by Yemi Olowu
Possibly the youngest to ever feature on YNaija’s Cutting Edge, the talent behind the Andrea Iyamah line is a Media and Economics student at McMaster University in Canada. Dumebi Iyamah tells us about juggling school and running a design label.
Designing is something I have grown up with. I have always seen myself in the fashion industry. Art has always been one of my many interests and so has fashion. As a child I was always good at drawing and competed in a number of art competitions. Choosing to work in the fashion industry has always been at the back of my mind. I use to hand sew a lot of small clothes for my dolls as a child. I would first draw them on a scrap piece of paper then try and find a way to create what I have designed. With time I started designing little skirts and tops that I had tailored for me.
What are the fabrics you like working with?
I like working with all sorts of fabrics. I don’t have a staple fabric that I must work with. I try to be as versatile in my use of fabrics for every design I make in order to achieve a difference in my designs.
Which international designer would you like to work with?
There are a number of international designers I would love to work with such as Aquilano Rimondi. I love their designs and the level of creativity he exhibits. Its very ‘my kind of style’ and I love their taste for beautiful yet delicate fabrics.
Who are your favorite designers locally?
I love Lanre da Silva – how she is very inspired by the old school sort of fashion. She’s one of the Nigerian designers I always wanted to work with.
How long have you worked as a designer?
I have been designing for so many years, but only professionally for less than a year. I started my line early this year and I didn’t expect to have gone this far.
What matters to you most as a designer?
I always want to see myself in every design I create, which is one of the reasons why I use a lot of colours. It’s important to me that that the people who order my clothes look and feel great in what they wear. I make it a goal for me to grow in creativity and more ideas.
What inspires your designs?
The most trivial things inspire me but I am inspired most by my art. The personality of a painting sometimes inspires me to create a design that usually acts as a voice for my art. The fashion industry is booming and when I see the works of many designers it drives me to work harder. If the industry is moving fast, it’s advisable to be at the same pace.
What are the problems you face as a designer?
In Canada it’s been hard joggling school and running my line, considering I tailor all designs myself. Fetching specific fabrics is a bit more difficult in Nigeria for me. I made the marketing system of my line to be limited and exclusive in order to reduce the workload I have.
How do you rate the Nigerian fashion industry?
It’s moving really fast, I always hear the “Everybody is now a designer” in a lot of places. A lot of creative designers are springing up the industry making it very competitive. Its good to know Africa’s fashion industry has grown tremendously compared to the last few years.
How do you think the government can support fashion designers?
Developing institutions that train a wide range of people professionally in fashion would help the country compete with international designers. In Nigeria it almost seems as if, if your not a Lawyer, doctor or engineer whatever else you want to do isn’t good enough. It would be great for the government to support not just the fashion industry but also many other industries that are looked down on.
If you were not a designer what would you have been?
If I weren’t a designer I would probably be a business woman. I love thinking about new business ideas and also taking risks, challenging myself to do new things. Most people around me feel I should have been a lawyer, because I’m confident, vocal and usually win arguments.
What do you have for aspiring designers?
I’ll advice to have a positive and strong heart towards your work. If a lot of effort is put into anything in life, it’s hard for it to fail. When I’m faced with difficult times, I try not to give up but work even harder to be better.
Where do you see your label in the next ten years?
I see Andrea Iyamah to have been fully accomplished and known by a wide range of people. I’d like my label to have expanded into manufacturing of handbags and accessories.