Collins Onyemali is the helmsman of CEO Designers, a one-stop fashion establishment for all male outfits, leather works, accessories and perfumes. He further delved into styling, styling consultancy, outfit design and shoe customization.
Onyemali prides himself in meeting all male fashion expectations that are strictly made in Nigeria. Saturday Sun spoke to him at his showroom in Sangatedo.
When you say Chief Executive Officers (CEO’s), do you literally mean it? Is it only CEOs you cater for?
Yes, I am a fashion maker for the bosses, chief executive officers, and people who appreciate value, that is what it connotes. Our fashion outfit is not for everybody, it is for people who understand taste and quality. Those are the people we are here to serve. That is why we are called the CEO’s.
Being a professional at one time and still an executive officer myself, I found out that CEOs do not have readily available fitted clothes that befit their standards and status in Nigeria. This is wh they end up going abroad to get fitted clothes. I decided to bridge that gap. They don’t have to go abroad anymore to spend our Naira to buy Dollar, instead they have these products readily available to them at their disposal. It is one of the things that inspired us to be CEOs’ designers.
Paying more and getting less motivated me to go into fashion. It is only in Nigeria that you make compromises on your style. There are several issues one encounters when you patronize a tailor. One, he is possibly going to give you what you never bargained for, as in terms of finishing and all that. Then he will not deliver this job to you as at when needed or they give you less quality or unfinished products. Sometimes to get your clothes, you have to involve the police. All these variables are the reasons why I decided to go into fashion, to make it easier for people to patronize made in Nigeria goods and service.
At CEO’s, we don’t just make clothes for the sake of wearing clothes, we make functional yet status apparels. We take our attention to detail seriously as well as the body measurement and structure of the person. Our trademark is strictly tailored to size. Tailored to size means taking into consideration all the joints and body structure of a person to give you a nice fitting.
What is the biggest change in the Nigeria fashion industry today?
In Nigeria, a lot of the big bosses are beginning to appreciate our local styles. The population of those wearing natives outweigh the people wearing English. It is no longer an English affair. This is why you see more people going for conferences wearing natives. It has become the order of the day. Even the western world is embracing our style.
Which CEO would you like to dress if you were to make a pick? I will like to dress Femi Otedola. I have been following him on Instagram and when I see some of the outfits that he wears, I think we can make him look better. I will like to dress Dangote as well as otherCEOs. If you have money, your look should be very sharp and different from every other person who is struggling. If you have made money, what really defines your person is the cloth you wear because from a distance. It speaks louder than even a trumpet could sound.
Making outfits for CEO is a process. What makes your own process different?
Finishing and quality of fabrics makes my process different. A lot of fashion houses in Nigeria today stock low quality fabrics but we don’t compromise on that. We give you the best fabric quality to whoever that can afford it. That is why we are not for everybody.
How does CEO ensure customers’ measurements are accurate and reliable?
We have a pre-section wherein we sit with the customer and he gives us an insight what his ideas and fashion history is. We start our interview section with knowing what you suffered in the past, and then tell us what you expect of us. We make a sketch or presentation of that to him based on his own description.
Once the sketch is approved for production, we take body measurements which is called body detailing to ensure that the measurement with which the outfit will be produced is suited for that person. Invariably, it will be difficult if you give that person’s shirt to someone else to wear; it will not be the same because it is not tailored to suit that body structure and joint.
We hear the word business casual, what does it mean?
Business casual is dressing in the mildest form but still looks attractive and rich. Business casual entails dressing down but yet looking classy and expensive.
What is the toughest challenge you face about making clothes for CEOs?
Getting a CEO to come for pre-fitting is a challenge. It is called pre-fitting because the first time you make a cloth for someone, you expect that there could be one or two adjustments because some people like their clothes to be smart, some want it fitted, and some just want it good. Good means free, not like body-hugging cloth, so you find out that you have an issue when it comes to getting a CEO to come to fit his clothes. They are hardly available. Time is of essence to their business, we quite understand that. CEO’s are globetrotters. That is the challenge I face making clothes for CEOs.
There are also women CEOs, are they part of your clientele?
We have chosen our path. Our path is to make clothes for men, and male CEOs. This is our niche.