Categories
Fashion

Surviving a Pandemic, Way Forward for African Fashion Brands

To create applicable verdicts about the future, we need to always look and learn from the past. Because those who do not learn from history are bound to reproduce her errors.

It is no news that the fashion industry; alongside other sectors, have taken a severe jab from the Corona virus pandemic, which has caused major setbacks, especially in the modus operandi of the global sector with respect to appearances, seasons and evolution. The virus, similar to the Spanish flu of 1918, is an infamous fatal pandemic that is eating away years of progressive growth, thereby causing global relapses as of what we are encountering currently. Countries have had to resort to executing economical stimulating policies and incentives to its citizens in order to keep business activities afloat. 

As of 1919, the Spanish flu had engulfed a 3rd of the world, which in turn caused people alongside the government to deploy counter measures in containing it. As such, distancing, sanitation, and very importantly the incorporation of masks into daily clothing ensembles aided the cause. These aren’t any different from what we are currently deploying in an attempt to put out the corona fire.

“I heartily favour a woman wearing a heavy chiffon veil all the time she is on the street. It may become necessary to order everyone in New York to adopt this measure. These veils are very thick and would serve as an almost absolute preventative. Let’s forget style and stop this epidemic,” said New York Health Commissioner Royal S. Copeland, in the Oct. 16, 1918 edition of WWD.

This, to the fashion space, beams a touch of the old ways paving the path for our future as even Truth Over Trend once stated, “the way forward is at best, backward”.

Deploying movement restrictions and travel bans across the globe seems like a fit to cut off the virus’s spread. But, it has also hampered industries and progressive economical activities, including the fashion world. The pro to this is that it caused a massive outpouring of creativity and innovation wherein the industry as a whole begins to deploy virtual measures of advertising, marketing, and sales even beyond what was obtainable in the last decade. Fashion shows are being hosted online, interpersonal brand experiences with clients are mostly virtual, and even purchase of merchandise via the internet becomes the new normal wherein the market continues to survive as the world shakes off the dreaded virus.

Thus, taking a look at the African fashion scenery, the continent as we know it is a vivid contributor to the fashion history and space the world is concerned for, as she utilises the recourse availed her as an insufficient region to compete with the developed parts of the world. The pandemic also affected her as a lot of manufacturing plants, stores, outlets were forced to close and events cancelled (as it was with other parts of the world), but so did it avail her a new horizon to create at beneficial terms and swiftly as opposed to what the Fashion Capitals are capable of.

The industry, especially in Africa is capable of thriving by deploying flexible work ethics that caters for the essentials as opposed to excessive and (on the long run) creating a common base of well chain-linked networks that provides a means of collaboration (resource pull), specialisation and adequate deployment of the limited resources at hand.The future of African Fashion is highly dependent and tailored towards collaborations and incorporation of digitally inclined strategies for her to go beyond the status quo.

Anita Ukah

“It has been said that Africa is the future of fashion and that is undeniably true. From Nigerian craftsmen making exotic designs to designers and their awe-inspiring pieces. It is amazing how much work and heart put into the production of pieces.

“We have a lot to offer: our rich textiles; colourful fabrics and leather, all these can compete with the global markets especially when it comes to the finishing of most Nigerian products.

“We have a lot of culture and heritage, and we keep these alive by representation and presentation.Telling our stories and expressing who we are through fashion is imperative cause that’s one of the ways to keep our identity alive. Most international brands use African prints and even just rebrand what we have and market. 

Anita Ukah

“You are the best person to tell your story, you don’t sit and let someone else do it, milk you for it and then complain. Although, using African culture and heritage cannot be everyone’s style but finding ways to incorporate or identify with it is important because that’s a way to keep it alive.

“As of today many Nigerian works are being recognised abroad, as well there is a demand for them.

“Regarding how we have been able to remain sustainable as a leather bag brand despite such harsh times, t he cost of leather in Nigeria are generally fair which made top international brands often import leather from Nigeria, and I don’t think they would import from Nigeria if it were considered expensive. This enables us to source all our working materials locally, so getting materials wasn’t an issue at first. But then, there was the scare of going out and contacting the COVID-19 virus as we work with craftsmen, this also meant coming in contact with people and everyone being at risk. The situation then gradually went from that to the lockdown. People were rarely going out and didn’t quite see the need to purchase fashion pieces and even if they did want to make a purchase, there was the issue of delivery.

Anita Ukah

“However, knowing what I want for my brand (Uzoleatheratelier)  keeps me and the enterprise going. We are working towards having a brand of locally made goods that cater to variety of people within the socio-economical pyramid. My craftsmanship is really important to me as i consider one of the most important things in a product is it’s finishing. My pieces are finely crafted and high quality is always attained, this applies to the leather and all other materials used as well.

“Meanwhile, most Nigerian fashion brands import fabrics and other materials, so with closure of borders, manufacturing has definitely been challenging and also with events and celebrations being brought to a halt or minimum, this drastically reduces the demand for most fashion items as people have fewer places to be and therefore do not purchase clothing like before the pandemic. But, as the situation has been, most fashion brands have ventured into production of protective face mask and even incorporated fashion pieces like beads, sequins etc into making them. Profits made from production of face mask would (I think) not be comparable to that made from other fashion pieces prior to the pandemic.

“But, at least a new niche was carved and at the end of the day, little profits are better than no profits at all. The lockdown has been eased and business for me is gradually picking up. Business is not what it used to be but that’s why it’s important to think of new ways to move ahead.

Anita Ukah

“Also, accessibility of textiles for production of items by local brands may present its own challenges, as finding particular type of fabrics over time is not assured due to the fact that they are mostly imported into the country. 

“So, tackling the issue would involve local production of textiles and materials and this is not common as running and maintaining such an establishment would come at a great cost.” 

“However, E-commerce businesses are actually best in times like this as business still goes on whilst keeping safe. Regarding online stores and Social media, there’s a higher tendency of reaching a wider range of customers coupled with a high consumer base for almost anything on social media, thereby making business activities via E-commerce platforms certainly advised in times like this,” Uzoleatheratelier, Founder and Creative Director, Anita Ukah explains during an exclusive interview with theparakeetshow.com 

Anita Ukah

Meanwhile, we would be turning a blind eye if we do not recognise that there are prominent limitations such as, scarcity of quality affordable fabrics, drop in sales of clothing items and fashion merchandise, order cancellations, inability to gather; amongst many others. All of these affect segments of the fashion industry, majorly Fashion Designing, Modelling, Photography, and slightly Fashion Publications. But, if the African Fashion industry pulls resources together to enable a joint and much solid impact in the global market, such would sporadically influence the positioning of Africa as a 1st or 2nd World Fashion Capital. Owing to this, truly some parts of Africa would benefit more while others less, but this would be based on principles of offer and acceptance where what is offered meets the global needs and demands of fashion savvies.

Anita Ukah
Categories
Music

Rising Music Sensation, Dark Ruby Reveals Career Scoops

Following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the creative industry has been left to evolve into a survival nature and style of operation, whereby Artists have had to depend heavily on generating revenue as well as reach to their audience via online music streaming and purchasing platforms. Thus, ensuring digitalisation emerging as the new order of the day for content distribution and consumption due to the lockdown which has hindered Artists from the avenue to perform their Art live on stage, at shows, in front of cheering fanatics.  Many have had to resort to live performances via their social media pages. Although, everyone can tell it doesn’t come close to the feeling and energy both sides let off at live shows. 

Meanwhile, in the Nigerian music industry, Lagos based singer and song writer, Dark Ruby’s case is as peculiar, as she is confident and gives off an energetic vibe. For a Female indie Artist, she had the ability to express herself, thus portraying an underlying intelligence.

Also, anyone who understands the game knows becoming and sustaining a career as an independent music Artist is no piece of cake. To begin with, self-determination to push one’s career without any major label/corporation’s financial backing with contracts, or a long network of marketing and promotional strategies is a journey for only those who dare. 

 

Speaking to her exclusively for theparakeetshow.com was as interesting as it was eye opening, as she let us into her personal life, how covid-19 affected her career as a musician and what she thinks of Afro beat’s evolution in Nigeria.

According to her, “ Wizkid, Burnaboy and other Afro beat Artists opened an avenue for the Afro beat Sound to the world”. Damilola Fakomi presents the excerpts. 

Dark Ruby

Hi, can we meet you? 

Hi, I am Dark Ruby, a musician and a song writer. I started singing professionally in 2019 with my first single titled,  ‘Girl’ and then dropped my second single, ‘On You’ this year. 

What first got you into music? 

I will say I have always loved writing music from way back Primary school, which was when I started writing music and composing songs. Also, I come from a family of music, and my dad was a musician, my sisters love music, so I basically just got into music.

Which Artists would you love to collaborate with internationally and locally?

 Internationally I’ll love to collaborate with Kali Uchis, Kanye West, Jhene Aiko, Erykah Badu, Teyana Taylor, Rihanna, The Weekend ; whilst Locally, the likes of Burnaboy, Odunsi, Wande Coal, Niniola, Tiwa Savage 

If you could go open a show for any Artist who would it be, and why?

Rihanna, Rihanna because she gives us a good time and shows us that she is having fun on stage. Her energy is amazing.

Dark Ruby

What kind of songs do you sing in the shower if you do sing in there?

Singing in the shower is like a ritual for me, I sing soothing songs like Kali Uchis, Erykah Badu  and The Weekend

What would you have loved to do if not music?

I will be an Arts Teacher, as I love performing Arts. If it’s not music, it’s definitely something related to that, if I’m not dancing, I’m painting or doing something art related, a teacher or an OAP because I love conversing with people

At what events have you performed your music?

Medfest, at Freedom Park and Chums and friends

How would you describe and evaluate the emergence of Afro beat in Nigeria?

For a very long time Afro beat has been underrated. But, then with the arrival of Fela unto the scene, he shed more light on the sound. Wizkid, Burnaboy and other Afro beat Artists opened an avenue for the Sound to the world. And now international acts want to collaborate with us and want to work with the African Sound.

Dark Ruby, Lagos, August, 2020

What is your greatest motivation towards creating music?

I will say ‘feelings’’, it all depends on my mood, and experiences I have had with people generally.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an indie Artist?

Promotion, promoting music is a completely different thing. It is one thing to make music, it is another thing to promote the music as you have to push and make people listen to your music.

How has Covid-19 affected your career, negatively and positively?

 Negatively with the fact that I can’t produce my own music as I don’t have a home studio. Trust me, it is very frustrating when beats are available and you can’t get out to produce with the beats. 

Positively, it helped my writings as a song writer, I improved. I spent enough time in my room to compose and wrote a lot of songs while at home; Covid-19 showed me that I am really ready to do this music.

Dark Ruby

What legacy do you tend to leave behind for music?

My legacy is not to follow the crowd, I want people to listen to my music and know that this is something different; this is Dark Ruby from the moment they listen to the beats of my songs. I want to take people on a journey with my music.

How effective has social media been towards boosting your creativity and reach?

Social media has been positively effective as you can now promote your music yourself, and all you need is just to make the music, post it on different platforms and use social media to promote it for certain amount of money, and then friends help by reposting.

How responsible has the society been towards your latest single; “On You”?

The society has surprised me as right now I am seeing a star on my song and it is really overwhelming and I don’t expect my songs to be popular the way they are now as I have my doubts because RnB in Nigeria is somehow. The love and stream has been overwhelming. 

What message would you love to send across to your fans?

To my fans, no matter how absurd your dreams are even if it sounds crazy to you and others just do it, because our dreams are valid and we were brought into this world for a purpose , so no matter how crazy or scary it is, do it. Believe in yourself chase your dreams and don’t stop for anyone no matter what. For days when you feel down pick up from where you left and re-evaluate yourself.

Categories
Fashion

Wide Leg Pants, a Timeless Staple

Wide leg pants have become a timeless staple piece in fashion. Year after year, from red carpets to magazine covers, fashion lovers and consumers continue to include the wide leg pants into their shopping list and wardrobe. Wide leg pants cover up muffin tops and hold your tummy in if you select the high waist cut. You don’t need to be of model height to rock this hot trend. Wide leg pants are perfect fit pants that look good on everyone and easily hides insecurities. Flared pants can make a very classy look when paired with a fitted shirt. Probably the easiest stylish ways to wear wide-leg pants is pairing it with a slim fit crop top or a shirt tucked in for a more formal or serious finish; heels are always a hit with wide leg pants, in the case of taller women flat shoes match smoothly with it.

NIMI NWOFOR

 

NANCY ISIME
Although a slimming top is the easiest and most flattering way to wear wide pants, opting for a wide top creates a cool silhouette.
MIMI YINA
We’ve curated some more stylish wide leg pants looks below for you to take a cue from when you decide to wear yours.
STEPHAINiE COKER
ESTEE SHERIDAN
TOKE MAKINWA
ASOGWE ALEXANDRA