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Fashion Focus: Taye Taylor – simplicity, garnished with effortless luxury and glamour!

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London-based Nigerian designer, Taiwo Okunuga rocked the runway of the Africa Fashion Week earlier this year with her TayeTaylor luxury retail clothing brand, which caters to the needs of individuals with love for the African culture in an Africa meets West definitive style. TayeTaylor’s beautifully hand crafted and machine embroidery on carefully selected fabrics offer an unparalleled combination of class and style underlined by simplicity and African glamour Taiwo studied pattern making and sewing from Fashion & Arts Academy, House of Henri and also attended a fashion design course at the University of Arts, London College of Fashion. She also holds a Masters degree in International Business and Entrepreneurship from Essex Business School. She was recently in Ghana for vacation and I caught up with her to find out why she gave up on the world of real estate for the world fashion and more. So how did your label come about? In my third year, I studied Estate Management in the University of Lagos for my undergraduate degree, and I realized that I wasn’t actually cut out for Estate Management. I had always had a fashion and creative side to me; I sketch a lot and I put pieces together. I was also modeling at the time and I decided to venture into fashion and see how it pans out.  I started my line in 2007 and left for my Masters two years ago.  I finished earlier this year, and in February I started my label, Taye Taylor and it’s been beautiful. I did the Africa Fashion Week in London and the crowd reaction was crazy. So won’t say it’s been a smooth ride; there’s been ups and down but it’s been awesome all the way. How would you describe your designs and style? My designs are afro-centric based designs; you’ve got to love the African culture to love my stuff. It involves a lot of embroidery works, both hand and machine made embroidery on different kinds of fabrics. I mainly use Italian linen. So its embroidery work on tunics, jackets etc. I started off with the tunic collection, that was my debut collection, and then I ventured into jackets and dresses. I use a lot of embellishments. It’s all about simplicity, garnished with effortless luxury and glamour. What has been the response so far? I started the tunic collection in late March and I was able to sell over 500 pieces without any formal form of marketing. That was when people started asking me to get on fashion shows etc. I have got a lot of offers.  I have got a lot of celebrities who want to wear the dresses, both local and international, so the response has been great. Do you have a shop now? Right now I sell online, www.tayetaylor.com . I also sell on facebook use twitter a lot. It is basically an online shop for now and I have a couple of stores requesting to stock my stuff. But I’m taking it one step at a time. Taye Taylor collection Taye Taylor collection Taye Taylor collection Taye Taylor collection What is your client base like? I have got a few foreign clients but it appeals more to Africans. A lot of Africans like it because it’s a blend between African and Western styles. It’s something you can wear to work in London.  It’s something you can wear to the beach or to chill out with your friends. It’s not something you just wear when you are home, you can wear it anywhere.  I think that’s what people love about my clothing. I heard that you incorporated some Ghanaian elements in your Africa Fashion Week collection Yes! It was the Olympic period and everyone was ecstatic about the games. So what I did was, I incorporated the Ghana colours on the tunics with the Ghana flag and the Olympic logo on it. That got the crowd going gaga so I guess they loved it. It was fresh and nobody else had anything as regards the Olympics on the runway. So would you say such platforms are good for African designers? Definitely! It was my first fashion show, my first runway and it was big. Africa Fashion Week London is one of the biggest platforms for any African designer in London.  Buyers were there, we had celebrities there, as well as people who want to stock your clothes. It was a massive platform for me and I think any African designer who wants to go international should showcase at the Africa Fashion Week in London. So what is next for Taye Taylor? I am working on a new collection. I’m going to showcase at the London Fashion Week next year so I am working towards that already. I am also working on the Africa Fashion Week in Los Angeles, which is in October. Taye Taylor collection Taye Taylor collection Taye Taylor collection Taye Taylor collection Taye Taylor collection Taye Taylor collection Taye Taylor collection Did you pick up any fashion ideas from your visit to Ghana? I love the Ghanaian culture; I got a lot of inspiration from the beachfront in Cape Coast and Labadi which I will incorporate in my collections. So you guys will have to wait and see. Should we expect you moving back home to Nigerian soon? Very soon, we conquer the international market first and then we come back home. I sell my stuff in Nigeria, and soon I will be selling in Ghana. I have people I Ghana who want to stock my stuff so very soon Taye Taylor will be available in Ghana. I am sure I will move back home but for now I am based in London.]]>

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