Fashune is a choice fashion label in Canada owned and run by Olumuyiwa Fasoranti; a Nigerian of Yoruba descent who dumped his IT consultancy job after 20 years on the terrain, to pursue his passion. A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, Fasoranti believes the Nigerian fashion industry is not taking advantage of the inherent advantages therein because Africans are yet to recognize the Industry. In this interview with MANNY ITA, Fasoranti speaks extensively on how Africa’s fashion sector can be positioned to become a veritable vehicle for employment and revenue generation, and also how it can serve as a connector between Africa and the diaspora.
What propelled you into the fashion industry?
That’s a good question that I get asked all the time. I get asked why I left a high paying job to start a business you know nothing about. To me, money is not everything. There is nothing like doing what you enjoy doing. Since my secondary school days in International School, Ibadan (ISI), I always had a passion for fashion and loved to dress nice. As a matter of fact, my nickname back then was Fashion. What actually propelled me into the Fashion Industry was, I identified a vacuum in the Fashion Industry in Canada and I capitalized on it. I noticed that there were really not many choices for men that love formal clothing. To wear a nice suit or tuxedo, people were paying too much because they had to go to all these high end stores to get them. So, I started designing suits and tuxedos, sourced for tailors and fabrics in Europe and the rest is history to the glory of God.
How has the journey been so far?
The journey has not been a bed of roses, just like any new start-up, it comes with different challenges. We thank God for where we are today and where He is taking us. More people are getting to know about our Flagship Store, thanks to all our supporters and clients. I have been able to establish partnerships with big brands in the industry, for example; Eton shirts of Sweden, Superglamorous shoes from Milan and a few others.
What are some of the challenges that come with running a business overseas?
One major challenge in running a business overseas is having a good credit rating. Once that is established, the other things will fall in place. Another challenge is putting the resources together. You do not have to wait till you have $100,000 to start a business, you can start on a low scale.
In what meaningful ways can Africans like you in the diaspora connect with Africa?
Africans are one of the best dressed people in the world today. We also have great and talented designers at home and abroad. What we really need in Africa is exposure. We need to showcase our crafts and our talents. We also need to support one other.
What is your opinion about the African fashion industry?
I think African Fashion is taking over the World. We just need to showcase it more internationally and support the designers.
How can African heritage and traditional fabrics be promoted in the diaspora?
African heritage and tradition are being promoted already, but we need to do a lot more. For example; In Canada, there is an annual event themed ‘African Fashion Week.’ This event showcases African fashion and culture. I think if this is done in regularly in other countries, it will go a long way in promoting African heritage and culture.
What are some of the challenges you have to deal with?
The major challenge is getting sponsors for the event.
Do you have any investment plan in Nigeria?
Yes, but not disclosing it yet.
What are some of the platforms African designers can showcase their works internationally?
One of the platforms is what I mentioned earlier. African Fashion Week. This platform will be a good platform for Africans in diaspora to connect with African designers locally to form a great fusion. Also, there has to be great collaboration showcasing their works.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act allows duty-free entry to U.S. markets; do you think African designers are fully taking advantage of this initiative?
I do not think so, because I am not even aware of such Act. I always pay taxes when I import stuffs into Canada.
African textiles and prints are usually showcased in the international market by Western designers who make thousands of dollars therefrom; what can be done to make African designers more in control?
I think we are getting there slowly. A great Nigerian designer in the United Kingdom, Adebayo Jones is taking the lead on that. We Africans just need to support and encourage ourselves.
What inspired the name of your fashion collection, fashune?
The name was coined from my nickname in the University. A few of my friends called me Fashion or Fashune back then. When I was thinking of a name for my fashion label, that came in handy. I just added a twist with the accent on the e (é)
What plans do you have for your brand in the near future?
I have big plans for my brand. I have a female line now called Femme_Fashune. I plan to launch both brands in Africa early next year.
How can the African fashion industry be positioned to take advantage of its huge potential in revenue and employment generation?
The only way the African Fashion Industry can be positioned to take advantage of its huge potential in revenue and employment generation is for the Africans to first of all recognize the Industry. The fashion Industry is not recognized in Africa like in the US and Europe.
Do you think the lack of fashion programs in our schools could be a part of the problem?
How can international presence be garnered for African fabrics and textiles?
The only way that can be achieved is by showcasing African fabrics and Textiles locally and globally.
Give a brief biography of yourself
My name is Olumuyiwa Fasoranti. I live in Ontario, Canada. I migrated to Canada in June, 1996. I went to International School Ibadan for my secondary school and later proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife for my college education. When I got to Canada, this was the dot.com era and there was a big buzz about Information Technology (IT) then. I enrolled at Humber College for Computer Programing, obtained my Diploma and started working as an IT Consultant. I worked as a consultant for over 20 years until I decided to follow my passion – (Fashion) in 2017. I started my clothing label, Fashuné
A word for aspiring and extant African designers.
I’ll like to say this to them. “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”.
For more impressive achievers stories, click here.