Japanese-French fashion designer Kenzō Takada once opined; “Fashion is like eating, you shouldn’t stick to the same menu”.
We can all agree, the fashion industry celebrates enthusiasts who ignore the menu and create their own.
In South-East Nigeria, there are three distinguished fashion influencers who are disrupting norms with their style; Valentine, Tony and Kingsley.
These three influencers stand out for their uniqueness in being fashionable in an environment where most people don’t appreciate “overboard” fashion, not only this but the bold dive into turning their passion into profit.
Valentine Uchenna Omeje a native of Enugu State started modelling in 2016. Since then he has walked on runways like The Wedding Showcase, Coal City Fashion and Design Week and Nigerian Models Fashion Week.
His sense of style inspired by the people around him, he believes his style has conferred on him uniqueness and also an avenue to create a path for the fashion industry to grow in South East Nigeria. Valentine is on an ambitious mission to disrupt the bias that models and fashion influencers’ in the South East are not up to the standard of models in other major cities such as Lagos.
For Tony Nwose, his fashion journey started when he was encouraged by a classmate to contest for Mr. Banking and Finance at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (“ESUT”). Winning that first competition was a door opener. He was thereafter selected to compete for Mr ESUT which he also won. He has walked on runways like ESUT Fashion Week, Coal City Fashion Week, The Wedding Showcase, Men’s Fashion Week, and Lagos Fashion Week.
“The fact that I can do something to inspire people by creating art and expressing myself is my biggest motivation”.
The Nigerian King INTL 2018
Mr ESUT 2017
Most Handsome Guy in Campus Africa 2016
Mr Banking and Finance ESUT 2015
Nigeria Achievers’ Award model of the year 2018
ENUGU Icon Award Pageant King of the Year 2019
Nigeria Entertainment Board Award Mr. Model Nigeria 2018
Fondly called “illie” Kingsley Nduka is a model, designer, photographer and event planner. According to him; ‘I have always loved looking good. I remember growing up; I’d play dress up with my siblings. Sometimes we just wear outing-clothes at home without going anywhere. I guess all those little things played a huge role. I even remember going to visit friends and the first question they ask is “What’s the occasion?”
On being a pioneer in the South East fashion industry; here’s what he had to say; “It’s hard because the region is still evolving and learning to appreciate the fashion industry, joined with the fact that they are little or no investors who really care about moving the fashion industry here forward”
Tony, Kingsley and Valentine are passionate about ending the stigma that models or influencers from the east cannot be seen as equal to their contemporaries in major cities in Nigeria like Lagos.
There’s a vast potential market for the fashion industry and creative industry of Nigeria in the South East, good enough to generate revenue for the region and individuals/investors. We want to be put on the map and not omitted and stereotyped as usual because that’s how it’s been a long time. The fact that something has been happening for a long time, doesn’t mean its right.