifties now and the AJ Luxury brand has been going well over 20 years. The brand was launched at the German Embassy in London officially with a spectacularly grand fashion show and reception which attracted celebrities and a host of government officials from various missions.