• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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‘Nigeria’s fashion is one-of-a-kind market that the world needs to discover’

‘Nigeria’s fashion is one-of-a-kind market that the world needs to discover’

Bob Cal is a celebrated fashion designer, television series producer, marketing, media and public relations practitioner.

The avid violinist based in New York, USA, has partnered with Brendance and Crusader, a Nigerian entertainment company, on several successful projects. In this interview, he unveils to Obinna Emelike, the dynamics of the fashion industry, its impact, his passion, preference for Nigeria, projects, among others. Excerpts.

Can you trail your journey in fashion-related television series and events?

I started my fashion career producing local fashion events. My first event was produced when I was still a college student. Titled ‘A Night in Tokyo’, this Japanese themed fashion show received critical acclaim, huge sponsors and major media coverage. My first professional experience was an internship with CNN Latino, which was producing morning show segments on fashion. As an intern, I pitched original fashion segments that the programming directors loved. The internship led to producing fashion segments for the CNN Latino channel. My next opportunity was an associate television producer for a show titled ‘A La Moda’, a Spanish language television show on fashion that aired on the channel Mira TV, a program of which I produced over 100 episodes. I have also consulted for different fashion brands, fashion television shows and produced a fashion show in New York City. I am currently initiating FE TV HUB in Nigeria with Brendance and Crusaders and will fly to China this year to produce a fashion series. I am in talks to activate FE TV HUB in Dubai, Brazil and India.

Why the preference for Nigeria?

I have been interested in Nigeria’s entertainment industry for a long time. I was first informed about Nigeria’s fashion industry in 2013 when my Nigerian advertising client for a pharmaceutical company told me that Nigeria has a huge fashion and film industry. Upon further research, I was highly intrigued. Then I met Brendan Nsikak through a mutual contact in 2018 and he ultimately persuaded me to come to his pageant Mr. And Miss Nigeria. As someone who has traveled to over 70 countries, I was inspired by Nigeria’s commitment to fashion, culture and creativity. It’s truly a one of a kind market that the world needs to discover. I believe that with my leadership, and the team at Brendance and Crusaders, we can transform Nigeria into a premium fashion content hub.

What motivated you to specialize in fashion-related television production?

I first wanted to become a major fashion editor at a magazine, but fate landed me an internship at CNN Latino television network for their morning fashion segments. At CNN Latino and later Mira TV, I honed my knowledge and skills in fashion-related television production.

Throughout my career, I have always been drawn to the intersection of creativity, entertainment, and storytelling. Televised fashion shows offer a unique platform where these elements converge in a dynamic and visually captivating way. I have been inspired by the power of television to not only showcase the latest trends and designs but also to tell compelling stories about the designers, models, and industry insiders who bring fashion to life.

The ability to reach a wide audience and capture their imagination through the medium of television is truly remarkable. I am fascinated by the idea of creating immersive experiences that transport viewers into the glamorous world of fashion, allowing them to see behind the scenes, witness the creative process, and feel the excitement of the runway from the comfort of their own homes.

Moreover, televised fashion shows have the potential to shape cultural conversations, challenge stereotypes, and redefine beauty standards. I am passionate about using this platform to celebrate diversity, promote inclusivity, and inspire audiences to embrace their own unique sense of style.

In essence, my inspiration to specialize in televised fashion shows stems from a desire to merge my love for fashion with my passion for storytelling and entertainment. I believe that television has the power to elevate fashion into an art form, and I am excited to be a part of that creative journey.

How do you stay up to date with trends and industry developments?

First and foremost, I regularly immerse myself in fashion publications, both online and podcasts, ranging from established magazines to digital platforms and credible authorities. These sources provide invaluable insights into current trends, emerging designers, and industry news.

Additionally, I actively engage with social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, following influential figures, fashion brands, and trendsetters. Social media offers a real-time glimpse into the ever-evolving landscape of fashion, allowing me to stay abreast of the latest developments and conversations within the industry.

Attending fashion events, such as runway shows, trade fairs, and industry conferences, is another essential aspect of my strategy. These events not only showcase the newest collections and innovations but also provide opportunities to network with industry insiders and gain firsthand knowledge of upcoming trends.

Lastly, I believe in the importance of continuous learning and self-improvement. I invest time in researching and exploring topics beyond my immediate area of expertise, whether it is attending workshops, enrolling in online courses, or reading books on fashion history, media theory, and cultural studies.

What is the process in conceptualizing and creating a fashion television series?

I come up with ideas that are completely original and never seen before; I also put fresh spins on old ideas. I came up with the idea “Fit for a King”, which is a fashion design competition focused exclusively on men’s fashion. There have been fashion design competitions in the past, like Project Runway in the United States, that feature mainly women’s fashion. Fit for a King is an original spin on that idea. I came up with the idea Fashion Hunters, which puts stylists to the test to style a fashion film, a never before seen concept. All fashion series I come up with have to be original.

What criteria do you consider when selecting designers and models to feature in your shows?

I consider branding and content compatibility. I try to find out if the talent has a good reputation, does the talent have a compelling story as originality is important for creating unique content. I also like to feature unknown, fresh talents, and be the first to cover them. Aligning my brand with reputable talent is essential.

These are some of the things I look for.

How do you ensure diversity and inclusivity in your fashion television series?

It is by being authentic. I genuinely admire talent and beauty from all walks of life and all areas of the world. I find all fashion, from street style in Japan, to be-spoke brands in Nigeria, to swimwear in Brazil, worthy of coverage. I genuinely find models of all backgrounds and sizes worthy of being on television. I naturally gravitate towards diversity so I just rely on my eye which leads to diversity.

What challenges do you face in filming fashion events and how do you overcome them?

Everything about fashion television and fashion events is challenging. So, many things could go wrong. Sponsors could back out, talent can back out, designers can back out. The way you can counter these potential setbacks is to plan ahead and be prepared for inevitable challenges. When challenges do come your way, you must use critical thinking to come up with a solution.

What are the key elements that make a fashion television series engaging?

Fashion television is appealing universally because fashion represents the world’s aspirations. Everyone, rich or poor, wants to live fashionably, to be wealthy, to have status and to be beautiful. Fashion is the North Star for many cultures around the world; people strive for economic wealth in order to afford fashion. Fashion intersects with culture, celebrity and community; it is a way of celebrating your culture.

Have you ever encountered any controversy in your career and how did you handle it?

Fortunately, none of my productions have ever garnered backlash or controversy because from day one, I have been committed to fair practice, diversity and inclusion.

How do fashion television series contribute to the broader understanding and appreciation of the fashion industry?

Fashion television series takes the fashion industry, a world that is illustrious, and unattainable for most people, and unravels it for the public to see. Viewers get to see the up close and personal lives of models, stylists, designers and producers; the glamorous side and the struggles they face. Viewers get a glitz but they also get to see the human side of those behind the scenes. Fashion is also visually appealing, which resonates with audiences.

Can you share any memorable experience on producing fashion television series?

There have been many instances when I have instilled the confidence in young designers and models to keep pursuing their careers in fashion. Looking back, I have seen people who I casted for their first televised appearance go on to become major stars.

How do you handle the pressure of meeting deadlines and delivering high-quality content?

I trained myself to take things one day at a time and finish one task at a time. If I think about all the things I have to do, it is overwhelming and debilitating. So, I have trained myself to live in the moment and that mindset helps me complete tasks amidst the pressure.

Can you provide some insights on the international fashion market and its impact on your television series?

Fashion is becoming increasingly global so designers and aesthetics are becoming increasingly inspired by emerging fashion industries. By emerging fashion industries, I mean markets outside of the traditional fashion capitals of New York, London, Paris and Milan. Industries like Lagos, Ghana and Kenya are inspiring designers and tastemakers in major fashion hubs; so it is becoming increasingly important to spotlight fashion in these areas.

What advice would you give to aspiring fashion television producers?

They need to stay consistent and trust the process. Every person in the entertainment industry needs to pay their dues; very few people have overnight success so expect to have a few years of struggle in the beginning. However, if you continue to refine your craft, you will reap rewards for your work. Also, you need to stay consistent about who you are. I first started out as an unpaid intern and low wage jobs, but more doors opened to me as I stayed consistent in the field. I also learned what my strengths were and I leaned on those strengths as my career grew.

How do you hope to become the world’s No. 1 producer of fashion content?

I have been in the industry now for 10 years. I have done work in New York and have been everywhere around the world. All these experiences have confirmed my innate talent for fashion content and I am confident I can be one of the world’s best.

What informed the choice to partner with Brendance and Crusader Ltd?

Brendance and Crusaders produces cutting edge, unique content. Brendan Nsikak, the CEO, is an esteemed international choreographer and pageant coach who has worked in South Africa, United States, France and Germany. He is a trusted manager and his brand has a great reputation. I have personally seen how Brendan has stayed committed to his craft in spite of insurmountable challenges. He doesn’t make excuses; he gives results no matter what. He is one of the best people to work with.

What is your opinion about Nollywood?

Nollywood is an incredibly vibrant and dynamic film industry that has made a significant impact not only in Nigeria but also on the global stage. As one of the largest film industries in the world, Nollywood has carved out a unique space for itself, producing a diverse range of films that reflect the rich cultural heritage, societal issues, and creative talent of Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

What I find most fascinating about Nollywood is its ability to tell compelling stories that resonate with audiences across diverse backgrounds and cultures. From gripping dramas and romantic comedies to thought-provoking social commentaries and historical epics, Nollywood films offer a window into the complexities and nuances of Nigerian life, while also addressing universal themes and emotions that resonate with viewers worldwide.

What is your opinion about the Nigerian music industry?

The Nigerian music industry is another aspect of Nigeria that is waiting to explode. Afro-beats and various genres in Nigeria are catchy, groovy and make you happy. I think it is one of the best music industries in the world and I think the next decade will see a rise in Nigerian recording artists.