Nigeria's New Wave Designer
So Papa tell me about your upbringing!
I was born and raised on the mainland division of Lagos, Nigeria. The 4th child out of a complex polygamous background, with lots of girls as my siblings. At a very early age, I left Lagos for Abuja, to live with my Aunt, and that's where my first fashion memory recalls from a very prim and proper cousin who enjoys lots of American fashion brands and music. He wore only sport luxe and streetwear brands back then - He basically introduced me to fashion.
You started Maxivive when you were 15! How did you start to even conceptualize a label like this at that age?
I might have started at that early age but I had been exposed to high fashion, high street, sports luxe, and lots of music and books from my cousin. I left at about 11 years old, so it took 4 years to hibernate, digest and birth exactly what I wanted through a seed germination process.
Your brand faced lukewarm reception at its inception...did that encourage you to keep going or upset you?
The truth is, I was bothered and tried to “belong” in my early developmental stages but that obviously didn't work out well, so I rebelled. Thank God for that! It made me realize exactly who I am and has been helping thus far.
Where do you get your inspiration to design from?
I mean, I have a child and family psychology background, which makes me find interpersonal relationships, human interactions, psychology, culture, behavioral patterns and developments and a host of other things very interesting. So basically, any and everything inspires me.
You have two diffusion lines, correct? Tell me about them and why you created them.
To me, a design has to be a solution to a problem. I created the two other brands as solutions to the problems I see around and I have the capacity to solve in my own little way. Mxvv which is regarded as a sport luxe extension of Maxivive was created to fill the lack of indigenous sportswear brands in Nigeria. Bodun, the last one was me creating a line that tended towards the exclusive, limited edition high street clothing market.
I read somewhere that Nigerians don’t see Nigerian designers as being sophisticated. Do you agree with that statement?
Yes, I agree. But I believe things are changing, I mean sophistication is a variable of money, power, and luxury. Let's have the right investment in millions or even parent company formations like LVMH or KERINGS of the world focus on Nigeria and that sophistication would appear immediately.
How did you come up with changing your fashion seasons to Wet and Dry?
I mean, I found it very redundant to follow everything western even when it doesn't apply to our environment. It’s like copying in an exam hall without checking if you are writing the same paper as the one you are copying from. Why should I follow Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter when they don't exist here? Its Dry which is hot, Wet, which is Rainy and Harmattan which is very windy, dry, dusty and a mixture of cold chills and hot air. And on this, I pioneered the seasons accordingly. I love the western calendar so I still follow the pre season and main season calendars but the only difference is the title of the season and its functionality in terms of design creation and conceptualization.
People always describe Maxivive as “disrupting gender norms” but I feel like it's deeper than that. Your brand has been based off of an androgynous way of dressing, is that from personal experience?
Not necessarily...Although I am a strong believer of functionality and designing what people can wear, maybe on a purpose. Why design things you can’t wear yourself and be proud of? I like to see gender in most basic form which is human. You and I are first of all human before gender identification, this has always been the basis of my designs, however, I love to get logical and very functional, yet not cliche (my greatest enemy) with all I create.
I know you’ve had shows in Nigeria and South Africa, do you ever plan to ever show elsewhere?
Yes, I do. I have showcased in London as a part of the international fashion showcase (IFS) that happens on the London fashion week calendar, thanks to Lagos fashion and Design Week (LFDW) and British council through Style House Files (SHF), Omoyemi Akerele for making that happen. New York is definitely a dream showcase destination for me.
What is your most bizarre talent?
Human resource management
Where can we buy Maxivive?