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Looking The Business

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Looking The Business

unnamed2Changing the content of wardrobe may not be regular practice for some people. However, some blue chip executives do not just stock their wardrobes but they understand the importance of collecting closets as antiques and looking good write FUNKE OSAE-BROWN.
Bode Kamson paces from one end of his room to another on a cool Friday evening. He takes a few step towards his expansive wardrobe, looks through hurriedly before he returns to a pile of clothes lying on his bed. It’s just one out of the many Friday evenings that Kamson has to make a choice on what to wear to a business function. He stocks all kinds of cloth in his wardrobe because of what he calls “scarcity of what to wear.” Kamson’s wardrobe is an ancient expansive one which has different compartments and one wonders why this kind of closet is not obsolete in this modern times. Kamson had lived in Paris for 30 years before he relocated to Nigeria with his wardrobe in tow.
“What we now call a wardrobe closet has an interesting history,” he says with a smile. “Originally known as an armoire, a French term that is broadly applied to any stand alone, wooden covered shelves or cupboards, modern day wardrobe closets have become common items in many people’s homes. I primarily use them today to store clothes, hence the wardrobe term, yet in the past they were made for storing weapons and armour.  Along with armour and weapon storage, people also used them for food, miscellaneous items.”
Historically, these items were all hand crafted with much care and attention given to making a pleasant, intriguing design, yet also providing functional storage in a stand-alone closet. Now, hundreds of years later, people collect these items as precious antiques. Blue chip executives like Kamson do not just stock their wardrobes but they understand the importance of collecting closets as antiques. Therefore, the closet and its content are one of a kind.
“I change my wardrobe monthly. I love to look good. I used to do that myself until I found an image management company that offers concierge services. They stock my wardrobe for me. They know what suits me and don’t have to worry whenever I travel abroad about what to buy and where to shop,” says Kamson.  
Sola Bankole belongs to a much younger generation than Kamson, one that is more fashion conscious. She says experience has taught her that building a highly personal, practical and wearable wardrobe doesn’t happen overnight. “I started to pay more attention to the content of my wardrobe last year when I realised most of my clothes weren’t, so to speak, ‘me’”, she says. For me putting more thought into my appearance required a lot of soul-searching, some inevitable misses and moments of excitement and joy. Yes, my wardrobe inventory is still unfinished but I guess I’m already on the right track. I have followed three hands-on guidelines when trying to gain control over my closets: acquiring the classics, mixing it up and highlighting my interests with accessories.”
This sad experience of the young lady raises question of how appropriately and often do people change their wardrobes? You really cannot do without a good wardrobe because you appearance tells more of you than your words.
It is obvious that people in developed countries are more fashion conscious and keen at changing their wardrobe at short intervals. But same cannot be said of people in developing countries like Nigeria where trendy looking is just evolving and some people are trying to catch up with it.
However, it takes an organised person to maintain neat and smart look of his or her clothing and accessories in a wardrobe, but takes a fashion conscious person to change the wardrobe within short intervals.      
In a recent survey of the wardrobe culture in Nigeria, many people think of their wardrobes only during special occasions such as Christmas, a lot more under the pretence or reality of the economic hardship don’t change at all, while a few actually see reason to change but not at an interval that will make them fashion conscious than others.
While women fit more into the last group, men parade more in the two groups that leave little or nothing to desire of.  Ajike Bada, a fashion designer, observes that they are making a brisk business form clients who do not like to use a fashion accessory twice. Hence he attributes one of the reasons to the popular believe in the functionality than status sense of clothing. For him, people still see clothing in its primary sense of covering nakedness. While the reason for this primitive ideology may be due to lack of the wherewithal to acquire as much clothing as one wants, it is unfortunate that even those who have the means still don’t change their wardrobe as often as they should.
Poor fashion sense or rather lack of wardrobe culture is the only reason a modern person  who has the means, according to Bukola Adum, MD, Complete Wears & Fashion Accessories, will not change the wardrobe at will. “If you have the wherewithal nothing stops you from changing your wardrobe every three months or at worst every six months. But if I advice customers on this, they think I just want to increase my sales at their expense.” She notes sadly.    
For her, the saying that if you want to hide something from a Nigerian, you put it in writing/books also applies to fashion because of people’s poor attitude to both reading and effective shopping for wardrobe. “Nigerians don’t have a bit of wardrobe culture. The so-called big people only shop for a few personal effects when they travel. And the only wardrobe change for some people is the Aso- ebi ,” she says.
However, the idea of changing wardrobe content has opened business opportunities for people. For instance, executives now employ the services of image consultants and concierge to stock their wardrobes while some others deal directly with local fashion designers who make rare customised pieces. “One has to look for every available opportunity to make legitimate money,” says Bola Are, a concierge. “Some people don’t know where they can get some clothing item even though they have the money while some others do not know what suits them. Hence they need our services. It’s quite lucrative but you don’t get business all the time.”

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