Remilekun Owadokun popularly known as Remi Buttons is a fashion designer and the creative director/CEO of Buttons Couture.
The second of three children, Remi was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil to a Nigerian father from Ondo State and a Brazilian mother. Remi’s family moved back to Nigeria when she was very little, where she had her primary and secondary school education.
From 2010, when she unveiled her first collection to this year when she launched Bravitude, she’s had Nigerian stars such as M.I, Flowsick, Derenle, P-Square, 2Face, Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz, Brymo, Iyanya, Chidinma, Praiz, Eva, Uti Nwachukwu and many more wearing her pieces for their videos, movies, performances, events, and photo shoots.
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, she speaks passionately about her 2013 collection, Bravitude, why she makes more of men’s clothes, her view of the Nigerian fashion industry and much more.
Briefly tell us about your background, education and family?
My name is Remi Buttons, I was born Remilekun Manoela Carolino Owadokun to a Yoruba medical doctor father and a Brazilian Linguistic mother. I have two brothers. I was born in Brazil in 1987. I studied in Nigeria and Italy and I recently completed fashion school in Milan, Italy.
When and how did you venture into designing?
It was not planned, I was always sketching out of boredom and my mom advised me to do something with it and I simply took her advice.
How did you come about your brand name Buttons Couture?
I wanted something that could speak for itself, a name that you would hear and just know. At the time, all my clothes were adorned by buttons so it only made sense to use the name Buttons Couture. It was like my trademark
What challenges did you face when you started and how did you overcome them?
Finding a tailor that could interpret my work was hard, it took me more than a year to find one, lack of electricity was also a problem for me and marketing my products. However identifying the problems I faced made me look for solutions. I asked other people in the business, Google always had answers for me. And I was determined to make it work for me, no matter what.
What job gave you your ‘big break’?
I had many levels of ‘big breaks’ I had a big break into the entertainment industry when I was introduced to Jesse Jagz and made him a jacket for the City People Awards, I got another break when I met Denrele and I became his official designer. In recent times I would say when I made the jackets for P-Square for the Alingo video.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is an outward expression of a person’s inner sense of style. Fashion is how we see ourselves.
Is it true that you only do men’s designs and why?
No, it’s not true, I make for male and female. I work with men more, I find them easier to work with because they know what they want. Also, I work in an industry dominated mostly by the men folk.
Is using celebrities as models your business strategy and why?
Yes, it was, I say was because I will be changing strategies for the next collection. I used celebrity models because the kind of clothes I make are worn by performing artistes. They are very flashy and can not be used in any gathering that is not red carpet friendly. The entertainment industry is my market and I used celebrity models as my selling point
How affordable are your designs?
They are affordable, though affordability is an individual thing. My pieces are worth saving towards.
Which designers, local or foreign fascinate you and why?
Alexander McQueen fascinates me always! When I see his products, I am challenged to be more creative.
Which are the major celebs that you’ve designed for that you’re most proud of?
P-Square Alingo jackets and Denrele’s wardrobe.
Would you say venturing into fashion has been worthwhile?
In the beginning I was not sure but now… Yes, I can say that
What’s your view of the fashion industry in Nigeria?
The fashion industry in Nigeria is growing fast and it’s filled with endless possibilities
Tell us about Bravitude 2013. What inspired it, what it means and your expectations from it?
Bravitude means the act of bravery. I coined the name because it took me a lot of bravery to design a collection with print. I was not used to working with anything that does not bling. It took me a lot of courage to decide the line-up of models and get the resources I needed to make it a reality. The campaign was the longest I have ever done, I had a team to drive the social media marketing, I had a lot of support from the public in general and I can say I achieved more than I expected. I am looking forward to my next project already.
What do you aspire to achieve with Buttons Couture?
To become a global brand, there is nothing sexy about being a local champion
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday,August 20, 2013