Excerpts from the interview…
Dozzy Nnamdi Obinwanne is the creative director/CEO of Dozzy Couture. He is also a member of Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria, FADAN. In this exclusive interview withVictor Udoh, he speaks about his love for fashion and challenges facing the industry in Nigeria. Excerpts:
Why did you go into fashion?
I have been in love with fashion ever since I was a kid. I started sewing in secondary school, but did not want to go into it fully then. I later studied Geology and Mining from Federal University of Technology, Owerri; worked in a lot of firms before deciding to open my own clothing line, since fashion is something I know how to do best. I knew I was good at it, and decided to go into it fully. I therefore took more professional courses on fashion; since then, God has been great.
How was your growing up years?
It was not easy, but I thank God for the kind of parents I have. They gave me the opportunity and have supported me all the way. My mum bought my first sewing machine.
If not for fashion what else would you do?
That would be professional geology because I studied geology and mining. Maybe I would have been in the oil industry if not for fashion. In fact I was there until I ventured into fashion fully.
How would you rate our fashion industry?
Recently, we are making waves, and I believe we would get there in time. We may not be able to compete with international market right now, but we are trying to create our own markets. So, gradually the Nigerian fashion industry will get there.
Right now, after this show, some fashion designers in Nigeria and I would be going to Cotonou for ECOWAS Fashion Week coming up next month. No doubt, we are going places.
How would you advise the government on fashion?
One challenge facing most fashion designers is fund. Take electricity; we all work with electricity. Without power, we cannot do anything. Also if there is fund, I believe the fashion industry in Nigeria will make progress. If the government can come in and support the fashion industry, like they are doing with the Nollywood, it would be great for the industry, its people and the country.
What basic challenges do you face as a fashion designer?
The basic challenges we are having now is electricity; if we have constant electricity in Nigeria it will help us to do our job better. Moreover, we will achieve excellence in our work.
How do you give back to the society?
Presently, I am giving back to the society through my clothing line. I have a lot of people I trained, which is a way of empowering people. That way I have helped the society.
Who inspires you?
Several fashion designers who I respect so much, inspire me. In Nigeria, there are the likes of Mudi Africa; I love his stitches a lot and have learnt much from how he handles the business side of fashion. Yomi Casual is another individual I respect so much; I love his consistence in the business. So is KUO Couture, who I respect so much and all the members of FADAN. I give them kudos.
What is your philosophy of life?
I am a free person and don’t bother myself too much. I do the best I can and leave the rest for God.
On daily basis, how do you get inspired?
I am inspired by day-to-day activities. It may be what I see along the way, sometimes it could be structure, building, people and my environment.
How did you feel following your first sewing experience?
I felt good because one of the first persons I sewed for was my relative and brother, and they appreciated it. I must say a big thank you to them because they have always been there for me, especially my wife.
How do you cope amid all the big names in the fashion industry?
I don’t see any designer as my competitor; neither am I scared of any competitor. That aside, I tend to go the extra mile and do things in an extraordinary manner. People love new styles.
How will you compare our fashion to that of Europe and America?
What they do don’t really inspire me because we have our own style. I tell people every day that instead of imitating them, we should improve on our style. By doing this, we would make progress. In fact, we are there already.