Cover Stories, Fashion, Interviews

Ebele Udoh unveils African Designers Mall

Ebele Udoh 1-IMG-20160319-WA0056

African Designers Mall (ADM), which seeks to meet the retail business challenge of the African fashion industry by being the leading online vendor for African designers and fabrics, has unveiled its brand.

The event which held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Sunday, March 13, 2016, was full of glitz and glamour as fashion designers exhibited their latest collections.

Partnering Martell Nigeria, ADM, an online mall for African fashion, targets budding African designers across the globe.

Speakers at the well- attended event included Sola Oke (Marketing Director, Martell), Funmi Ladipo (FADAN President), Adebisi Ajayi (Group Head, Gender Business Bank of Industry), Maureen Ideozu (Technical Adviser to CEO, Nigeria Export and Promotion Council, Lanre Da Silva Ajaji (Creative Director LDA) and Ebele Udoh (Managing Director, African Designers Mall Ltd).

Others were top African designers, fashion professionals, fashion celebrity influencers, fashion stylists, fashion bloggers, IT business owners…

ENCOMIUM Weekly’s Glory Osigwe had a chat with ADM’s MD/CEO, Ebele Udoh, where she spoke about her business project, the future of African designers and much more.


What inspired African Designers Mall (ADM)?

I love fashion a lot. So, one day, I was shopping on these international platforms and I said to myself, we don’t have an African mall where we could just shop any African designer of our choice. That’s how I told myself I am going to do this by incorporating E-commerce and African fashion together. I thought about the name that is so catchy that when you hear it you know it is about fashion and e-mall.

Do you think Nigerians are ready for this?

Yes, they are ready. A good number of Nigerians are online shoppers and most things they shop for are fashion related. Because there is no platform like that, they have not seen the need. But trust me, let’s see what will happen when we officially launch, may be you will ask me that question again.

What is the significance of today’s event?

A lot of people here are African designers, African Fashion lovers, celebrities as well, IT office owners and IT elite. So, the reason for this event is to educate people on E-commerce and their need to go from just selling products to fashion retail because a lot of people see the need to produce more of these and spread the price, then it will be affordable.

Like Lanre Da Silva said, she wants to sell her products, if there is a market. The reason African designers are not on any platform now is because there is no exclusive platform. Most platforms have TV’ and nobody wants to represent their brands there because they are all about luxury. Some are also high fashion. But this is just an exclusive platform for designers all over the world.

1-IMG-20160318-WA0020What platform would lead to people because a lot of designers still believe in the old fashion?

That is why I partner Martell, an international brand. They have come to Africa, they are the biggest distribution house in the world. They are in Africa for a reason. A big brand cannot come to Africa just to play. They understand our vision. We have had a lot of meetings with designers one- on- one, about how we can help serve them better.  They have a lot of problems with shipping. They have problems with people copying their products.

We have discussed all these things. We want to throw it open to more designers today.

With all these, what is the future of African fashion?

We hope by May 13, 2016, you would be able to buy African fashion anywhere in the world. If you were in America and you want to buy Lanre Da Silva’s product, you can go on the platform and buy and it will be shipped to you. If you want to buy Ade Bakare’s product in London, you purchase it and it will be shipped to you. We partner with DHL, Courier Plus to make this possible. We are using Interswitch as payment platform. So, there is no restriction.

How user friendly is it going to be?

We’e very user – friendly because we are creating a social media platform that you can share with your friends. There is Facebook incorporated, Instagram, Google and Tweeter. There is a blog on it as well.

So, as you are shopping, you can just go to the blog and ask what is happening in African fashion to know who is trending. You can also see what others are buying on the platform. You can see what is trending. So, it is really user- friendly, it is not complicated.

How ready do you think Nigerian market is going to accept the idea?

They are ready to know what is going to hit them, but the most important thing is that people love to wear African brands now unlike years ago when people bought fabrics and took them to the tailor to make anything for them. So, right now, people want to wear African designs, even people abroad want to wear African designers. So, I think they are ready.

What steps are you taking to educate fashion designers to maximize the utility platform?

That is the reason for this seminar.

Aside this, what about fashion entrepreneurs who are not aware of this but want to participate?

They would all be reached. And most of them have been reached. The reason some of them are not here may be because they are not around, but they would be reached. Besides, they understand the platform.

Something that kept reoccurring at the event were the challenges people face even with the fabrics. Are you looking at addressing issues that have to do with government and ensuring that there is a production hub to help them grow their business?

Like I said, I am not in government. I am doing the best I can. ADM’s plan is to have a hub where we bring in up and coming designers. They are under our wings; we will provide every sort of sewing materials they need but since they can’t come as an individual on the platform, they don’t have that responsibility of owning a brand. We are creating their dreams through us, so that is one of the things we are doing.

I’m not going to create a big hub for all designers, we have to start from somewhere and that is a huge step to create a hub for up and coming designers to sell their products and still make money through our platform which is already there to sell their products across the world. So, it is an amazing opportunity.


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