- 20 April, 2018
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There is inspiration everywhere. Learn about finding inspiration in everyday life through our story.
What inspires you?
There is inspiration everywhere. Knowing what inspires you helps you understand yourself. In the creative field especially, this helps others understand you.
I get asked “what inspires you?”. I usually say art but I am more inspired by the artists and how their personalities informed or influenced their art. Picasso’s jealousy, Michael Jackson’s yearn for perfection and Pink Floyds’s distaste for publicity are good examples. Similarly, Nina Simone’s fearlessness and Jean-Paul Gautier’s cheekiness have helped shape and produce extraordinary work that we know and love. In other words, I find the back stories much more interesting. This is because I can connect to the human behind the masterpiece.
I am most fascinated by cultural influences, and why Picasso is my favourite. In addition, he in turn was inspired by African masks. I had the Eureka moment for the direction of U.Mi-1 when I saw this painting. I had seen it many times before. However, in that moment, I really saw it. To me it spoke of inclusiveness.
Finding Inspiration in Everyday Life
How did I go from the word inclusiveness to the concept for a fashion brand? By looking around me. I was living in Tokyo at the time, a place rich with traditions, wonderful colours especially through its seasons. I had also come to be in Japan via the UK, where I had lived and schooled too. Through living in Lagos, London and Tokyo, I’ve learnt that all cultures share more similarities than differences. In effect, the fashion brand was a melting pot of all cultures I had absorbed.
U.Mi-1 incorporates elements from the three countries I call home. It is a mix of Nigerian style, British tailoring and Japanese craftsmanship. With its unique style, it embodies cultural inclusiveness and it possesses enduring value. Above all, it inspires dialogue. I wanted that through U.Mi-1’s all-embracing concept, you, me, everyone, can connect with the heartbeat of the African continent.
At U.Mi-1, we want you to see African fashion beyond its patterns and prints. Nigeria alone is made up of 600 different tribes which is a mini universe in itself. Every tribe has its unique culture and individual style. Our collections celebrate this diversity. For me, U.Mi-1 embodies a discovery of my people as each collection starts with research. I want to forge a better understanding of Nigerians through the lens of other nations. In addition, I want you see yourself through us.
I was trained by a Savile Row tailor. At age 16 he was an apprentice couturier to the King of Swaziland. He taught me to pattern cut and appreciate craftsmanship. I cut 80% of U.Mi-1’s patterns. It is also a very handy skill especially as I cannot draw. However, this flaw has resulted in beautiful mistakes and new designs when the team misinterpret my ideas.
I honed my pattern-cutting skills in Japan, where precision and perfectionism rule. There, the finishing of the inside of a garment is just as important as the design outside. I have interpreted this as a love for personal luxury. In a U.Mi-1 garment, you discover something anew with every wear. Above all, there is a passion for the story behind the clothes rather than the materialistic side of it. These are the building blocks of U.Mi-1. We hope this permeates our brand in every way. There’s confidence in our stride but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. What embodies you? What inspires you?