By Vivian Onyebukwa
Gabby Ibeabuchi is one of Nigeria’s notable fashion designers. Before he finally went into fashion, he was a model and he did jobs for some top fashion designers, including Dakova, Mudi, Zizi Cardow, Kese Jabari and Frank Osodi, among others. He equally dabbled into telecommunications and banking before he finally went into the fashion business, the area he was so passionate about. As a model, Gabby, who is the Founderand Creative Director of Twelve06, a fashion brand, was the brand ambassador for so many companies , which included MTN and FCMB for years. He was also the first Best ECOWAS Male Model in 2002.
In this interview with VIVIAN ONYEBUKWA, he spoke about the fashion business, among other issues.
What inspired your brand name, Twelve06?
Twelve06 means December 6th. The day I was born.
Why fashion business?
I started as a model doing both fashion and photography. I have over 100 fashion shows to my credit. Working with different fashion designers influenced my desire to make a difference in the fashion space. I saw a lot of lapses and I knew I could mend them. Fashion is not just making clothes, you have to produce what the wearer wants in a way it will suit both his body structure and the essence of the design. I wanted to achieve that and more. Currently, we have over 350 different unique designs in different sizes and shapes alongside topnotch customer service. We are constantly seeking new ways to make it easier and better for the customers, making sure you get your money’s worth at all times. A lot of people were perplexed when I left a high paying banking job to become a fashion designer. I truly love what I do because I am very passionate about it and it’s fulfilling for me. We are constantly reinventing ourselves to serve you better and you can only expect more from us.
Why did you decide to go into men’s fashion?
I can’t say there is any particular reason for that because we currently do a little bit of women’s clothing. Our choice was influenced by the fact that I did a lot of modelling for fashion designers and probably know a lot more about men’s fashion.
We are currently working on our ready-to-wear line, which will cater for women and subsequently children. We are launching our urban footwear line first quarter of next year and it will include women as well. Twelve06 is an all-inclusive fashion line, just that we had to start where we had more competitive advantage.
Do you believe that men are not as stylish as women?
Men are actually as stylish as women, only that women most times go extra mile to look good, unlike some men. Women are naturally more self-conscious; hence, they appear more stylish. Women most times stock and wear more clothes than men. They explore more colours and designs. They actually wear more colourful and appealing designs.
What colours are a no-no for men?
Currently there are no more colours that is a no-no for men. Men are beginning to be exploring and daring these days. However there are few colours that a lot of men are not eager to explore in a hurry, e. g lemon, yellow and purple, depending on the shade.
What fashion style is in vogue for men when it comes to traditional outfit?
A lot of male fashion consumers are going in the direction of simplicity, smart and stylish. The old styles are being revolutionised and coming back to trend in a very contemporary stylish pieces. Example is the three quarter sleeve for men’s kaftan that is currently in vogue at the moment. It comes out really beautiful when sewn to fit.
Men are beginning to explore colours and our Nigerian designers are really doing justice to it.
How lucrative is the men’s fashion business?
I think lucrative is very relative. Every business can actually be lucrative. It all depends on a lot of factors. Men’s fashion business is lucrative when you understand and apply all relevant inputs. Every business requires certain rudiments and protocols, which determine the level of results you get. Understanding of the business, creativity, customer service, reinventing yourself as well as staying relevant to the needs of your current and prospective customers will always create an edge for any business any time.
How can you describe the Nigeria fashion industry?
Nigeria fashion is dominantly heading to the global stage. It is one of the few industries that are growing at a geometric progression. It is highly competitive, which guarantees excellent growth and development in the long run. You can’t survive the Nigeria fashion space in a long time if you are not creatively evolving. I love the direction the industry is heading. I just returned from Durban, South Africa to attend the Intra-Africa trade fair, which is the biggest in Africa. A lot of Nigerian designers were conspicuously represented and everyone admired our craft, hence so many connections and opportunities consummated. I couldn’t be more proud as a designer at this time. Few months ago also, I was selected among 20 Nigerians under the IVLP program sponsored by the United States. The aim is to improve trade relations in the fashion industry between Nigeria and the US. I consider it one of the best things that have happened to the Nigeria fashion industry. Buyers from around the world are getting more comfortable to purchase and deal with Nigeria fashion
designers. From next quarter, we shall begin export to the US tax free under the IVLP program. Nigeria fashion is fast becoming a household name just like our music. I am a proud Nigerian fashion designer.
What is the state of business as regards to fashion in Nigeria with regards to the state of the economy now?
Fashion was one of the worst hit by the pandemic. It was actually my greatest challenge ever as a fashion designer. At some point, it was more about survival than looking good and so many businesses went down. We are among the few that survived and we are grateful for that. Things are actually beginning to pick up, and hopefully, in a short time, we’ll begin to blossom again. Above all, passion has kept us moving. The future is looking bright and we are surely going to keep standing out as a brand.
What is style to you?
Fashion is what designers offer you while style is how you personally blend it to suit you. Style is personal and can be relative. Sometimes you can make a little shift from the usual to suit the relevance of your needs per time and there is no harm if it works. There is actually no permanent way to style. Most times, what works for a lot more people becomes trend.
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By Vivian Onyebukwa Gabby Ibeabuchi is one of Nigeria’s notable fashion designers. Before he finally went into…
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