This week’s column is on Meena: a Nigerian based fashion brand making a huge impact in the ready to wear/custom made market. The brand’s head designer and Creative Director; Uju Offiah, has painstakingly built the Meena brand to where it stands now; a “revered” name in the fashion circles and for consumers at large, consistently churning out gorgeous, well constructed designs one collection at a time.
Miss Offiah’s talent is quite extra-ordinary. Her pieces stock at Zinkata and we ever so often find buyers of Meena pieces expressing their fascination with her craft,design and fabrication choices as well as their glee at how well her pieces fit/flatter their figures.
1. Ezinne Chinkata: How long has it been since the inception of Meena?
Uju Offiah: Meena has been running since January 2011
2. Ezinne Chinkata: Has your aesthetic changed/shifted from what it was in the beginning?
Uju Offiah: The Meena aesthetic has not changed since its inception. Over the years, there has been more of clarity, advancement and a deep sense of conviction in our DNA.
3. Ezinne Chinkata: Who is the woman/girl you imagine when you design?
Uju Offiah: Most times, my imagination is clear-cut. I envision a modern sui generis type of woman who loves to standout! She is subtly confident, ageless and exudes a mix of understated elegance and refinement.
4. Ezinne Chinkata: If you were to live in another continent asides Africa, where would you choose, what country and why?
Uju Offiah: I would choose Europe, France to be precise. This is because I can see Meena pieces on the runway, in retail stores, being street-styled in individualistic ways there. I love the non-fussy deep parisienne chic vibe. I also love Asia and can see Meena positively placed there.
5. Ezinne Chinkata: Fashion is quite demanding work with long hours and the constant need to evolve and remain up to date with new shapes. How do you stay inspired?
Uju Offiah: Fashion designing for me is a lifestyle which I totally enjoy – the good, bad and overwhelmingly hectic days. In the midst of this, I try to stay inspired by savoring my solitude ( I really don’t joke with such moments) and getting lost in my ‘own’ world. This special moment is therapeutic and keeps me vibrant thereby awakening my senses to more inspiration.
6.E.C: How do you keep the Meena pieces consistently individual and unique?
U.O: I think this has been more of a subconscious approach. Every Meena piece is designed with love from my heart. The aim being to make the Meena girl look and feel special while boosting her confidence. I tend to realize each piece is individualistic after the design process.
7. E.C: What role does growing up and residing in Africa play in the mean brand?
U.O: Africa has played a key role in my design aesthetic and I’m thankful for having my start-up years here in Nigeria. I have learnt to look inwards – appreciating and taking into cognisance the full-figured silhouette of the African Woman. There is inspiration everywhere in Africa. I draw inspiration from the Ibo history in Nigeria when designing and I am excited about researching ,garnering knowledge on other tribes too. I am able to interpret and share a part of the Nigerian story with the world through the Meena brand.
8. E.C: What is the one piece we would most likely always see in Meena on the runway?
U.O: The pant set. We will always try a new twist to this look. Re-inventing and keeping it fresh.
9. E.C: Do you have any tips for a new designer set to create her very first collection?
U.O: The essence of putting God first can never be over-emphasized. I pray you’re burning with passion : ) Never box yourself in while creating – think, dream and let loose. Your aesthetic may seem awkward to the world at first but with a clear mark of originality and consistency, you are on the pathway to becoming a remarkable constant.
Photo Credits: Kola Oshalusi