FRANK OSODI is a foremost Nigerian designer whose House of Bunor label has traversed countries around the world. In this interview, he talks about his tailor-made pieces with FUNKE OSAE-BROWN.
His designs are as dramatic as they are edgy on the runway. His uniqueness and creativity shine through his pieces. Frank Osodi, creative director, House of Bunor has made bold statements with his Bunor Creazioni label. With his timeless pieces, Osodi, has clothed fashionable Nigerian women with taste for bespoke pieces.
Discerning women know that Osodi creates pieces that are timeless, that are never out of vogue. These are pieces owners can wear in another ten years.
“My customers tell me the same thing,” says Osodi. “I don’t go through magazines to create for my customers. I look at you and create something I think it’s you. So whenever you wear the outfit, you know it is uniquely for you. That’s what I think make my designs different from the others. I don’t do vogue. I do timeless.”
With a better understanding of his clientele, Osodi goes out of his way to source for unique fabrics to make his timeless pieces. He travels to source for fabrics from different parts of the world.
“It makes me travel a lot because there isn’t much you can bring in at a time. I pick a few sample pieces and those I can work with immediately. Once I start to run out of them, I travel immediately. We still have fabric coming in but they are not the kind of fabric that is for everybody.
“But for those who are into leisure and casual wears, yes they have the fabrics almost available but those who are particularly into premium pieces, you need travel because people pay exclusively for those kind of stuff. Their materials should not be just available people need to go out there and out in more effort to bring in your fabrics. You can’t make so much because of the dollar rate. Do we have clients who are ready to pay? Yes, we do have clients who are ready to pay. They just want you to give them what they can afford to buy like the premiere streets in New York or the UK.”
The muse visits Osodi on a daily basis as he tells him he creates every day. “I create every day. I don’t do off the rack. If for any customer that I have I don’t think I have get the same thing. I try not to repeat for clients. I look at you and put the event into perspective and create something specific for that event, the colour time and all the other things I need to talk about in respect to what you are ordering at that time. I create every day.”
Osodi understands the taste of his clients hence the pieces he showcases on the runway are entirely different from the ones he does for his clients. He is particular about making one 0ff pieces for his clients.
“I must tell you sincerely that some of the thing I do for shows are not what I do for my clients. What I do for shows, people tend to copy immediately and they mass [produce them. Some interpret them right some interpret them wrongly with wrong fabric. For those reasons, I don’t do what I do for my clients for shows.”
Osodi further says his label is known abroad but he doesn’t do mass production for the international market.
The Nigerian fashion industry comes with its own challenges yet designers like Osodi have been able to stay afloat and make a name in the industry. Osodi observes Nigeria is a country where you don’t get the opportunities you are given everywhere else in the world. “I will tell you we try very well by creating something out of nothing. In the sense that we are not allowed to really import fabrics and accessories yet we create. Even in Tejuosho market, you will see women there creating. Go to Iponri market, you will see women there working. Nigeria is great with fashion. Women in Nigeria cannot do without new clothes for owanbe parties on weekends. Aso ebi are rolling in and out. Nigeria is doing very well as far as fashion is concerned. All we need is just a shot into the international platform and showcase what we have. The government is yet to pay attention to the fashion industry. We hope they can do that. And the sooner they do that the better so that young designers will start to see their potentials come to fruition.”
Osodi says he loves to cloth women. There was a time he had a line for men which he had to stop because he does not find creating men clothing challenging.
“I used to do male outfits,” he says. “It does not require so much effort in terms of creativity. Men practically dress the same way. It’s just shirt and trouser and maybe a jacket. But with women’s clothing, there’s stoning and appliqué and even the stoning is in different ways. There are a variety of stones and appliqué and lots of things you can do on women’s clothing. You try another style each time. There are so many things to do as far as women’s clothing is concerned. Your creativity comes out best.”
Osodi does not find making men clothing interesting; I could not help but ask him how he will describe a stylish woman. Hear him:
“A stylish woman is someone who dresses to suit her physique. You need to know yourself and wear what suits your physique not because it’s in vogue or it’s trendy but because you should know what your body can pull, what your body should pull. That is what I call a stylish woman.”
For him, a dress is not about the quality or who wears it. The quality is the amount of work put into what someone is wearing. “For instance, this guy standing here is wearing a cotton shirt and a chinos trouser, how much is chinos, how much is cotton? But you can see that this guy is well dressed. You are wearing prints, how much are prints in the market? Is it well put together and does it sit well and is it well cut? It’s not how expensive it is but how it’s well put together. Does it sit well on you; does it suit your physique? Some people don’t look at themselves in the mirror and tell themselves the truth.
“Some women come to the office and say: “I want this style” and I tell them sorry madam, it won’t work on you and she says but I saw this person wear this style. The fact that the person wore it doesn’t mean it would suit you too. Look at your physique. Some women might not like to dress expensive when they go out but when you go to their homes you will be shocked how expensive their homes are. They have places where they want to spend money, this is their haven and there are people who spend all their money on shoes and bags. They can wear anything but for them, their shoes and bag must speak volumes. And sometimes if they don’t tell you how much it costs you might never know.”