The executive officer of St Elles international, Idakwo Alfred is an Abuja based fashion designer that clothed selected individual for luxury. The young and talented CEO speaks with DEBORAH OCHENI about his fashion philosophy, challenges fashion designers face in Nigeria and sundry issues.
Why do you choose to design selected people?
I clothe for luxury and not everybody can afford luxury. I am fine with that decision because that has helped me to carve a niche for myself in the industry.
What is your personal style?
My style is simple, classy and attractive. I don’t wear what everybody wears, even if I choose to, I give mine a unique touch.
What do you think of details?
There are a lot of details many tailors don’t care about. Before you make an outfit for a client, you have to consider the person’s size, the cut and the finishing. These are details that tailors don’t really care about but we care about it as professionals. What really matters in fashion is fabrics, tailoring and finishing. They are the things that distinguish you from other tailors.
What is your ready to go outfits?
Tr a d i t i o n a l wears because it makes one to look unique and luxurious.
Who is your best designer?
St Elles. I were what I produce and I am pleased with my designs.
Which is your most preferred fabrics?
Cashmere because it’s classy and durable.
Which accessories do you live for?
Watches and eye glasses, they are icing on every looks.
Do you have a signature perfume?
No, I’m fine with anyone that smells nice and long lasting.
How do you love your shoes?
Simple but with a touch of gold because I’m a king.
What will you never be caught wearing?
Clothes that are not starched because I like my clothes crispy
What determines what you wear?
The occasion that I am going for is major the determinant of what I wear.
How easily do you get fabrics in Nigeria?
It’s very easy because we have lots of importer here.
What informed the decision of going into fashion designing?
I have been an inventor and a genius right from when I was a child, I love fashion so well and at a point I found it so difficult to get my choice of clothe. Tailors don’t get by size and design perfectly and that was how I started making my wears. Then I did not think of going commercial but at a point I decided to make fashion designing a career because of compliments I get. The first two suits I made were made in Aba during my Youth Service at Owerri in Imo state and eventually I won the best dress copper for National Association of Catholic Copper. After NYSC, I knew I could work for nobody because I have my taste and I finally arrived at fashion designing after much thought and I was convincing I could do it easily.
You have been in the business of fashion designing for a while now. How would you describe the experience so far?
It’s been so wonderful but very tasky as well. I’m a graduate of Mass Communication and I have never taken any course in fashion and designing but immediately after my Youth Service, I proceeded to doing fashion. I did fashion just to earn a living between 2010 and 2012 after which I decided to take it as a career.
What are you offering differently from other fashion designers?
The truth is whatever business you do is saturated, it takes creativity to stand out, I know St Elles is a brand right now because we take our job seriously, we take special care of details and designs. All the designs I create are a child of my brain and imagination of my inventive genius. That is what is keeping us in the business.
What inspires your various creations?
Everything; people, my environment and colour inspires me because I’m very imaginative.
Do you also design for women?
I’m not a copycat, I do unisex clothing that is English and Traditional wears
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Accessibility to funds. There are people with wealth of ideas on how to better the economy of this nation but they never have access to start up fund.
What do you think government can do to assist young fashion designers?
Government should make it easier for SMEs to access loan because trends evolve daily and we need funds to be in business.
Do you think fashion industry can rebased the economy of Nigeria?
Very well, fashion is entertainment, if you talk of first ten richest people in the world, fashion designers are among them. It means if the government invests in fashion they have nothing to lose.
Does your background influence who you are now?
Lion beget lion, my late father was a political hero and I choose not to do politics because of how it is played in Africa.