OKIKI MARINHO may be a new entrant to the Nigerian fashion industry. But her pieces are set to redefine the Nigerian luxury industry. In this interview, she tells FUNKE OSAE-BROWN about her exquisite pieces.
A model struts the runway in a flowing gown made of chiffon. The piece is accentuated by a handbag. Both pieces were made by Okiki Marinho. It was the 2015 edition of the Africa Fashion Week in Lagos. I could tell a great deal of creativity went into the pieces created. Perhaps some of the outstanding creations at the event were those by Okiki Marinho, an eponymous label owned by Okiki Marinho.
Indeed, her brand has grown from Liberal Designs as it was called to a more upscale label with a bag and shoe line. Marinho started Liberal Designs four years ago in a little corner at Ikoyi. It was a tailoring outfit which she established to cater to the needs of women who complained about being disappointed by tailors.
“Liberal Designs was established two years ago in Lagos,” she told me two years ago when I first met her. A tailoring outfit is a business she runs outside her eight to five job working at an oil service company on the Island at the time`. “When I thought of the High street shops abroad, and the affordable fashionable pieces I had enjoyed in the span of my life, I felt there was a need to provide quality clothing at competitive prices using resources in the country.”
In addition, she also was tired of people’s incessant complaints about tailors’ disappointment while tailors on the other hand are complaining of customers often unrealistic expectations. And so, Marinho believes an online tailoring store which finds solutions to these problems is the answer. Her online tailoring outfit takes customer’s orders and instantly gives them a collection date. Liberal designs has since metamorphosed into Okiki Marinho Label.
She says her 2015 collection which she showcased at the African Fashion Week was inspired by the grace she has been experiencing in her life.
“The grace that I have been experiencing in all areas of my life inspired the title of my 2015 collection. This collection was significant because it was partially dedicated to women who struggle with fertility issues. I wanted to celebrate their strength and courage through fashion,” she says.
For the collection, the predominant fabrics she used were silks, chiffons and lace. Marinho says: “I felt they would create the classy, elegant and free flowing effect I wanted. There were many challenges putting the line together especially with the fuel scarcity occurring at the time which affected productivity levels. Thank God I still managed to complete the line within one month.”
Her outing at the African Fashion Week was her debut. Until then, she has been involved in making made-to-measure pieces. “The collection was my debut collection. Until now, we have primarily focused on made-to-measure, however now we have a range of ready to wear pieces.”
A yellow lace dress she tells me is the heart of her collection for the fashion Week.
“The dress that was the heart of this collection is the yellow lace dress which was dedicated to Model Millen Magese who is battling fertility issues. You can check out her awareness campaign on Instagram @EndometriosisAfrica where she is advocating for a cure. That particular piece was a voice for women and the need for us to stand together in unity.”
Marinho has not really been doing shows since her Okiki Marinho label was launched. She says her quiet times were moments she spent strategising. “I wanted to take time out and re-strategise to see how I could take my line to the next level and what methods would be most effective for my brand.”
Part of her plans is to push her label ashore in 2015. “In order to make the Okiki Marinho brand more international, I am presently working on stocking my products in boutiques internationally as well as e-commerce. I’m also looking into partnering with other brands and increasing my online presence.”
In addition, she is already putting together a collection for summer 2015. “The focus for my next collection will be Capes, Palaso pants, High Low blouses, and double breasted dresses. Although knowing my creative mind I might go with another focus. I don’t have a showroom yet, but I do plan to open one in the near future. Although we have a small shop in Ikoyi that serves as a showroom and we receive customers there.”
Okiki says her small shop at Ikoyi doubles at her showroom. It is a place she has sought refuge and it is there she is frequently visited by the creative muse. “I have been running this shop for the last 3 years. It has served as a space where clients can come and see our pieces and buy off the rack or do made to measure. It’s going strong. My clients should expect continued quality, and a range of unique designs that make them look and feel elegant and chic.”
Driven by the desire to see every woman look and feel beautiful, she says she wants every woman’s unique beauty to be elucidated through Okiki Marinho designs. “I am inspired by life and the uniqueness and individuality of women. I am inspired by their beauty, strength, and peculiar characteristics.”
Her bag line is truly highend and it is repositioning the Okiki Marinho as a homegrown luxury brand. “The Okiki Marinho bag line consists of several luxury bags which come in different shapes and sizes. My bags are peculiar because they’re handcrafted out of pure and authentic leather.”