We Are Competing With Western Designers – Kenny Okorie

Mrs Kenny Okorie is the CEO of Keto Couture, an Abuja-based fashion label that has made an in-road to the international fashion market. ...

Mrs Kenny Okorie is the CEO of Keto Couture, an Abuja-based fashion label that has made an in-road to the international fashion market. In this interview with HAUWA MAHMUD MADUGU, she speaks about how the fashion industry in Nigeria is rising rapidly, amongst other issues.
How would you rate the fashion industry in Nigeria?

The Fashion industry is now very interesting in Nigeria. It is fast rising and has really come to stay. Before now, if you don’t wear Gucci, Versace, or Christian Dior, you are not fashionable.

Now, people can proudly wear clothes made by Nigerian designers and feel absolutely good and fabulous about it.

And there is something unique about the African fabric that even when you infuse the western style, it comes out perfectly.

I think Nigerian designers have come a long way in bringing out the best in the African fabric and even beyond. In fact, we are currently competing with the western designers.

Would you say the Industry is lucrative?

Well, just as in every business, consistency is very important. If you are consistent and have good clientele, it pays.

Recently, you were the only Nigerian designer who showcased her work in Paris.
How were you able to achieve that?

I have been going to Paris since I started the International runway.

I have been to South Africa, New York, London, and a host of other countries for fashion shows. However, Paris is my home because I am always there and I have a lot of clientele over there.

Showcasing my work at their fashion show felt really good, because I was able to rub shoulders with the industry giants from around the world.

It also felt wonderful to be able to make a statement on behalf of Africa and Nigeria in particular, and to see people from developed nations clamour for Nigerian made clothes.

The show was a classic one and I was made to close the show, which meant a lot to me. Initially, I wasn’t meant to close the show but when they saw my designs they were deeply moved and said I had to. I think my clothes speak for themselves.

What do you mean by ‘closing the show’?

The best usually closes the show. They wouldn’t have asked me to close the show if they didn’t consider my designs as being the best.

Does the upcoming election have any impact on the fashion industry?

Definitely! A lot of people have travelled out of the country; the rise in dollar is also another factor. The price of fabrics are now higher, although I wouldn’t say it is the fault of Any challenges you encounter while making the clothes? There are as many shapes and sizes as there are human beings on earth. No two persons are exactly the same especially in terms of shape. So, there is no standardised way of doing it. Everyone is unique and as a designer, you must be able to satisfy every customer. You must get their shapes, otherwise you will have problems. That is the greatest challenge of the industry. Customer satisfaction is very important, some can be erratic, some can be insulting but some are pretty nice. The challenges are numerous but with God on our side, we are able to overcome. What motivates you in your choice of designs? Flowers, colours and nature. I create an image in my mind and that image gives me the drive to create something. And I always feel fulfilled when I am done bringing out the design. Majorly, my inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit and from great designers like Coco Chanel, because her clothes are timeless. Through the handiwork of designers big people seem to have no boundaries anymore, what can you say about that? I embrace all manner of structures and physique. In fact, I help big people bring out the best in them because they are mostly endowed. Some big people even have better shapes, so even with a big tummy, I make them look good. I have been able to convert a lot of people who didn’t use to wear dinner gowns because they have big tummies to become gown addicts. So there is no barrier in fashion.
Any designer you look up to?
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