She`s the new kid on the bloc as far as creativity is concerned in the fashion business, that’s Toju Foyeh, Future Awards` New Designer of The Year 2012. There`s no gain saying that, Toju is not one of the run of the mill fashion designers owing to her clientele base and score-sheet in so long a time. The drop dead beauty fielded questions with News Editor, Faith Irabor during a recent meeting in Ikoyi, Lagos where she spoke on her art of fashion designing and unique selling point. Below are the excerpts:
Can we get to know how you came about the idea of your kind of business?
I’ve always known that I wanted to go into fashion and actually my parents owned a fashion house when I was growing up and my grandmother was a designer as well, so it’s something I’ve always known I wanted to do and after I finished my Law degree I decided to go to a fashion school and then I moved back and I set up.
But how prepared are you for the industry considering the fact that it`s quite challenging?
Hopefully my style, because I am focusing more on evening wears and I know a lot of Nigerian celebrities often want to come out in the best evening gowns on the red carpets. Besides we already have lots of designers who are focusing on more smart types of clothing or more different types of clothing so I’m focusing on this specific area.
You said style would stand you out, in your own context what’s your definition of style?
Style for me is a reflection of your personality as well as a reflection of your mood and those are the general things that inspire me and I feel with the types of fabrics that I work with as well, I have a unique selling point.
What kind of materials do you use?
See, it depends, let me explain again that what I focus on mostly is evening gowns and that’s what is going to be seen in my store though there would also be designs made with other fabrics and also at affordable rate. Then I also get some fabrics for my evening wears abroad.
So we won’t be seeing the usual Ankara made fabrics in different styles?
No, I don’t think so
But you’re wearing a beautifully designed short gown with Ankara fabrics?
Yes, I agree but I mean this is not what I planned on selling at my store so, I don’t want to follow the trend of what everybody is already doing, what I want to have at my store is stuff that you might not get to see anywhere else, everyone is making Ankara so if you don’t have to come to me for Ankara you can go down the road for Ankara, so what you see at my store will be things that you wouldn’t see down the road.
But would you put your evening dresses to suits trends in our local fabrics?
When you say local fabrics what do you mean? Ankara is not local fabrics, it`s not made here I mean it`s not a Nigerian fabrics, it`s made in Denmark.
On the contrary how do you intend to break into the market and stay on top because it’s highly competitive?
That’s why I said earlier about my main selling point, it is going to be a combination of stuffs like I said, it’s going to be my own interpretation so it could be fabrics, it could be colours, it could be cuts, it could be forms, I mean dress forms and things like that, like if you want me to make you an Ankara dress, it’s going to be an Ankara dress but not the regular type that you see down the road, basically it`s the details that will make my clothes stands out.
So who are your targeted clients, then are students, I mean fashion conscious girls welcome too?
I think it might go a bit too mature for secondary school girls so I would say the age range would probably be from 21.
How do you describe the other outfits in your store?
Yes, the store is going to be loaded with different designs and styles ranging from the likes of chiffon blouses, baggy pants, evening wears and the rest, but like I said I’m not going to stop doing my evening wear thing 80 percent.
You won the Future Awards 2012 New Designer of the year amidst other strong contenders, what would you say was the magic?
I feel really honoured for even being nominated for the award, I mean I was surprised. I remembered telling a friend of not being too sure I could win it because the category was tight and as for the magic I will say God and the couple of jobs that I have done.
Can you mention some?
(Laughs) I think I did a lot but I did it in a short space of time. I remembered being noticed since 2010 when we started clothing Tiwa Savage, I started working with Tiwa as far back as then and even till now and in 2011 we did Arise fashion week which was also huge, followed by series of magazine covers including Wow Magazine cover, Genevieve Magazine. We’ve also clothed Agbani Darego, Waje, Goldie and many more.
Which would you still see as the most challenging?
I think the Newspaper outfit on This Day style basically because we had to make 2 outfits neatly with This Day newspaper and for, I think MBGN and Miss Nigeria, that I think has been my most difficult challenge till date because you are working with Newspaper, It`s not like working with fabrics, it`s not like sewing something, you actually need to construct it with things like glue, pins, hangers, it was pretty tough but thank God it came out fine. For the This Day one, I basically have to form a shape to make to a blouse to actually make the base and then put on the paper and that involved things like cutting the paper into different pattern. And then I worked on different projects as well as Charity shows and then Arise 2012, I also did African Fashion week last year 2011 and I also did New York Fashion week last year 2011, so in a short pace of time I’ve actually done those things.
Where are you from?
Are you married?
This is the second time you have asked me (laughs) do I look old enough to be married
How old are you?
I just turned 24
Are you in any relationship?
Can’t discuss that
When you are not doing fashion designing, what do you do?
Baking, cooking. I bake different things, pies, pizza, cakes, I enjoy baking I also cook a lot and I went to cooking school when I was very young.
Any embarrassment in the course of the job?
I think I once had a client, I won’t call it an embarrassment but I think she was just trying to be smart really, she asked for something, so say for example she asked for this dress and came to the show room, she wore it she was fine, she wore it out then she came back after wearing it, she wore it in my store and looked in the mirror left, right everything was fine then she wore it out then she came back oh no maybe you should take the sleeve, let’s make it sleeveless so I took off the sleeve, she looked left, right was okay with it, wore it out (laughs) came back and was like…, the things is that she kept trying to alter the dress so that each time it look like a different dress. That was crazy but I generally have happy clients, I always form a relationship with my client, a lot of my clients are now my friends, generally everything has been good so far.
It’s been nice chatting with you?