Just when I was wondering and rationalizing, in my head, what seems to be an illogical exclusion by the World Bank of Nigeria’s fashion industry in its proposed US30million dollar investment in Nigeria’s creative industries (film and music); I receive further validation I am correct on my thought that the World Bank missed the boat on fashion.
Although a relatively young industry, especially when compared to film and music, Nigeria’s fashion industry and its professionals have been gaining huge strides and commanding the world’s attention. Visit LadybrilleNigeria.com link here to see what Nigerian designers, the world over, have been up to. The latest global news giving even more “shine” to Nigeria’s fashion industry and designers is the recent commission of the Nigerian owned label Bunmi Koko by America’s First Lady Michelle Obama to design a jacket for the First Lady.
“Bunmi Olaye, 27, who runs Bunmi Koko with her partner Francis Udom, was given the honour after sending a prospectus of her designs to the White House.
Soon after a call came to the couple from Washington asking if a coat could be made for Mrs Obama.
Mr Udom said: “Someone said they were from the First Lady’s office and she was interested in a cream coat we had featured and could we make it for her.
“We were stunned but kept calm and said we would make her a coat in September. I hope she likes it.””
The Bunmi Koko label is operated by Bunmi Olaye (creative designer who is of Yoruba origins) and Francis Udom (engineer turned fashion entrepreneur who is of Calabar origins). Udom’s business acumen combined with Olaye’s creativity has caught the attention of both the everyday woman and celebrities like ex-Spice girl Melanie Brown, Estelle, Mischa Barton, First Lady Michelle Obama, among many. The two have also amassed numerous nominations and awards. For example, Olaye was a recent winner at the 2010 Africa Fashion International Africa Fashion Awards in the category of ‘Best Emerging Designer’ (International) while Udom was a finalist and nominee for the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the Grampian Awards.
I am excited for the Bunmi Koko brand and even more excited about the massive attention their designs on the body of the First Lady will bring to Nigerian designers and its fashion industry. The best is yet to come. Carry on Bunmi Koko and of course all industry professionals.
To emerging and existing designers, be inspired. Anything is possible! I would also take a page out of Bunmi Koko’s “What to Do to Grow your Fashion Label” and send quality illustrations of my work to whomever I desire to wear my designs. You never know, like Olaye and Udom, you might just score big and the rest, like they say, “is history.”
Read the article on Bunmi Koko dressing Mrs. Obama here.
Read the article on Francis Udom Leaving the “oil rigs” to pursue fashion here.
Watch Bunmi Koko interview at the AFI Africa Fashion Week below.
~Courtesy Photo/Bunmi & Francis with Nelson Mandela