Renowned Nigerian fashion designer Adeola Adele, the visionary founder of ’29byAdelé,’ is making waves in the fashion industry with her latest collection of women’s suits, dresses, and blazers.
Following a showcase at the exclusive ATFH ECFW S23 in Manhattan New York, Adele’s creations have garnered attention for their ability to provide timeless tailored essentials that not only accentuate individual body types but also empower individuals to embrace their unique personal style. With a commitment to inclusivity and self-expression, Adele’s designs are redefining the fashion landscape and leaving a lasting impact on those who wear them.
In an exclusive interview with BusinessDay media’s Anthony Udugba, we delve deeper into the world of fashion and creativity through the lens of the renowned Nigerian fashion designer, Adeola Adele. The interview unravels the inspirations, motivations, and aspirations that drive Adele’s visionary work.
It also explores the intersection of fashion, empowerment, and personal style, shedding light on the transformative power of Adele’s designs and the impact they are making on the global fashion stage.
What inspired you to become a fashion designer, and how did you get your start in the industry?
Inspired by a personal journey, the creation of 29ByAdelé was born out of a desire for the perfect fit and a passion for fashion. As a young girl with a creative spirit, I have always wanted to be more than a regular girl who could whip up a nice piece and bask in the euphoria of incoming compliments. Being smaller in size, finding clothes that truly embraced my body type was a challenge for me. Determined to overcome this hurdle, I delved into the world of fashion, creating pieces that celebrated my own unique style.
To my delight, whenever I wore my own creations, others were captivated by the designs and eager to have one for themselves so I got into the industry by making Abayas/ kimonos via Adelé collection & after a while, changed to 29ByAdelé, with a vision to provide timeless and impeccably tailored essentials that empower individuals to embrace their own bodies and personal style. Today, 29ByAdelé stands as a testament to my passion, craftsmanship, and commitment to delivering fashion that makes everyone feel beautiful and confident.
How would you describe your design aesthetic, and what sets your work apart from other designers in Nigeria?
My design aesthetic is a blend of modern simplicity and timeless elegance. It embraces clean lines, minimalism, and a focus on functionality. I strive for a balance between form and function, creating designs that are visually appealing while remaining practical and user-friendly. The mix of color palettes, subtle textures, and thoughtful attention to detail are key elements of my design style. Ultimately, I aim to create designs that are both visually pleasing and purposeful, bringing beauty and usability together.
How do you balance your creative vision with the need to make a profit, and what strategies have you used to successfully monetize your designs?
This is a tough one for me, still learning but I try my best to understand the audience needs, offer a range of products to cater to different customer segments at different price points while prioritizing quality and craftsmanship and importantly staying true to my artistic integrity.
In the drama surrounding fuel subsidy and rise in cost of living in Nigeria, Can you speak to the economic challenges facing fashion designers in Nigeria, and how have you navigated these challenges in your own career?
Well, fuel subsidy has led to inflation in the price of fuel which in turn has put an upward pressure on production costs generally also affecting some consumer purchasing power. With supply chain and logistics , there are so many delays in delivery/pick-up times which can lead to customer dissatisfaction but I have been able to embrace few sustainable practices and it has helped mitigate cost increases. I am constantly trying to reach a wider audience as well as do more collaboration to strengthen our presence in the market.
What pricing strategies do you use for your designs, and how do you determine what to charge for each piece?
Pricing is a common challenge many new businesses have. I struggled with that when I started. Let your products speak for itself, if you genuinely believe your prices represent value then you should design your branding, communication & marketing to show value. When it comes to pricing strategies for my designs, I consider various factors such as the complexity of the design, the time and effort involved, the market demand, and the value I believe my design brings to my clients. I aim to strike a balance between fair compensation for my creative work and providing a competitive pricing structure.
For fashion pieces, determining what to charge involves considering factors such as cost of materials, production expenses, labor, and overhead costs.
Additionally, market research plays a crucial role in understanding the pricing dynamics within the fashion industry. It’s important to consider the perceived value of the fashion piece, its uniqueness, the brand’s reputation, and the target market’s willingness to pay. You can’t watch the level of craftsmanship that goes into making a piece and then question the price. My designs are staple pieces that never go out of style, they are an investment
Can you give us an idea of what the average monthly income is for a fashion designer in Nigeria, and what factors contribute to variations in income within the industry?
This can vary widely depending on several factors such as experience, skill level, client base, location, brand reputation, and market demand. Income ranges can also vary significantly within the industry and these are just my estimates; at entry level, a designer can earn between N50,000 – N150,000, at mid level, a designer can earn between N150,000 – N500,000 and at an experienced level, I estimate N500,000 upwards.
How do you market your designs to reach a wider audience, and what role has technology and social media played in your success?
I consistently establish an online presence by Leveraging social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok. Regularly share high-quality images and engaging content that highlights my designs and behind-the-scenes glimpses. I engage with my audience through comments and direct messages and importantly something I am keen on doing more often; build a community with email marketing.
I strongly believe collaboration is a powerful tool to business growth, long-term success and growing our network. Recently I collaborated with a fashion house to showcase my designs, access new markets and gain exposure at the East Coast Fashion week, New York where I received overwhelming positive feedback from audiences & fashion enthusiasts.
Technology has made it easier for me to showcase your designs to a global audience, while social media platforms have provided accessible and powerful tools to engage with potential customers, create brand loyalty, and drive sales.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers in Nigeria, and what do you think are the keys to success in this industry?
Build something that is scalable, that can work even if you are on holiday. Plan your finances well, save enough money and make sure you are debt free – the last part is very IMPORTANT!
Success in the fashion industry is a combination of talent, hard work, creativity, business acumen, and a deep understanding of your target market. By nurturing your skills, building a strong brand, fostering relationships, utilizing technology effectively, and consistently delivering high-quality designs and customer experiences, you can increase your chances of succeeding as a fashion designer in Nigeria.