Adebayo Oke, 22, bustles with ideas and is a bundle of energy and talents. A fashion designer, he runs Orange Culture, a fashion house. One of the young talents making a mark in the Nigerian fashion industry, he opens up in this interview about his passion
 Q: For one who worked in the banking hall, how did you delve into fashion?
A: Yes I once worked as a banker briefly. Then, I moved to an oil company, where I worked for a year before I left to face fashion squarely.  Fashion is where my passion lies and I remember as a 12-year-old, I used to buy foreign magazines and try out the sketches in them. My note books in school were always filled with my sketches and people were always wondering what my sketches were all about. But I knew what I was doing and where I was heading. It took me a while to get to where I am now, but I am glad I eventually did and I am beginning to get the recognition I desire.
Q: If you were so in love with fashion, why did you study banking and finance?
A: Even though I am proud of the fact that I made a Second Class Upper degree the University of Lagos, I still do not regret studying it. I wanted a degree that would help my business. I don’t want just another fashion label. I want to grow a business that would go beyond me. In fact I didn’t want to study in a university; I wanted to acquire knowledge in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. My parents had to explain to me why I had to go to school and I understood perfectly well. I am thankful for the opportunity I got and I believe no knowledge is lost. My certificate does come handy as it is currently helping me to manage my business. There is finance in every industry including fashion. However, I may likely still do a few things in finance.
Q: Did you get any form of training in fashion?
A: I started fashion and design while still in the university. About four years ago, I started off interning with designers like Kiki Kamanu and Zebra Living. I also began styling and had an outfit called Bubbai. I styled celebrities such as Tiwa Savage, Mo’Cheddah and other people for photo shoots. I was doing this for a while but I have stopped.  All these were to prepare me for the creation of my fashion house. I knew where I was going and wanted to pay my dues. The dues I paid helped me create networks that pushed me speedily to where I am today, with my foot properly cemented in the Nigerian fashion industry, and hopefully soon, the world.  Fashion makes me happy, it is fulfilling and exciting.
Q: Why the name Orange Culture?
A: There was a period I used to write articles for some fashion magazines and the column was called, Orange Boy. It was about people who were interested in unique things. It was about people who accepted who they were irrespective of what others thought. From those articles, people began to call me Orange Boy. Inspired by my own articles, I decided to name my label, Orange Culture. I wanted something that was different. It is a culture, a movement towards accepting being different and loving yourself for it.
Q: What opposition came your way while leaving the bank for fashion?
A: Of course, opposition came but not out of hatred. Acceptance has been hard but people are coming around to accept change and to realise that change can be a good thing. My parents wanted the best for me and wanted to be sure I was doing the right thing. They didn’t want me to leave certainty for uncertainty and suffer. I want to believe that my father opposed me out of love but today, he is my greatest supporter. I think it was a good start for me and it made me stronger.
Q: What was growing up like for you?
A:I am from Ibadan, Oyo State but I have lived all my life in Lagos. Growing up was quite good. My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Oke-Lawal, are quite loving and supportive. I have always been unique in my own way, never one to conform to the status quo.
Q: What inspires you while at work?
A: Life experiences, travels to various destinations, influences from different cultures and I infuse them into my own styles. I used to make unisex clothes but I am now focusing on men’s wear because the fashion industry for male clothing isn’t quite strong. When I have probably consolidated on my men’s wear, I will go back to making clothes for women. Women’s clothing can be quite tricky and I don’t want to do just what everyone is doing.
Q: What’s your take on competition?
A: Competition is good, it is healthy, and it keeps you on your feet, as you are constantly trying to be better. I respect and admire those who have been there before me. I believe in one industry, all of us working together to make the industry a better place.
Q: Do you have any role model?
A: I look up to a lot of people for different reasons. Everyone brings something different and that just makes you respect what each person is doing.
Q: How do you unwind?
A:I like to chill out with my few friends who are really amazing. I love my friends, they keep me grounded.
by Nkarenyi Ukonu


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