Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well- Vivienne Westwood.
The statement above can be related to Afrikananwachi Couture, one of Onitsha’s finest exports to the fashion industry, home and abroad. In this exclusive interview, InlandTown looks into the concept behind the brand and the brain behind this fast-rising iconic couture which is making waves in the United Kingdom and beyond.
The Afrikananwachi Couture, an online fashion brand was conceived in 2017 but officially began operations in 2018. It is the brain work of Ogbuevi Nwachinemelu Viktor Chu’emeka Nwokedi-Osili who hails from Ụmụ Iseli in Umudei Village, Onitsha North local government. Filled with the burning sensation to showcase the Onitsha cultural heritage through arts and Nature, Nwachi deemed it fit to achieve this through fashion. According to him, he was actually given the nudge by his family and friends to make the passion a reality despite him stalling for a very long time.
Afrikananwachi Couture basically seeks to create an exciting environment where people can see the hidden beauties of African heritage through the use of African prints. The designs itself are made in such a way that it strikes inspiration and educates many who are interested in learning more about Africa and its artistic nature.
Initially, the designs were streamlined to just African traditional wears. However, there has been a paradigm shift, in that, the designs are made in such a way that African materials are being used to make English wears… “we use Ankara prints, damask and other African materials to make well-tailored suits and gowns for men and women all over the world and we are everywhere now because it is an online marketing which goes global easily”. This exactly is what makes the Afrikananwachi Couture whose target audience is not just Africa, but the globe as a whole; unique in its own way. Afrikananwachi Couture is gradually penetrating into these countries and Nwachi himself is pleased with the progression so far.
The beauty of life is inherent in the fact that it is not a bed of roses, challenges and adversities are bound to spring up at different points in time. As Joshua J. Marine once pointed out, challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. We asked Nwachi some of the challenges he has had to face running the Afrikananwachi Couture and he had this to say: “The challenges we’ve had usually comes from sourcing the right materials for our clients, we buy materials from Turkey, UK, Nigeria and Ghana and sometimes we do make mistakes and we have to start all over again. We make it clear never to render a service to a client, our reviews are what we use to work and improve on ourselves so that matters a lot to us.
Another recent challenge we had was the Covid-19 period, people had no reason to order outfits because most people had no places to go to so we became slow but the good thing we did was not being idle all through the pandemic, first two weeks into the lockdown we woke up and continued showcasing our work all over social media to assure our numerous clients of our commitment to a brighter future. It gave them a great confidence seeing us busy against all odds so we were slow as a result of the lockdown but we were still busy and that has helped us all through”
Despite the challenges, the brand has been a point of call irrespective, as a result of its unique logo which attracts all races and tribes. The logo is so captivating so much that the moment you lay eyes on it, you get interested and start asking questions trying to understand the dream behind the formation of this fashion line.
In terms of his responsibilities as a business owner, Nwachi explained that his primary duty is to earn the customers’ trust and confidence. It is exactly for this reason he does not joke with reviews from clients. The mantra is; all clients must be duly satisfied and served by the couture. This is because; he believes that the business can only grow “if we begin to appreciate the fact our existence depends on our relationship with you. Without a well rooted clientele we won’t be out there making impact in the fashion industry so I tend to appreciate every client and take in every criticism because I know we would continue growing as the world keeps growing”.
Nwachi actually chose this line of business simply because he wanted to create a brand that would outlive him; such that it would always be associated to him even when he is long gone. More important is the fact that he derives joy from it and he is passionate about fashion. According to him, the term, fashion can never be eradicated in today’s world, in fact it is being recycled countless times thus, if one finds himself in this line of business you have to build it up with a strong belief it would stabilize and grow. Fashion to Nwachi is like a baby,hence the reason he keeps nurturing his brand.
Rounding up, we asked Nwachi if he had any word of advice to anyone just starting out and he had this to say: Well I don’t give advice much other than wear a cloth of patience and endurance. With consistency, patience, dream, focus and determination you would get there only if you are patient enough. The early stage of every business and Infact our existence is tough and tough so when you remember you were once a toddler and learnt how to stand and walk then you can also keep learning how to grow in your business, failure is never an option and no short cuts to the top.
- Aside from being fashion-inclined, Nwachi is also a lawyer. He obtained his first degree in law from the University of Nigeria and his LLM in commercial law from UK.
- He is presently a UK citizen based in London, England and works in London Borough of Camden as a Housing officer and Supporting communities’ officer.
- His late parents were late Hon Justice Kpajie Francis Omelonye Nwokedi whose father was Late Chief Edward Nwalusi Nwokedi (OBE) Ogene of Onicha.
- His mother was Late Mrs Dorothy Nkemdilim Nwokedi, Nee Ifeka of Ogboli Eke village, an educationist per- excellence.
- He was born in Iyi Enu Ogidi on 2nd July in the late 70’s.