Bisoya Adeyanju, a creative stylist, fashion enthusiast and founder of SLANE, a fashion company, speaks with YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE, on mentorship, women and leadership, her inspiration and business sustenance among other issues.
What is your take on leadership and mentorship especially in the fashion industry?
I believe leadership and mentorship are important in the Nigerian fashion industry because they provide guidance and direction for individuals and businesses in the industry. A strong leader can set a clear vision and strategy for their business, inspire and motivate their team to work towards that vision. A mentor can provide valuable advice and support to emerging designers and entrepreneurs, helping them navigate the challenges of the industry and develop their skills and knowledge. Additionally, strong leadership and mentorship can help to promote innovation and growth within the fashion industry and can also contribute to the development of a more sustainable and inclusive industry.
What motivated you to establish SLANE?
I have always had passion for fashion and a deep appreciation for the way clothing can be used to express one’s personal style and individuality. I have always loved experimenting with different fabrics and designs and I have always been fascinated by the way that fashion can be used to tell a story or convey a message. My love for fashion grew stronger when I travelled to different parts of Nigeria and interacted with people with different cultures, I saw how much they use fashion as an expression of their culture and that was what inspired me to start my own fashion design company. I wanted to create designs that would allow people to express themselves in a unique and authentic way, and to use my platform to promote diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry in Nigeria. Additionally, I wanted to create a sustainable fashion company which will not only help the environment but will also be ethically sound. Moreover, SLANE has always been a dream for me. Growing up, I always used needles and thread to modify my outfits to be exactly what I liked so as I developed the passion, it all came naturally to me.
How badly has the economy affected your business considering the challenges businesses are facing now?
The high rate of inflation and the overall state of the economy is affecting business owners in the fashion industry. The fashion industry, like many others, was also heavily impacted by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many retailers have had to close their physical stores and shift to online sales, while others have been forced to file for bankruptcy.
Additionally, supply chain disruptions have led to delays in the production and delivery of new clothing lines and equipment. Overall, the industry has been hit hard and it may take some time for it to fully recover. We also see this impact even in our daily transactions. For example, I visit the market weekly and there is constantly an increase in price on materials I use in sewing. This significantly impacts the business returns and its efforts to stay profitable.
What will stand a SLANE woman out?
As a designer, I try my best to focus on creating clothing that appeals to a wide range of women, rather than identifying specific qualities that a woman wearing my clothing must possess. My designs are created with the goal of making women feel confident, stylish, and comfortable in their clothing. I strive to create pieces that are versatile and can be worn in a variety of settings, and that flatter a wide range of body types and sizes. Additionally, I aim to create clothing that is of high quality, made from durable materials and constructed well.Keeping all this in mind, a SLANE woman will be confident , stylish and feel every ounce of feminine energy in her.
What inspires you?
As a fashion designer, my inspiration is a combination of diverse sources.
The natural world and its colours, patterns and textures inspire me very greatly and this is easily reflected in my work. I also draw a wealth if inspiration for new silhouettes, fabrics and embellishments from historical fashion and costume design.
Then there is obviously “the streets” or Street style as professionals call it, which can give a sense of what people are currently wearing and what they are looking for in their clothing.Other designers or artists, whose work can serve as a source of inspiration and a way to push the boundaries of what is possible in fashion design also inspire me.
Living in Lagos, socio-economic and cultural changes also play a large role in the inspirations of my design and how those changes are reflected in the way people dress.
Ultimately, my biggest inspiration would be a constantly evolving mix of all these sources, as well as my own personal experiences, emotions, and creativity.
Have you been able to express your creativity through fashion designing?
As a fashion designer, my creativity is often expressed through the design and creation of clothing and accessories. I tend to use my imagination and artistic skills to create unique and visually interesting garments, often incorporating different textures, colours, and silhouettes to create a cohesive collection. I may also draw inspiration from various sources such as art, architecture, nature, and cultural traditions to create a cohesive story or theme in my designs. Ultimately, my creativity is expressed through the combination of technical skill and personal vision that goes into each piece of clothing or accessory in SLANE.
What do you like most about being a fashion designer?
A favourite part of being a fashion designer is the creative process of designing and bringing an idea to life. From sketching initial concepts to selecting fabrics and colours, the process of creating a new collection or piece is both challenging and fulfilling. Additionally, I enjoy the ability to push boundaries and experiment with new ideas. I also have the opportunity to express my personal style and vision through my work and seeing the designs come to life.
Furthermore, I have the ability to create something that is both beautiful and functional and make a meaningful impact on the fashion industry and culture.
Being able to work with a team of talented individuals, having the ability to be part of the whole process of creating a clothing line, and the constant evolution of fashion industry makes this profession exciting and challenging for me.
I also have the opportunity to travel and to be in touch with different cultures and trends, which can inspire my work and broaden their perspective.
Being able to see my designs on the runway or worn by customers can be a source of pride and a great sense of accomplishment.
What skill can a fashion designer not do without?
An important skill to have as a fashion designer is the ability to create accurate and detailed technical sketches and specifications for cloths. This skill is crucial for communicating design ideas effectively to other members of the design and production teams, as well as for ensuring that the final product meets the desired specifications.
Another important skill is the ability to understand and work with different fabrics, textiles, and construction techniques. This includes knowledge of draping, pattern making and sewing, as well as an understanding of how various fabrics and materials behave and can be used in different designs.
In addition to these technical skills, a fashion designer should also possess strong creative and aesthetic abilities; these include an eye for colour, proportion, and silhouette, as well as the ability to create cohesive and visually interesting collections.
Moreover, the ability to manage time and work well under pressure is a must-have for a fashion designer, as the industry is fast-paced and requires meeting deadlines for multiple projects at the same time. Strong communication and presentation skills are also important for fashion designers, as they need to present their designs to clients, buyers, and other industry professionals.
Lastly, a fashion designer should be passionate and curious about fashion, trends and be open-minded to new ideas, in order to stay current and be inspired.
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