A quick research on the true definition of fashion indicates that there is no one perfect description for it because fashion is quite relative; to some persons fashion is style, while to others fashion is trend. For Lara Cole the CEO of Elan Red, fashion is life which spurred her to organize a unique fashion show tagged ‘Fashion Is Life’ here in Lagos to showcase the many diversities of fashion by different designers.
In this interview, she talked about the idea and how she intend pushing the boundaries of fashion within her capability.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Omolara Cole and I am the CEO of Elan Red Store. Elan Red Store is unisex store, we sell both local and international brands. I am also the creative director behind Amarelis; Amarelis is a female wear brand and we do ready to made outfits.
Do you make outfits yourself?
Not really, basically I design outfits and sketch. Amarelis manufactures locally which we sell at Elan Red Store as well.
Which of the two did you first launch?
I started with Amarelis in 2012, I was producing abroad and selling here in Nigeria which I did for two years; then some of the distribution channels shutdown coupled with strong economy policies, I stopped producing abroad and opened Elan Red Store in 2015 out of the need to service Amarelis and other local brands that require a channel to sell their outfits.
What is the difference between a fashion stylist, a fashion designer and a tailor?
A fashion stylist is someone who styles people for a living, mostly celebrities for magazine covers, musical or movie shoots; they mainly put together appropriate outfits for you depending on the event and also advise fashion designers on trends and style in vogue. A tailor is the local outfit maker who actually sews outfits according to one’s direction or choice while a fashion designer is the high end version of a tailor.
For these three categories of persons, is it necessary for each to know how to sew?
Well, for a tailor it is absolutely necessary while for fashion designers, they can employ the services of a tailor while they create the designs. Stylists don’t know how to sew but they work closely with designers a lot.
Do you have a formal education relating to fashion?
I studied Biology Education in school and when I travelled, I attended Fashion Institute and Technology in New York for a short course on Fashion Designing and Merchandizing. I had also loved fashion from when I was a kid but I never imagined going into it full scale; my initial operations was buying and selling until I went for that course and I decided to go into mass production.
If given the opportunity, what are those things you will fix in the Nigerian fashion industry?
Aside infrastructure like the basic amenities to keep production running, I will like to educate a lot of people most especially the market women to sell made-in-Nigeria products more instead of investing heavily on foreign names and brands. I also would like to improve on the manufacturing aspect of fashion by setting up a large manufacturing unit for designers for either lease or buy for their use. If we are going to canvass for made-in-Nigeria products, then we should be ready to improve on quality and educate more fashion enthusiasts.
What is the concept behind your ‘Fashion Is Life’ fashion show?
Fashion Is Life is an Elan Red initiative; it is an avenue for us to bring together style influencers, stylists, and their favourite designers and end consumer in a fun-fashion savvy environment. The first edition had Noble Igwe and he chose a number of designers who showcased and it was a thrilling experience for both us and the guests. This is my first independently organized show and it was a huge success.
How often would you be organizing the event?
Based on the survey we carried, it would be annually and I guarantee you next year’s own would be bigger. We discover a lot of people want to see these designers on the runway and could buy off pieces they love, so by next year we would have both the runway and exhibition segment.
What are your thoughts on designers having their own fashion show?
It is very paramount for designers to have their own show if they have the finances although it is not also a bad idea to showcase during the larger fashion show. The essence of having your fashion show gives you levity and allows for creativity which leads to healthy competition amongst the fashion industry.
What is next for you?
I will be opening a new Elan Red Store on the mainland because we observe lots of people order from the mainland and it would be nice to have a store where people can walk in. Also, we would keep pushing the Fashion Is Life to make it better and more interesting to participants.
Culled from Issue 18