Onyinye FaFi Obi talks to Wana Sambo, an amazing designer who released a fabulous fashion collection called “Sidewalks are Runways”. She reveals more about herself, her eponymous brand and where she see it in a few years.
Oyinye FaFi Obi aka Fashion Phoenix (FP): TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF??
WANA SAMBO (WS): Hi, I am Wana Sambo, an interesting human who loves change, adventures and is always on the quest for greatness. I graduated Magma Cum Laude in 2008 from the Dept of Int’l Relations & Diplomacy from Nigeria’s premiere private university: Igbinedion University, Okada. I have worked in the corporate and entertainment sector – 2yrs at an Interior Design House as an assistant to the company’s CEO and as an assistant to the CEO of a record lablel.
FP: TELL US ABOUT THE BRAND,”WANA SAMBO”? WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO NAME IT AFTER YOURSELF?
WS: A brand is supposed to represent the designer and exude his/her qualities, so I named the brand according to that rule. I actually played with different names and all but I eventually chose my name to represent the brand because I know its a reflection of me and I know that no matter how old I am, I would never tire of or not be linked to my name. The Wana Sambo brand concentrates on the Wana Sambo woman. She is strong, eloquent, exotic, captivating and always the leader of the pack in whatever sphere she is in. She is usually the most feared yet lovable woman. I started in the summer of ’07 with no formal training in fashion but a quest to create amazing pieces and to make ankara a force to be reckoned with globally.
FP: WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WANTED TO BECOME A FASHION DESIGNER?
WS: Uhm, I never saw myself as a “fashion designer”. *laughs* I thought of myself as a garment constructor. I sought to create pieces that weren’t available to the market and I wanted more young people to wear ankara like they do foreign wears. The brand officially hit the market in Summer ’07, I guess the name stuck when the brand was nominated in the Dynamix awards in the category of “Best Fashion Designer”.
FP: WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?
WS: My inspiration is drawn from the most inexplicable sources. The other day, I was taking a walk around my house and I saw a pond lily, its whitish/pinkish colours inspired a collection which started with a dress. I also dream up designs in my sleep. Weird, but I’m thankful for such a gift.
FP: YOUR RECENT COLLECTION,”SIDEWALKS ARE RUNWAYS” COMPLETELY STOLE MY HEART…WHAT’S THE MAJOR INSPIRATION BEHIND THAT COLLECTION?
WS: Wow. Thank you. I’m honoured. The inspiration behind that collection was drawn straight from the Streets. . . On the sidewalks, you actually see every form of creativity, style and persona expressed through people’s dressing. Sometimes even the lack of style creates an impression. A man who cares less about his dress sense and blends the most ridiculous primary colour with a secondary colour sometimes births a trend.
FP: WHAT IS(ARE) YOUR FAVOURITE FABRIC(S) TO WORK WITH AND WHY?
WS: I mostly work with ankara because my mantra is “African inspired with an urban conspiracy” but it is the hardest fabric to work with because it doesn’t drape at all and sometimes makes a designers job tacky, but I love it. I’m currently fusing jersey, chiffon and all sorts into my new collection and clothes I make for my private clients. I always have a touch of ankara in everything I make. It could be a pocket, a button or an inner lining but eventually, I love ankara and most especially, I never want to lose my mantra.
FP: WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE NIGERIAN FASHION INDUSTRY??
WS: Thankfully, the Nigerian Fashion industry is growing and swinging in the right direction. We are now embracing the use of stylists, make-up artists and the likes. We have gone from zero to top notch in less than a year. We now have so many fashion weeks, fashion parties, fashion events etc. Nigerian Fashion industry is definitely brewing good.
Below are pictures from the Wana Sambo’s ‘Sidewalks are Runways’ Cruise Collection 2010/Sample Sale which took place last year at The Lifehouse(33 Sinari Daranijo, Off Younis Bashorun, VI).
FP: WHERE DO YOU SEE “WANA SAMBO” IN 5 YEARS??
WS: In 5yrs, by Gods grace, the Wana Sambo Clothing Company would have penetrated the international and local market and our target clientele will own and wear so many pieces off the Wana Sambo collections and fuse it into their daily dress sense and wardrobe.
FP: WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR UPCOMING DESIGNERS??
WS: I still see myself as an upcoming designer.*Laughs* But, I would implore those who still harbour dreams of designing to go for it because unless you put your work out there for people to criticize and appreciate, then you do not dare to call yourself a fashion designer. There is room for everyone. Eventually, we all create our own niche and service different clientele.
FP: WHERE CAN THE READERS BUY YOUR PIECES??
WS: They can call +23453131533 and shop at www.wanasambo.com. We are currently working on perfecting the website so they can only buy what they see on the Look Book and our delivery personnel can also show them other pieces that didn’t get into the Look Book.
Here are some images from the Sidewalks are Runways Cruise Collection 2010 Look Book.
The lady herself, Miss Wana Sambo.