Ifeanyi Okonkwo is the boss of fashion and style outfit, Message on Opebi Road, Ikeja, Lagos. For 16 unbroken years, Message has been in the business of dressing up people of style. In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, Okonkwo outlined what he intends to achieve with Message, reasons he does not use professional models and more…
Several years down the line, you have consistently accelerated your pace in fashion and style and still setting new standards. What keeps you going?
First, we are able to stay in the industry because of my passion for what I do. I wake up, think, dream, and talk about fashion and style all the time and that has kept us going. In years to come, you are still going to see more colours, more styles, more of what is about to come and new concepts.
We saw a new group photo content for an advert, what is the idea behind this concept?
We call it The Fashion Drive which will be coming up more often. We intend to show people what fashion and style is all about periodically, show them different styles put together in one place. The purpose of the photo shoot is for people to see what we are doing, the stuff we are made of.
From the photo content, we discovered the likes of actor IK Ogbonna, Dapo Olatunji and even the publisher of ENCOMIUM Weekly, Kunle Bakare. Are you trying to turn them to some models of sort?
They are people with style and I like to see the model aspect of them too. I want to see them wear clothes, especially those of Message. Everybody in that photo shoot are friends of the house. They have been our customers for years.
The publisher himself, Kunle Bakare has been with us since inception. He bought from us and has supported us as well. So is Okey Bakassi, Dapo, IK Ogbonna and all those that featured in the picture. They are all friends of the house. We don’t use professional models, we use friends of the house, people that have been supporting what we have been doing.
From what you said, they are all friends of the house, do you mean you didn’t spend a fortune considering the calibre of people in that picture content?
They all came to support what we do, Okey Bakassi, IK Ogbonna, Dapo Olatunji and every other person in the photo shoot. We all brought styles together to showcase to the public.
We also noticed a very brilliant innovation and new stocks. What brought about that?
We just want to keep with the modern time. We don’t want to be called old school. So, we ensure that we are in touch with time. We are here to cater for everybody, those that love style and can afford us and we go out of our way to ensure we give them the best and take care of their basic needs in terms of style.
Since the emergence of President Buhari, has there been a low approach to business?
Not really. If we must talk about drop in sales maybe during the Ramadan period and now that the Sallah is over, we are catching up again.
Can you tell us what’s new we don’t know about Message?
Basically, we keep improving what we do, we keep styling people, we have new concepts, introducing more colours like never before because we want to keep brightening up people. So, you are expected to see more colours to what we do.
We have promised to keep the trend, we are introducing what people have not seen, we have things for everybody even children equally come here to buy as well.
You are one of the pioneers of the fashion industry, are there people you look up to?
In fashion, I’m just doing my thing in my own way but that does not mean I don’t have people that I look up to or people I admire so much when I was growing up. I used to have a very good friend, he was one of the people that inspired me and he runs a fashion house called Phenomenon on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. He inspired me to come into the industry.
How long have you been in the fashion industry?
This is our 16th year in the fashion industry. We have been here since 1999 and the journey has been sweet and smooth.
What brought about the name, Message?
The name, Message mean we are always there to pass a message to the public. We set the pace while others follow.