Saturday, February 17, 2018

Young Designer Edition: Chief by Ubong

1.What's your name and where are you from? 
I am Ubong Daniel. A Nigerian man from Akwa Ibom. Born in Livingstone New Jersey Raised in Dallas Texas.  

2.   What is the name of your Fashion Design and or Company? 
My Brand name is Chief by Ubong

3.   What type of fashion does your brand specialize in?
I am more focused on making street wear, but I make customized one of a kind garments such as ball gowns

4.   Did/do you study fashion? Or business?
I am currently a student at the University of North Texas studying Merchandising.

5.   How did your journey begin?
In 9th grade I made Pajama pants in my Theater class. Back then I was really big on being an Actor/ singer. My theater teacher told the class to be an actor it requires you to have many little skills and the skill she decided to teach us was how to sew. It was cool, but I never really thought much of it. Then in the 11th grade me and some friends made up a club called Urban Arts of the future. The club was meant to showcase different artistic talents such as dancing, singing, art, and fashion. We had a showcase. At this showcase there was a mini fashion show. I helped out by and stitching some Ankara fabric on t-shirts. The fashion show was fun and I got a lot of compliments from sewing simple pockets and sashes on shirts. After that I was like oh this is cool I can make myself some one of a kind shirts that no one has. This was a big deal for me at the time because this means I can make African clothes that
weren’t so traditional to African events. So, I kept doing patch work and made simple things like bowties and scarfs. Then I went to college and decided fashion was the way to go. But, as a Nigerian man majoring in fashion isn’t normal, or really accepted in the African community. So, I started off majoring in marketing. More acceptable than fashion, but marketing wasn’t cut out for me and I ended majoring in merchandising, the business side of fashion. During this switch is also when I was asked by The UNT’s African Student Organization to make their dance outfits. There were about thirty plus dance members and I am an amateur sewer that really only knows how to put patches on shirts. Although my sewing skills where limited I said yes - let me make all these outfits. I made all 30 something outfits for the dance team by trial and error. That’s when making clothes took off. People started asking me to make clothes for them and I did it. The weird thing is these people put their trust in me and I hardly ever trusted myself. but I can honestly say I’m glad that people started to put their faith in me.    

6.   What's the story behind your brand? 
My brand is honestly just a reflection of me. I was that kid that didn’t quite fit in to one box. I was told my name Ubong means Chief. So I named my brand after me and my culture. I will always remember my roots, but I’m not just some Nigerian man. Chief is a brand for people to accept themselves for who they are. They don’t try to change to fit the mold- they are living their best life in their own way.

7.   How long have you been designing? 
I have been professionally l designing for about 3 years.

8.   What inspires you?
My Nigerian culture is always an inspiration, but so are other cultures. I get intrigued by people’s ideas; how their culture and how their upbringing influenced their  mindset. So I do look at different cultures and history for inspiration. 

9.   Who are your fashion influences?
I honestly cannot pin point one person, but if I had to Rihanna. She is a style icon for a reason. She is unapologetic as to what she wears or does. She is so confident in everything and no one can tell her what she doing is wrong.  

10.  You are a young designer, so where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
In ten years I see myself as an established designer with a good following.

11.  Who and what motivates you? 
Honestly what keeps me going is not disappointing my parents. I have to be able to make them proud, and be able to silence all the people who speak ill about me to them.

12.  Do you listen to any particular music while working? 
Any particular music, no not really. I listen to Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean, Rihanna, and other alternative hip hop for the most part. But I also listen to anything that I’m feeling that day.

13.  How has being a Nigerian American influenced your art and design?
It has a very strong influence. At on point I was told oh so you are just an African designer. I am not just an African designer. I don’t like being called that, I love my Nigerian culture, but saying that is putting me in a box and I am claustrophobic. With that being said, I do use a lot of Nigerian patterns and fabrics in my designs though.   

14.  What's special or different about your designs?
I Feel like my designs are daring. They are clothes that people are scared to wear or excited to wear. Your regular African tailor might not even let you think of wearing something like that.

15.  Where can the public find your designs?
My website will be coming soon, but for right now it will have to be my social media. 

16.  Are you on social media?
Twitter: @chiefubong
Instagram: ChiefbyUbong

Monday, December 4, 2017

Shanghai Black Fashion Week Presents: Eggzekitive Rob Clothing

Our second Shanghai Black Fashion Week designers are Chishimba Carvelo Katong and Karen Shula of Eggzekitive Rob Clothing. 

1. What’s your name and where are you from?

Our names are  Chishimba Carvelo Katongo  & Karen Shula.  We  are from the rich continent of Africa in a country called Zambia.

2.What is the name of your Fashion Design and or Company?

Our brands called Eggzekitive Rob clothing

3. What type of fashion does your brand specialize in?

Our brand is a unisex Afrocentric brand that specializes in classic gentlemen’s casual and formal wear and elegant and funky feminine wear.

4. Did/do you study fashion? Or business?
None of us are studying fashion.  Carvelo is a third year civil engineering student. Karen is a third year international trade and economics student.

5. How did your journey begin?

Well the journey  begun in 2013 with me Carvelo. I had just completed my high school education  and I noticed,  all my life, whenever I had events, parties, weddings or even a mere Sunday church service, I always wanted to stand out from the crowd through my outfit. I strongly disliked common brands worn by my peers. When I had a piece of clothing I never wanted to find in with anyone else. 
That was the moment I realized the only way to achieve that is having my own brand. I always had a unique sense of style which people found a little crazy; but I wanted to influence them with my style; and owning my own brand would be the only way to attain this dream.

6. What’s the story behind your brand?

I had just come to China early 2015 to begin my studies  and I had been holding the dream within me for a while; until  I met a young lady by the name of Karen Shula who had come to China at the same time as  I did.
I got to know her and was emotionally attracted to her. We went on as friends and I later expressed my feelings. With luck on my side I was accepted. As the new  relationship unfolded I shared the dream with her. She loved the concept because she grew up knitting clothes for her dolls and also participated in a lot of d.i.y competitions in school and artistic fashion sketching.
The name Executive Rob spelled Eggzekitive Rob means a high class garment worn by high profile people. The word Rob is derived from a very important garment which symbolized royalty in the bible.

7. How long have you been doing business in China?
We have been doing business in China for almost 3 years now

8. Which Chinese city do you live in?

I live in Linan city, a small city about 40 minutes from Hangzhou.

9. How and why did you start in China?

I believe that everything that’s important should be written down or scribbled somewhere. We first made sure we had a proper plan. We made connections with affordable and high quality suppliers and manufactures to give us the materials we needed to equip ourselves. 
Why did we start the brand in China- there a lot of reasons as towhy; but one of the key most reasons is China is a really friendlyplace to start a business. Materials are readily available and allinfrastructures are in place in terms of internet connectivity, whichmakes advertising very easy. Also, there are secure modes of payments and very reliable courier services.

10.  What is it like doing business in China?

Doing business in China has been an interesting journey that has enabled us to travel the country and mingle with different kinds of people and cultures. Because of these factors we strive to make sure we produce a very satisfactory product that our clients can be happy with. We deal with people of different classes, connections, students, expatriates, business men and women.

11. Do you speak Chinese?
Yes I do speak Chinese, which is my strength, while my partner Karen reads and writes Chinese- her strength in the Chinese language.

12. How does speaking Chinese affect you doing business in China?

Being able to speak Chinese is very important as a business person in China. It has been of great help in terms of explaining what I really want from the suppliers, negotiating with suppliers, bargaining, and also dealing with courier companies when dispatching clients' orders. I would advise anyone looking at starting a business in china to make sure they polish the Chinese speaking skills.

13. How does being a foreigner affect you doing business in China?

Being a foreigner doing business in China really affects us in certain ways like limitation in participation at expos and trade shows  due to lack of interest in the goods that we produce. Secondly, using high marketing platforms like Taobao, J.D., and Tmall, you may not possess all the relevant documents that Chinese nationals have, but nonetheless, things are beginning to open up. 
Another disadvantage is, as Africans, we are seen to be from one country and not separate countries; and a bad experience of one Chinese national with an African lets them carry the stereotype that all Africans are bad.

14. How was your experience showcasing at Shanghai Black Fashion Week?

Showcasing at the Shanghai Black Fashion Week is a great experience for us. We really learned a lot from the the event- connected with different people, shared ideas with other designers,  and also interacted with customers. 
We would like to thank the organizers Benjamin, TaVanni, Hu John, and everybody who worked hard to make the event a success. We are already preparing for SBFW 18 and wish the event can grow and expand to be bigger and better every year.

15. Are you afraid that your products and or designs may be counterfeited and or knocked-off in China?

We are certainly not afraid of any one duplicating our work because we take that as a compliment of our work. Early this year a customer from Zambia duplicated our male kaftan for his wedding. He contacted us about 3 to 4 months prior to his wedding requesting we make him a kaftan. 
We sent available designs and he stole the designs and submitted them to a tailor who tried to make the same garment but failed to produce it as it should have been. We weren’t hurt- we were motivated. People will only duplicate it if it's good and attractive. 

16. How do you control and maintain the quality of your products
during the manufacturing process?

At Eggzekitive Rob clothing, we always strive to give customers value for their money and total satisfaction. We closely assess our fabric choices for every design. We also pay precise attention to our design choices. Some designs make look fancy when illustrated on paper but would not fit perfectly into a person’s daily life. Our third quality control measure is to make sure we test every new design by having our own personal outfits first before we can roll them out on the market.

17. What's special or different about your designs?

Wow awesome question. It kind of reminds me of one of the reasons I ventured into fashion- to enable my mind to think beyond its perimeters. I love challenges and fashion tosses new challenges my way everyday because it evolves with time.
Our designs are creative because we want our customers to look unique whenever they wear Eggzekitive Rob clothing. All of our designs are custom made and we avoid repeating what we have done before.

19. Where can the public find your designs?

We advertise widely on a lot of convenient platforms because we are in China. Wechat is the most used platform so we are trading on a Wechat integrated online shop called Weidian in Chinese.
We mostly update our collection on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Our website is still under construction and we shall notify the public once it's up and running. We can also confirm to have our clothes featured in a Botswana online store called Quasars early 2018

20. Are you on social media?
Wechat at ch62142 
Instagram:Eggzekitive Rob Clothing  
Facebook: Eggekitive Rob

21. Any other comments?

We  appreciate everyone that has supported us from the the inception of the brand and others that tagged along. We wish we could individually name them but the list is endless. We are always working hard because of their unconditional support. 
Lastly, we would like to encourage everyone that has a dream or passion to never to sit back and wait for a miracle to bring it to life. Go out there, get out of your comfort zone, and invest every little time or coin required to achieve it. The start will never be easy but one day you will look back and appreciate that fact that you started.

A big Thank you to you Fashion Legallaire Blog for featuring our story in your. We are  thankful.

SBFW showcases diverse and local underground talent throughout China in Shanghai. SBFW S/S 2018 is tba but stay connected with us for exclusive information. Stay tuned for our next SBFW designer interview.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Shanghai Black Fashion Week Presents Naya Fashion

Our first Shanghai Black Fashion Week designer is Sheila Boaduwaa Yeboah of  Naya Fashion, a colorful line that showcases african print in all of its pieces. 

1.What's your name and where are you from?

I am Sheila Boaduwaa Yeboah from Ghana, and I'm a medical student at Hebei North University China. 

2. What is the name of your Fashion Design and or Company? 

Naya Fashion is the name of my fashion house. Naya was adopted  from  my local  name "Nana Yaa". 

3. What type of fashion does your brand specialize in?

We specialize in clothes, slippers, and african printed accessories. We mostly base our designs on africanism while incorporating a little bit of Asian and western influence.
4. Did or do you study fashion or business? 

I have never been to any fashion or business  schools.

5. How did your journey begin? 

I began at the age of 15. I ordered a dress and I didn't  like  the outcome  so I tried to redo it and made it; I call it talent because nobody taught me how to sew.

7. How long have you been doing business in China? 

 2 years now

8. Which Chinese city do you live in? 

 Zhangjiakuo city, hebei province 

9.How and why did you start it in China? 

I made  fashion designs apart of me in china because  I love  to sew and now my fashion  designs are a hobby  turned profession. In my spare  time  I do a lot  with  my magical  hands; I make  anything  fashionable  including  hair.

10. What is it like doing business in China? 

It not easy but yet still reliable

11. Do you speak Chinese?

A little. 

12. How does speaking Chinese affect you doing business in China? 

It does  not  affect me

13. How does being a foreigner affect you doing business in China? 

 Almost all of the Chinese people do not purchase my products; they prefer their own home made stuffs.

14. How was your experience showcasing at SBFW? 

 It was my best experience. Almost everyone at the show that day  loved my designs; especially the models. 

15. Are you afraid that your products and or designs may be counterfeited and or knocked-off in China?  

Not at all because  my designs  are unique. 

16. How do you control and maintain the quality of your products during the manufacturing process?  

When ever  making a new design or product I try it on myself  first for some months and also  make  sure  I go in for the best raw materials 

17. What's special or different about your designs? 

 I base my designs  on africanism +Asian +Western [influence] which  makes  it  uncommon. 

18. Where can the public find your designs? 
On Facebook as Naya Fashion, Instagram as Nayafashion1, and Wechat as Nayasby.

21 Any other comments? 

Naya fashion wear your imagination 

SBFW showcases diverse and local underground talent throughout China in Shanghai. SBFW S/S 2018 is tba but stay connected with us for exclusive information. Stay tuned for our next SBFW designer interview.

Shanghai Black Fashion Week 2017

Here in China, we are still have all the feels of fashion week, from Shanghai all the way to Guangzhou. Most of 2017's designers were Chinese, French, Russian, and American. Lucky for them their designs had the opportunity to grace the stage; however, showcasing at a fashion week is a lofty dream for many designers because it  almost solidifies that he or she has "made it" in the fashion world.  Moreover, the fashion industry is the same globally- highly political; which could mean a considerable amount of money, connections, and time to get featured at a major fashion week showcase.

But a group of creative collectives- directors, producers, and stylists- decided to combat this issue by creating Shanghai Black Fashion Week (SBFW).

Radii China

"SBFW is a time to celebrate diversity, support local talents and bring light the hidden creativity flourishing in China's underground fashion World," says TaVanni Singleton, the communications director of SBFW.

Following this celebration of diversity within the fashion industry, WHICH WE LOVE, we spoke to some of the designers to find out more about them and their designs.

Benjamin Kotoh of Bespoke's Brush&Saccy
Naya Fashion
Humble Kloud
Eggzkitive Robs
Patches by Amy

Radii China

Radii China

Radii China

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Doing Business in China Presents: Tofanyi Coco Scrub, a Vegan Beauty Brand

Tofanyi Coco Scrub

What's your name and where are you from? My name is Abdourahamane ly, I’m from Guinea (West Africa).

What is the name of your Company? My brand name is Tofanyi - which translates as "natural beauty” in Susu language {of Guinea or Sierre Leone , West Africa}.

What type of product or service does your company provide? Tofanyi is a vegan skincare brand that creates scrubs using natural oils and more.

Did/do you study fashion or business? I graduated in Shanghai with an economics degree.

How did your journey begin? I became interested in the skincare industry after becoming vegan and finding out that it is extremely difficult to find vegan, cruelty free, and healthy products in China.  I purchased oils from west Africa in order to experiment, and once I formulated my products I started selling them at the markets.

What is the story behind your brand? Tofanyi is a natural brand that fights against animal testing and the use of any animal derivatives in cosmetic ingredients. We are looking to spread the cruelty free message across China while providing top quality skincare. 

How long have you been doing business in China? My company was registered in 2015. 
  What city do you live in? Shanghai.

How and Why did you start it in China? I came to China to study in 2008. After graduation I felt it was a great place to pursue business. 

What is it like doing business in China? Doing business in China is very challenging but with extremely good communication and connections anything is possible. 

Do you speak Chinese? Yes, I speak Mandarin. 

How does speaking Chinese affect you doing business in China?  It facilitates communication and without Chinese it would be extremely difficult for me to set up and operate a business here. 

How does being a foreigner affect you doing business in China? I think it has both positive and negative aspects. I think being a foreigner selling skincare can give you an edge, as many local [Chinese] brands are not likely trusted. However Business is heavily based on connections so you really have to put yourself out there in order to succeed and be accepted. The system can be hard to navigate as a foreigner, so it is definitely more challenging than running a business in your own country. 

Are you afraid that your products and or designs may be counterfeited and or knocked-off in China? Copyright theft is definitely a big risk in China, however the country is improving in tackling this issue. The only solution is to move forward and be ready to deal with any potential theft as it comes. 

How do you control and maintain the quality of your products during the manufacturing process?  I import argan oil directly from an organic farm in Morocco that I have personally visited. I work closely with the factory in China in order to ensure the ingredients sources are of highly quality . 

What's special or different about your product? our products are 100% vegan and cruelty free (rare in China).

How does your company/product impact the environment? In what ways?    We are a vegan brand that fights against animal exploitation and consumption which is directly affecting our environment. It’s believed that over 300,000 animals are used each year in China for the testing of beauty products. Even major imported foreign brands such as L’Oreal and Estee Lauder are required to be re-tested before being sold in China. We look for sustainable ingredients and try to make our packaging as eco- friendly as possible. We are hoping to reduce any unnecessary packaging in order to prevent waste. 

Where can the public find your products? They are available on Taobao and Weidian

Are you on social media? you can find Tofanyi on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Abdourahamane ly
Founder of Tofanyi
Any other comments? I hope more people will open their eyes to the atrocities that are committed against animals in order to help end cruelty. By choosing cruelty free cosmetics you are voting against the torture of animals. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

You Saw It Here First! China Made and Trending- Fluff and Tassels

You saw it here first:

Straight from the Chinese factories and right to your favorite store or boutique, here are some of the latest trends being produced as we speak. As fast fashion and trends work, items are mass produced and people come to China to private label and or tweak these items' styles as their own, so it can be very challenging to lay original claim to some of these trends. Read more about Which Came First: the Designer or the Design?  here.

It's fluff and tassel season right? shoes, bags, accessories: Check out these keychains and compact mirrors.

Like what you see and want more information on where to get it? Drop us a message because we source too. 

Stay tuned for more of You Saw It Here First! China Made and Trending. 

Doing Business in China Part 2: Hair By Akoni

 When it comes to merging fashion, law, and the business of fashion, I thought there was no better way than to jump right in to the industry than to come to China, where I have been doing just that for the past 3 years.

I am first generation Nigerian American (Akwa Ibom State), grew up in the American South (Louisiana, Texas, Florida), studied/lived in France, and now China- and that's just about as diverse as my sense of style is, which changes just like my hair. Since I have lived in China, I started Hair By Akoni, a hair distribution company, as well as a sourcing company.

Living and doing business in China has opened my eyes to the intricate details that artists and designers go through when it comes to the inception of an idea, the production and manufacturing of that idea, the protections of said idea, and the global dissemination of the idea turned product. Read more about my journey at  Liberate Magazine.

YES FASHON LAW INVOLVES MORE THAN SUING OVER STOLEN DESIGNS. In fact, the legal issues concerning the business of fashion are similar to other industries- just insert fashion here. Contracts need to be drafted, intellectual properties registered, and these may have to be defended around the world. Further, since the boom e-commerce, paypal accounts and websites do get shut down too as assets are frozen in pending litigation.

All the while we hope that morally, business cares enough about the environment to abide by global emissions codes, use recyclable products, and sustainable energy. In fact, Fashion Legallaire has spotlighted the environmental issues surrounding the fashion industry before- read about it here and here- and will revisit this topic again very soon. In fact, a lot of pollutant factories in China make the fashion world go round but we all play a huge role in today's world

As always you can find me right here at the Fashion Legallaire blog and on Twitter. To learn more about my hair company, visit Hair by Akoni on Facebook and Instagram.

Stay tuned...