FAST rising designer and comedian, AY’s kid brother, Makun Olorunyomi Omoniyi, better known as Yomi Casual is arguably one of the hottest designers in the country at the moment. His artistic designs for big names and A-list celebrities have distinguished the graduate of Fashion Designing, Auchi Polytechnic. For his hard work, he was crowned as the new hottest designer at the just concluded City People Fashion and Style Awards.
On Friday, February 17, 2012, at his office in Aguda, Surulere, Lagos, Yomi Casual spoke on his sojourn in the fashion world and how he became celebrities’ first choice designer, among other issues.
How did you start?
I studied Fashion Designing and Clothing Technology at Auchi Polytechnic, so fashion started from there. At first, it wasn’t easy for me. The first and second year was very discouraging. I always believed that fashion was meant for ladies not for men. I was ashamed. I could not even tell my friends I was studying Fashion Designing.
Whenever I went home on holidays and my friends asked how school and what department I was, I just said I was in the Art department.
When I got to 200 level, it started making sense. With the help of one of my white lecturers, Mrs. Braimah, she really encouraged me. She started using top designers abroad as examples, telling me that fashion wasn’t only meant for women and I should put my mind to it. She also told me that she saw creativity in me and liked all my sketches. By my third year, I just saw myself sewing. I don’t really know where the spirit came from and then it became fun. During our exhibition in school was when I really got encouraged. Some external coordinators came from Abuja to see how we were doing because it was a newly accredited course/department in Auchi.
Everyone was coming out with different designs and they were going through the normal procedures to make an outfit but I did different things. I broke the rules, my lecturer told me that the first step was to learn the rules, and then break them as far as you can defend the rules you are breaking. When I got on the runway with my designs, everybody was clapping and impressed. When I got home, the encouragement inspired me to do more stuffs.
You clothe a lot of celebrities and big names, how did you get yourself attached to them?
It is God. In every business, one must have a backbone. My big brother is my backbone. AY the comedian. He has been more than a brother to me, he’s been like a father. He supported me right from day one. He even forced me to move to Lagos from Warri. There was this lovely outfit I made for him and he wore it to an event, it was a customized outfit with AY all over it. A lot of people admired it on him and he introduced me to them. Before I knew it, everyone was placing order.
All of a sudden, I started rocking with celebrities and making clothes for them, thanks to my big brother, AY.
Who are some of the celebrities you’ve worked with?
From the entertainment industry, Timaya, 2Face, Mike Ezuruonye, Susan Peters, Ramsey Nouah, D’Prince, Uti, Kevin Pam, Sammy Okposo, Majeed Michel, Yvonne Nelson and a lot of others I can’t remember now. Then other dignitaries like the Governor of Lagos State. I’m the one behind his children’s wardrobe, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Honourable Kuku, the Commissioner for Sports, Delta State, Mr. Dilly Motors and so many of them.
Seems you are specialized in making kaftans?
I’m specialized in making tunic tops, with embroidery. Embroidery is like my trademark. I am even surprised that people know my work and it gives me joy.
There was a time I was in Delta State, I wore one of my customized jeans designed with damask, and I saw two boys arguing if it was a Yomi Casual product. I was just looking at them, they had to bet before one of them, boldly came to ask me if it was a Yomi Casual product. I said yes, I was like even the kids on the street know my product, that gives me so much joy.
What have been the challenges of doing business in Nigeria?
Everybody faces different challenges in their business but me I have not really faced any crisis because everything has been going on smoothly, thank God for creativity. Even during the hard times and during the removal of subsidy, people were still coming to buy because I am creative. So, everything has been going fine. I have not faced much challenge.
Who are your role models?
My role model has always been Mudi. He has impacted a lot in my life. I love his finishing. Many people that know Mudi would know that I am following his steps. His designs are unique, simple and classy.
As a designer, what do you think is the secret of looking good for men?
First, it’s not about the outfit, it is about the person. It starts from the person. His hygiene, his skin and how he carries himself, because if I give someone who doesn’t look good a lovely outfit, it won’t look good on him.
Does the colour of the person determine the type of outfit you make for them?
Yes, it does. Basically, if I am to make an outfit for a light skinned person, I am supposed to use dark fabric, not bright colours. Not like I am not supposed to, I can but if I am to follow the rule, a light skinned person is supposed to wear a dark coloured fabric and a dark person is supposed to wear a bright coloured fabric. But my favourite is black. I am very dark but that is my favourite colour.
I always stand out in black. You can wear black anywhere and you will stand out. Just put little details and you will stand out. I made something like that for AY and he called me and was like Yomi, anywhere I go, people always say, it’s simple and unique.
In the nearest future, where do you see yourself?
In the nearest future, my greatest dream is to see my product in everybody’s wardrobe. I want my name to be heard in every home, I want everyone to have a Yomi Casual outfit in their wardrobe.
Are you married?
I am not married, but I am not single and not searching. Very soon Yomi Casual will be hitting the altar. But mind you, soon is no time. You will hear wedding bells around the corner.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, February 21, 2012