I get inspired watching Telemundos- Top designer, Taiwo Ogunbiyi Olusolagbemi
He is doing just fine, great and as good as any topnotch designer, with designs noted for originality. His brands, Prolific Couture and Tai Prolific, have been on the upswing.
Olasolagbemi launched his Tee shirt brand recently and Goldenpearmedia had an interesting interaction with him.
How long have you been doing this?
Since 2012, but I have been designing all my life. I have been a fashion designer ever since I was born. All through my elementary classes, I remember how creative I was in fine arts and other thins. When I was in secondary school, I made some money to survive through fashion. I remember most of the shoes I wore I made then. I did some beads too which I sold to some elderly people that were in my class and they gave me some tips in return. My aunt owned a jewelry store where I assisted here. It was there I learnt to make beads.
It was really your aunt who inspired you then?
I would say she inspired me, but I learnt to do the beads just by observation and experimentation. I saw the hook, I saw the beads and line and say okay, why not do it this way? Whatever we make, we would display and by the time she comes, (after saying oh how lovely) she would put a huge price on it and that brings in money.
In that sense your initial creative effort was for survival?
Yes, for survival. Growing up was so tough we had to do something to support our mum. I am from a polygamous family, where you have hyper competitiveness, and your survival depends to a large extent on your resourcefulness.
What were your visions at the beginning?
I never knew I would be a fashion designer. I studied psychology in University of Ibadan, and I have always wanted to be a police officer or at least work in the security service.
What did you like about the force?
My dad is a retired military man and in my family we have a few who work in law enforcement. I love the force. I still have a liking for it. I am still hopeful to find my way there, and I will take up the opportunity if it comes my way and I am sure it will not affect my fashion work.
What should people expect from your brands?
I have two brands: Prolific Couture and Tai Prolific. Prolific Couture, which has been in existence before Tai Prolific, is the couture aspect, while Tai Prolific is ready-to-wear. Prolific Couture is devoted to making special orders, custom made. Tai Prolific is not, it is strictly ready-to-wear, if it is not your size you drop it, we don't alter the design.
We run the two brands from the same place.
Beside your passion, what training have you been through?
When I started fashion business in 2012 in Ibadan, I was a mediocre, without formal education in it. I was able to design. I sketched then, but I didn't know that my sketches were horrible until I met a lady on Instagram. She used to like my pictures. Then one day she sent me a personal message: which fashion school did you attend?
I had always wanted to go to a fashion school but there was no time for me. I told her I have never been to a fashion school. She encouraged me and introduced me to Zaris Fashion and Style Academy to me. Try it and see, she said. So I came down to Lagos in 2014, for the training. At Zaris, it was like you going back to secondary school. It wasn't everybody that started that finished the training. It was just tough, more so for me because I was sponsoring myself, and therefore I had to keep fighting to the end. I finished from Zaris, one of the best in my set, winning an award for the most promising student.
What made you stand above your peers?
My kind of fashion is different from others. I do not use magazines. I don't copy styles. I create my own designs. Those that work with me know that. Some people make a big deal out of one person copying a particular designer say, let anybody copy whoever they want to copy; if you cant copy the design that means the design is not nice. My designs are purely urban. I am an urban designer. But I also pay homage to some olden days fashion.
I am proud of my designs. They are mine. I can say this anywhere: any design you see in my outlets is mine. I might be inspired by something or from somewhere, but still, you will see the originality in my design.
What did you do with your psychology degree?
I had wanted to work with the forces, and also do my masters in criminology (which I don't know if I would have the time for now). I have never worked with my certificate. I started the fashion business right after I finished from the university in 2012.
What do you mean by urban fashion?
Urban mean street. Urban is what you see, the nowadays things, city, modern, contemporary.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced?
I could remember in 2012 the time I made a cloth for a woman and she spat at me. She was really angry at the outcome. She didnít like the outcome. At the end of the day however, she brought me other clients. It is not easy for to design and expect the owner to like it. You do not have access to the person's mind. So creating a particular design for a particular person is the most challenging part for me. Understanding the person makes it easier for me.
What should people expect from Prolific Couture?
I run an African boutique, where you get English outfit, casual and traditional. I am launching my tee shirt brands today, which come with good designs and spectacular prints on them.
My boutique is a place you can walk in and buy whatever you want, whether you are going for a function or a video shoot, or any other outing, you will find what suits you.
What inspires your design?
I am a telemundo fan; I get many inspirations from telemundo. People think telemundo is meant for female audience, which is not true. I get inspired there a lot by some designs I see, the interiors, the furniture, everything.
You do more of male stuffs but a few women's stuff, why?
I started with both male and female, but the challenges were becoming so tough that I had to drop women's wear. They don't appreciate when it comes to the monetary aspect, they don't pay well. But running an African boutique I want to design for both male and female. My outlet is located in a place where women patronize a lot, and when they come here and see something that attracts them, they will surely bring their husbands around.
What about children wears?
We don't do that for now.
Where do you hope to see your brand in the next five to ten years?
I want to be one of the top designers in Nigeria. I want my design to be known all over the world. With my ready-to-wear brand, Tai Prolific, I am clothing the whole world. In the next 10 years I want to be the designer people are talking about. It's a long race, but I will be there by God's grace.
Which of Nigerian designers do you admire most?
I am an urban designer so Kola Cardoso is one of my role model. He inspires me a lot. I like his designs.
Who would you want to clothe?
The whole world. Everybody that is fashionable.
What is your typical day?
After spending the whole day at work, I have a lot of catching up to do. I don't sleep early. I will be up at night watching telemundo, and as I am watching, I have my drawing book with me.