HOW I BROKE INTO FASHION: A CONVERSATION WITH PAPA OMISORE

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Papa Omisore is undoubtedly making a fast pace in the Nigerian Fashion Industry. He is one of the fastest unapologetic designers to watch out for at the moment.

He started his career with his PR agency P.rite agency and hasn’t slowed down since. Today, he is the creative Director of P.O.C Lagos.

His PR agency, P.Rite agency became famous after he teamed up with the Supreme Mavin Dynasty to find new talent when Don Jazzy decided to start his own record label, Mavin records and he found the likes of Reekado Banks.

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See below excerpts of the conversation with Papa.

  1. Tell us about yourself?

In a nutshell, I’m a creative young man trying to pave the way for menswear in Nigeria.

  1. Tell us about the brand P.O.C and what it stands for?

P.O.C Stands for People of Colour. Initially Papa Omisore Clothing, the brand was created because I could not find anything to wear/buy. There is a misconception that men don’t like to dress up or are just okay with throwing on a t-shirt and are good to go. I started out by just making things I would like to wear, and people seemed to love it. I’d like to believe I have a good eye; and that combined with the fact that I love to create, have made the brand what it is today.

  1. P.O.C quite a quirky name for a brand especially one in Fashion. How did you come about the name and what work has gone into rebranding?

P.O.C was initially called Papa Omisore Clothing. It was just a representation of me, but in cloth. As the brand expanded, I began to add colour – colours have personalities and tell stories. I also found that people love the use of colour, they found it “brave”. The brand is not just about me anymore. It’s about men who love fashion and are not afraid to be adventurous with colours and prints. Hence the new name.

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  1. Talk us through the development of your recent collection, your inspiration, and the kind of man you were designing for when you created it?

I started out creating just bespoke Kaftans. This year, I decided to go into ready to wear, and thought if I really want to make way for menswear in Nigeria, I should do more than just Kaftans. I broke the brand into three types of men I typically see, and took it from there. I’m designing for every man, really. Regardless of your personal style, there’ll always be something for you in P.O.C.

  1. What sparked your interest in Fashion?

I have always been interested in Fashion, this can be seen through my personal style over the years.

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  1. Are you self-taught or did you study Fashion design?

I am self-taught.

  1. How has your work evolved since you began your own label?

I started out with just kaftans, those are smart, easy looks to pull off. I diverted last year at Lagos Fashion and design week because I wanted more for the brand. Now, I’m making everything from Kaftans to shirts and pants.

  1. Have your pieces become more appealing to people as a result?

I found that people liked my pieces from the start because they were easy, stylish and practical.

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  1. Are there any type of clothing that you avoid wearing?

No, fashion is about execution. I think as long as you aren’t taking the piss, you can pull it off. It also has to be organic, people can see it if you’re not being yourself or if you’re trying too hard.

  1. Does your approach differ when designing menswear?

I’ve never designed for any other gender so I wouldn’t know. Lol

  1. How is your work received internationally?

I get a lot of international orders, so I’d say they love it. I was also invited for an international exhibition in London 2016.

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  1. What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?

Right now, I’m fascinated by fluidity in fashion. I love how pieces are not gender biased per se.

  1. What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt since you started your company?

It’s okay to be different. There are things that I design that people will like, and others won’t that’s just life really.

  1. What advice would you give to upcoming designers?

Find what makes you unique, and hold on to it.

  1. What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?

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I’d like to be the go-to menswear brand for fast fashion in Nigeria. That was my aim when I started the brand, and now that I’ve gone into ready to wear, I hope it actualizes.

  1. Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?

I’m not superstitious, and I don’t really live by any rule. I just believe in being myself, and do it unapologetically.

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  1. Your best Fashion advice for guys in Africa?

There’s space for everyone – support your fellow designers, you’re all going through the same things and facing similar struggles. It may be a race to the top, but there’s no point sabotaging others while getting there.

  1. What is your motto?

I don’t have one – I just take each day as it comes and pray to God for the best.

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  1. Lastly, what kind of development would you like to see happening with regards to menswear in Africa?

I would love for there to be more options. Menswear has been severely neglected or impractical in a way. I say this because there are more creative pieces than practical, and while the creative or fashion-forward pieces are there, we also need everyday options for men. Suits are also cool, but we need shorts, polos, shirts, things men can throw on casually without needing an occasion to do it.

 

Interview by Eromosele Patrick Eidusi

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