Feature Sessions: WangerAyu

Friday, June 17, 2016
Hi everyone, Hope you're good.
It's been a while since we had our last Feature Sessions segment, well we're back. 

In this edition we had an opportunity to meet with the amazing Designer, Wanger of  WangerAyu

 Introduce yourself?
My name is wanger and I’m the creative director of WangerAyu. it’s an autonomous brand. The name is actually a mix of my first name and my surname; WangerAyu

What inspired you to start making clothes?
I always knew this was what I was going to do from a very early age. As little as 5, I was never happy with the clothes that came with my dolls so I would take those off and make new ones for them and I used to knit a lot too when I was younger. Even When I was a teenager, I went to a boarding school where they tried to encourage us to explore our creativity. Basically the school uniform was fixed but the house wear was not a fixed style, so you could make any style you want as long as it was made from the school fabric. I would sketch the design for mine and would make sketches for my friends too, I also tried to make deals for sketching house wear for girls in the school. I remember one of my friends from school who always talked about becoming a star in Nollywood, whenever she spoke of this, I would pitch in, saying I was going to design all her dresses. We were all excited about the idea. I'm really glad that I find the dream of making dresses for nollywood actresses being a reality.

How would you describe your style?
I think my style is eclectic in the sense that it is not fixed, I go with the feeling and with the mood so it’s just a bit of everything. I find out that as time goes on, peoples change even I have changed and the thing about change is you may not notice it immediately, but when you look back after a while, you would see the difference. For example I can remember when I started at the age of 19, I was a bit of cut and paste, patching here and there, then when I started properly when I was 23, my style became very glamorous, very dressy with expensive fabric and crystals. Those phases are essential for you to know who you are and I realized that as I got older I like the idea of transitional style. Things I can wear in the daytime and if I wanted to dress it up, I could just wear heels and accessories and it turns into something else. 

What inspires your designs?
For me, the best designs are born out of mistakes. For example one of my famous outfit (the picture below) was actually a mistake, I had sketched the design for the outfit but in the process of production my staff just happened to hold it up before he stitched it and I saw it flapping around and I told him to leave it like that way, that was how I want it. Most of the best designs are not strokes of genius but pure mistakes. I’m short sighted, I strain and sometimes I look at someone from afar and I think I have seen something until I come closer and get disappointed but in my head I’m like "That could actually work". I still do research and see what is trending, but for me, the best designs are those born out of mistakes


Major Challenges?
The cliché ones are dealing with skilled labour but those are not peculiar to me, they cut across  industries. Even if you know the "know how" sometimes you cannot keep up with the volume. There is the power issue which effectively doubles cost. There is funding which is critical because I'm into production and that is capital Intensive .

 Any future plans?
Of course! Expansion is a major concern right now, more retail outlets and stronger presence within the fashion industry
What motivates you to carry on?
Hunger! I was brought up to believe that just because your parents are well to do doesn’t mean you should relax. I went to a good school, was well taken care of but I wasn’t over pampered so that forced me to have a head on my shoulders. As you get older you start to have needs and wants that you cannot tell your parents and if you do they might not understand. For me it is like I know where I want to be and I am not there so every day I wake up to remind myself that. I am a lawyer by training but never practiced so all I have is my fashion so I push, drive and make sure everyday,I get closer to where I'm going.

Are your clothes affordable?
I try to be realistic about my prices, I try to compare to what is obtainable internationally in a store, though the temptation to say "I am a designer so you have to pay me a lot of money"comes, but honestly that is not what I want to offer. I am not after the one percent that can spend a million for an item, I am targeting the 75 percent that are willing to spend ten thousand on an item because for me it is about the turnover, and you have to balance the art and the business.

Who are the peoples you look up to?
There are peoples I call who inspire me like Mai Atafo and Zainab Ashadu. With Mai I seek counsel on the business aspect but with Zainab, It's more about the art. I am very introverted so it is hard to open up to people most times, but Zainab makes it easy, she listens and is always ready to help. In terms of principles it would be my parents, because a lot is to be said about how a person is brought up so they are very important to me.

What has been your greatest feat?
It’s funny because I learn more from my failures so to me there is nothing I have done that I would be like "Yes, I have arrived!. Every Single call I get or any single dress that is sold, these are all feats. For me every single thing is a triumph because it means that I am doing what I set out to do, it means that I am on the path that I want to be on, that I am progressing and those steps no matter how small, fall into a big picture.

Hope you enjoyed this session, to see more of her works you could follow her on Instagram @wangerayu , You would love it!

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