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Art inspired shoes

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FUNKE OSAE-BROWN

The mid-day sun shines brightly on the black tar on the road at Buari Street, Ogudu, Lagos. This neighbourhood is far from being classified as middle-class, yet something interesting is happening there. Further down the busy street is situated Jangola, an upscale luxury shoe boutique. The boutique offers rare shoe designs and labels from the United Kingdom. Its latest pioneer stock is the Mojito shoes designed by British designer, Julian Hakes.

The Mojito is a tastefully sculptural curve mixed into a blend of simple creativity combining bright contrast leather lining that features a high-heel and peep-toe to make this a very comfortable and elegant shoe. The name Mojito is derived from a twist of lime peel.

“The Mojito is a unique shoe design,” says Patricia Femi-Dagunro, executive director, Jangola.com, “Nigerians generally are beautiful people and love good things. Most Nigerians, who go out of the country, see the good things. They want to be unique. They want people to see nice designs on them and like it.”

According to her, Julian Hakes has been a popular designer in the United Kingdom and most Nigerians do not have access to her exquisite designs. It is for this reason she has decided to bring it into the country.

“The Mojito shoes are for women who want to distinguish themselves,” she explains further. “It is for women who want to redefine their style; who want to be unique in the fashion and lifestyle industry.”

Femi-Dagunro says the retail price being offered in Nigeria by Jangola is the same being offered in the UK., saying that “we are giving our clients value for their money. The lifestyle industry has to be redefined with some luxury goods. If you see what is going on in the alcohol industry, you will see that a lot of all these brands are coming in but they are very reluctant.

“This is because most of the people going for luxury brands are very few. There is a niche market. About 2 to 5 percent of Nigerians out of millions are interested in luxury brands. You still have people who are interested in and willing to pick good things that are affordable to their own lifestyle.”

What most people may find interesting about The Mojito shoes is that it is a single-wrapped geometry which starts under the ball of the foot, sweeps over the bridge, then down below the heel before twisting back on itself to provide the support for the heel. It is what I call a spineless pair of shoes. Perhaps, this lack of spine is what makes the design stand out as a luxury brand.

“It is just the uniqueness,” adds Femi-Dagunro, “that makes it different. It is an everyday shoe but it is the uniqueness that makes the difference. There is no where you will take these shoes to that people will not ask you how you will wear the shoes. If you start with this portfolio, it gives you an edge over every other shoe. When people have seen it, tested it and known that it is unique, when you are bringing any other brand, they will go for it because you have started with a good and unique brand. We are the only distributor in the whole of Africa. We are the first people to bring it to Africa and the first point of call is Nigeria.”

So far, The Mojito shoes have been eliciting excitement from those who have seen it, says Femi-Dagunro. “When our clients saw the shoe they ask how it is worn,” and when they wear it, they are excited and it gives us pleasure. We have pleasant response from them. We do not have customers, we have friends. When you wear the shoes, you become our friends and we become your friends because you are wearing something unique. Anywhere you wear the shoes to, people will ask you what kind of shoe you are wearing and how much it costs. However, we don’t talk about prices, but good quality.”

In addition to the shoes, Femi-Dagunro says Jangola is considering stocking luxury leather bags, wristwatches, pens, among other luxury goods.

“When we looked at the fashion industry, we are considering stocking leather bags. We are coming up with men shoes also. We are taking stock forward in 2015. The male shoes we intend to stock will be of unique quality and I have never seen the brand in this country. I am not just brand conscious but quality conscious as well. I want people to wear quality shoes. If you are bringing in these shoes into the market and the men know they can wear these shoes for five years or 10 years, then they will buy it. It is just about quality. It is not luxury without quality.”

In addition, she says Jangola is a new company with a focus on brand, as “we believe it will attract those people that can afford it. We are happy that the online business is taking a rapid development in this country and we want a situation when if people think of luxury brands, they will think of jangola.com.

“We will not compromise on quality and standards. We are not in a hurry to bring in a lot of brands to the whole portfolio but we want to take it step by step, where it is a place where you can go and services will be friendly. We want to be good friends with our customers.”

The Mojito shoes are available online at www.jangola.com. Prices start from N47,997.