Omoyemi Akerele is the driving force behind the development of the West African fashion industry and a woman of many accolades. Founder and executive director of Lagos Fashion Design Week and founder of Nigeria's first image consultancy, The Style House Files, Akerele now has a new title to add—that of KISUA's deputy chairman to the board. She is deeply passionate about the potential of African fashion. A background in law has allowed her to look beyond the product to build the infrastructure needed to grow the potential of Africa's design talent into a sustainable, flourishing industry. "I could have settled into being a fashion designer, but I needed to think deeper in order to make a real difference on an industry level" she explains. "Sometimes you have to push beyond what exists in order to create something better." Below Akerele describes her vision for realising the potential of African fashion and discusses her involvement with KISUA.
Her vision and work:
"I want to see an industry that thrives with a proper retail structure—a textile manufacturing industry where designers can go to reliably produce their garments... where there is a systemic process and access to funds. That's where we are moving towards, and until it happens, I won't stop."
The relevance of African fashion in an international context:
"The African aesthetic has been referenced for decades on the international fashion stage. So with its place already established, it will be even more interesting for designers of African heritage to be able to work within that aesthetic and successfully show it at an international level."
The significance of "Ubuntu":
"Ubuntu is about coming together and working as one... It's an African thing, our collective spirit."
KISUA's contribution to African Fashion:
"The realization that production has be standardized and presented on a certain scale, with consistent quality and finishing, that is KISUA's unique selling point, as well as its biggest contribution to changing African fashion."
Her decision to be deputy chairperson of KISUA:
"It was a no-brainer when you realize you share a vision [with KISUA], one common goal to create a lasting impact through proper infrastructure."
Images: Benjamin McMahon