by Yemi Olowu
Gbemisola Johnson, is the designer behind Johnson O’eclat designs, a Nigerian fashion accessories brand. The label designs and makes beautiful and affordable handcrafted clutch bags, totes, wallets, slippers and belts. All O’eclat goods are locally made – it’s almost too good to be true!
What is the origin of your label?
O’Eclat is a derivative of my name Oluwagbemisola and Eclat which means brilliance of success or style in the fashion sense.
Why leather goods?
O’Eclat is not just about leather. We also infuse African fabrics like ankara, aso-oke and other beautiful materials into our designs. The brand came out of passion and an ongoing love affair with African rich prints and leather.
What was the first piece you ever designed?
An oversize clutch.
What matters to you most as a designer?
The quality of materials used, the aesthetics and the appreciation of efforts we have put into each piece.
What inspires your designs?
Inspiration comes from everywhere but most importantly we merge creativity with usability.
What are the problems you face as a designer?
There are challenges in every industry no doubt which includes funding, electricity, distribution etc, but we have managed to work around it because if you dwell too much on it one might get swallowed by it.
How do you rate the Nigerian fashion industry?
It’s improving and quite impressive.
If you were not a designer what would you have been?
That’s a tough one (laughs). I have my mind on so many things. Though I studied Microbiology from the University of Ilorin, I presently work as a business manager with a trading company in Lagos and if I was not designing my own stuff to sell, I’d definitely be trading finished goods.
Who are your favourite designers?
Elie Saab and Karl Lagerfeld
What do you say to aspiring designers?
Stay positive and believe in yourself.
Where do you see your label in the next ten years?
I see O’eclat designs as an international brand with global presence in major cities.