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