BusinessDay

Iretidayo Zaccheus is the founder of Street Souk, putting Africa’s Streetwear fashion on a global scale

At a time where people still very much fancy the remarks that comes with the luxury fashion market, it is imperative we acknowledge those who are frontlining other sectors of the industry, especially streetwear. Ireti Zaccheus, the Founder of Street Souk is one of those putting Africa’s streetwear fashion on a global scale. The 21year old Nigerian-British creative is creating a brand hugely inspired by her mother’s love for fashion. After completing an undergraduate program in the University of Manchester as an International Business Finance and Economics major in 2020, Ireti is currently juggling a Master’s degree in Marketing Strategy and Innovation at CASS Business School, London.

Hi Ireti, it’s really great to have you here. Kindly tell us about Street Souk.

Thank you so much. Street Souk was a convention built for people to come, share and show their brands/ideas. It was a platform designed with the intentions of creating a street arena where people could shop physically. We are the hub of other brands, as we provide a platform for people to network, collaborate and create a community.

Read Also: Meet Bamidele ilerioluwa who is changing Nigeria’s Fashion Narrative 

Amazing. How do you get brands on this platform – Do you work with just Nigerian brands?
Well, we initially started with reaching out to a few brands with some form of established digital presence. Also, we know quite a number of brands who are doing amazing work, and have potentials for growth. Therefore, we reached out to them, telling them about the amazing work we do at Street Souk, and how they could benefit off the convention. However, as popularity of Street Souk grew, a lot of brands have been reaching out in advance about their intended involvement. The responses and conversations we’ve had with these people has been overwhelming. Our last convention had over a hundred entries. This means that we have to go through rigorous vetting processes to ensure the brands who are really putting in the work gets an opportunity on our platform – Quality control, well established and organized collection, artistic measures, etc.
Also, we’re solely (right now) just working with Nigerian brands. But as we progress, we would shift gears into other African countries – Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, etc are already showing interest. They know the popping nature of Homecoming, and I’m glad. Nothing goes out without going through here.

Wow. Sounds like a lot of work.
It is, trust me. However, I do think that a major take home and reason for all this is how it turns out in the end. I want people to see and appreciate the work we put in, into bringing the best to them.

Mmm. Why is this important to you though?
I found that (young) people needed a community where they could express themselves. Young people need a space where they would feel like they belonged without any form of judgment – you know, nails, hair, clothes, shoes, just anything they feel connected to, anything they feel makes them their true authentic selves; and I wanted Street Souk to provide that. Also, I wanted people to know and understand that there are a lot of potentials that emanate from Africa.
Right. No lies here. Tell me about your Off-White collaboration with Virgil Abloh.
Oh; so, I was on a homecoming panel on how Africa could rejuvenate the street wear culture, and it so happens that Virgil was a part of it too. He liked the vision, and wanted to be a part of the community. It so happened that he was part of a campaign, I Support Young Black Businesses; therefore, it made sense that he wanted to promote what we did at Street Souk. He came on board, and we shared ideas on how the collaboration would be mutually beneficial.

And how has that been? Also, any future collaborations?
It was amazing. You know, to be honest, nobody gets to rate you or your brand until you receive international validation – it’s a really sad thing. Street Souk started before the Off-White collaboration with Virgil, so it was really great to see a mass number of people interested. I have also gained a lot of international recognition from it. I’m now in spaces, and people are likening me to the “cool factor.” This is just the beginning. The vision is still there, and we will continue to push further.
We would potentially do this again, exclusive to Street Souk. We would plan for the next few years, since we still need the hype factor. We are also looking to collaborate with more African and non-African brands.

Wow. You’re doing so much, and it’s great to see. What is the most exciting part in all of this, Ireti?
For me, it’s seeing the growth of brands, how they’re elevating, and how they’re rebranding. It’s great to see because we want to create a leading street convention like China’s and Japan’s. I love how this convention has brought people together and how it has provided them with reasons to further on, especially brands who are starting little. I remind myself when I hit a hard wall that I’m really not doing this for myself, but for them. They’re like a form of motivation for me.
Super. And during this course, what would you say were the major challenges?
That would be working with sponsors and understanding that they demand certain deliverables. Initially, getting sponsors was pretty difficult. But as we grew, brands like Paper Magazine and First Bank decided to support our course. Budget sizing was also difficult at first, seeing that we had a lot of crazy ideas. Also, a lot of brands weren’t comfortable with the positions they were in, but we had to make them understand the rewards they stood to gain. Then, there was the fear of Covid and its transmittance.

Should we be expecting any this year?
Of course. Somewhere on the 18th or 19th of December. There really isn’t any fixed date yet, but it has to be the second week of December, give or take.
People, especially young creatives, have been motivated by your story and drive. The undertaken processes, and how you keep trying to pull a convention even amidst a pandemic. What would be your final last words to those who are constantly inspired by your story?
Wow. Thank you so much. I think what I would advise is that they be authentic. Do not copy people, and be consistent. Believe in yourself because that’s when you’ll be sure what you want. Always trust your guts. Be hardworking, determined and never forget why you started. Doing something for the right reasons gave me my confidence and essentially shaped me to the person I am today. Keep grinding and do not be intimidated by the successes of others. God rewards, keep working hard. It helps.