Behind every fashion show, there is always a team that makes the show a reality. Today I had the privilege of having an extensive discussion with Mr Sola Oyebade also known as Mr Mahogany. Mr Sola Oyebade is an international multi award-winning show producer, who has been in the light of fashion for over 40 years.
He established the Mahogany International Company in 1996 and since then Mahogany International has brought a different twist to the regular fashion shows in Africa, Nigeria and other part of the world. Mahogany International is an award winning event production company, this company offers its clients full event production services built from over 21 years of experience in event, project management and show production locally and internationally.
Mahogany International has been a part of various show production, the company has worked with and still works with the following; GTB fashion weekend, Terra culture, Chevron, Nigeria Student Design and fashion week, Genevive magazine, Africa Fashion Week London/ Nigeria, the list is endless.
Kindly give us a brief summary about yourself and tell us what your company is all about?
Mr Mahogany- I am Mr Sola Oyebade popularly known as Mr Mahogany, I am the CEO of Mahogany International. I am a show producer, this is referred as event management in Nigeria. My career in fashion took off over 40 years ago while I was in secondary school, then I used to produce shows and model, on the long run I also delved into the line of being a disc jockey. As at 1996 Mahogany international was established. Under the Mahogany International, we have the Mahogany modelling agency which is strictly for models of color, Mahogany brides, fashion finest uk which has been on for 11 years now and Fashion Finest Africa. We have been a part of the production of various fashion shows and events; fashion shows like the Africa Fashion Week London/Nigeria, GTB 5fashion weekend, Nigeria student Fashion and Design Week, Fashion Finest Africa/Uk and so on.
What inspired you to go into fashion show production?
Mr Mahogany- Although I don’t spend a lot of time shopping, I have always had a strong interest in fashion and I have created an identity over time . I had a strong desire to do things differently. In the 90’s when I was in the Uk, there was no black company which really catered for the African/Black fashion community, there was still a lot of racism and I had a strong believe that I had to make a contribution, thus Mahogany was created and as at the time the modelling agency was created, it was strictly for models of color, this has been a distinguishing factor for the agency and it is recognized worldwide on this basis.
Where do you see the African Fashion Industry in five years (particularly the Nigerian Fashion Industry)?
Mr Mahogany- The Africa Fashion Industry is still growing. The number of shows springing up, the quality of the shows, designers are getting global recognition. Five years, the Nigerian Fashion industry will be totally transformed. We are truly developing good fashion, LFDW deemed as a show competing with Mercedes Fashion Week. The GTB Fashion Weekend is recognized as the biggest fashion event in Africa. There is a great potential in the African Fashion industry, with designers selling just within Nigeria/AfrIca, designers would become multi-millionaires but there is a need for more work to be put in and there is a need for a better understanding of the business aspect.
What do you think we need to focus on to create a better fashion industry?
Mr Mahogany- We need infrastructures, production cost is really high so the lack of infrastructures makes production slow and equally costly. This also affects other industries and for us to move forward, there is a need for infrastructures. We need adequate schools for training and this needs to be taken seriously, the various aspect of fashion has to be taught in such schools, from the production to the business aspect of fashion. In other countries like the USA, France there are various schools were individuals are tutored.Fashion should be taken serious.
There is also the need for internships, the importance of internships cannot be over emphasized, any individual that has an interest in the industry whether in production, PR, Make up, modelling, designing, illustrating, INTERN! There is the primary need for more internship opportunities for upcoming individuals, those who have an interest in the fashion business.
What shows will Mahogany International be producing this year (2018) and what should the fashion audience be expecting?
Mr Mahogany- we would be having the Fashion Finest Africa which will be taking place from 25th- 27th May 2018. The show will be primarily for new and arising designers, at least 90% of the designers will be upcoming. There will be a conference on how Nigeria can influence the global textile industry, Between the 25th -27th May, the Fashion Finest Award will be taking place. This promises to be Golden Globe, Oscar kind of award event, this is strictly for the fashion industry.. There would also be the plus size fashion week,this would be the second season. Also the GTB Fashion Weekend, there will also be other fashion shows in between the main shows..
On a light note, what are your hobbies?
Mr Mahogany- I am an arsenal fan, back in the days anytime I am in the Uk and there is an arsenal fan, I most definitely will go to the stadium to watch the match. Also, I like watching Movies. In this present time, I try to rest when I have the time because I have a very busy schedule so rather than watching movies I make sure I rest.
How do you feel upcoming individuals interested in an aspect of fashion, can cater for the issue of capital?
Mr Mahogany- there definitely can be a problem in generating capital, money makes money, so an individual with a lot of money will have money to create his brand to a standard but an individual who doesn’t have a lot of money might not be able to build a brand to that same standard. So I advise that is best to start small, make use of technology, make use of social media and as long as you are good at the service you render, there will always be growth. It is also possible to collaborate with another person who buys into that dream. At this day and age capital should not be an excuse.
What is your take on the legal aspect in the African Fashion Industry?
Mr Mahogany- Legally, we do not have any laws. To enforce laws in Nigeria takes a LONG process. The court procedures can be so long, so it is usually discouraging.. But I advise people to make use of the legal system, there are loopholes but with time this will be developed. I have been very fortunate not to encounter any problem in Nigeria. In the Uk, I have taken people to court and people have taken me to court. On an occasion I can remember the judge stating ” on a normal circumstance you might have won this case..” ever since then my contract has been made to be pretty tight so before you think of breaching the contract. There most definitely will be a second thought.
What advise do you have for individuals that want to delve into the fashion industry?
Mr Mahogany- There is a need to know the key prerequisite of the industry. Use google, study, study, don’t be lazy. Go to the best and learn. Intern with the best not for a month but for at least six months,1 to 2years. Dedicate the time to learn, be humble and learn. There is a need to put in a lot of work. I did not become a show producer overnight it took years, I am intentional about the learning process. With all my experience, I still learn, I still go for shows primarily to learn, thing change for instance the average height for models was 5’7 and now it is 5’9.
Thank you sir for the opportunity! it has been a pleasure talking to you.