Gbenga Shobayo is the Creative Director of Lord Purple Bespoke Wears, popularly called Mr Purple or OjPurple. He shared his growing success story of his love, and passion for fashion designing as a career which is totally different from his initial choice of profession as a civil engineer. Gbenga Shobayo had a chat with Executive Hub and here is his inspiring story:
How did you come about the name and what does it mean?
It was in the first week of January 2020, I had a dream, and saw the name “LORD PURPLE” and the helmet of a Spartan boldly crafted on the wall at the reception of the building/company as I walked in with a big bold smile on my face as the CEO. I woke up, picked up my laptop and designed the logo as seen in the dream. As at that time, I was still in a joint business with my friend. So when you think of “Lord Purple”, think of an emperor, a warrior and royalty in its entirety. It may not make sense to you now, but just wait for it.
What is your niche and how did you know it was a market to get into?
I do bespoke wears, Suit, Agbada and Kaftan. There are three basic things a man needs to survive; cloth to cover our nakedness is one of them. There will always be a demand for clothing and so today, I’m meeting that demand.
Why did you choose this line of business instead of your first love of career?
It’s simply passion, the love for the craft, the joy of seeing the outcome of the brain work on my clients. And then the income was really encouraging and it was taking care of my basic needs.
How do you get the inspiration for your outfits?
It just comes naturally; source could be from art, culture, or history. For example, boot cut pants are not a trend at the moment but it was a trend in the late 70s and late 90s with different pattern cuts. It will come back again. All it takes is a brilliant creative mind with a corresponding inspirational and relative source. Same goes for vintage shirts, it was a trend in the 80s and now it is back and gradually leaving as well. My point basically is that we can get inspiration from history, culture and art.
What are some of the challenges you face in the business?
The challenges in this line of business are numerous but I will just talk about a few of them.
*Fashion is a wild and ever-changing industry, and we the designers have to stay on top of the latest trends and styles. The need to be able to predict what will be popular in the future while also staying true to your own unique vision and style can be mind-draining.
*The fashion industry is highly competitive, with everyone vying for attention and market share. We have to find ways to differentiate ourselves and stand out from the competition.
*The need to be able to produce designs within a given budget and timeframe in a country like Nigeria can make you have a rethink about your choices as a designer. We also need to ensure that the designs can be produced on a large scale, with consistent quality. I remember losing a big contract because I choose integrity over greed on this matter of consistent quality.
*We still have to be able to effectively market and brand our concept designs to attract customers and build a market base on social platforms which involves developing a strong visual identity, creating marketing materials, and building a social media presence. That is a lot if you ask me.
I can go on and on but above all, this fashion industry is very complex and challenging. So much that it requires a unique combination of creativity, business acumen, and technical know-how for you to stand and remain standing.
What is your most popular outfit/design in demand and other product variants?
Well, that should be the casual shirt/top. Apart from the unique concept and excellent choice of fabrics, I want to believe it’s because it takes lesser time to produce unlike the suits.
To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian (African) fabrics for your work?
As far as I know, virtually all fabrics and all tailoring materials are imported apart from Adire and Aso-Ofi also referred to as Aso-Oke which are locally made in Nigeria. Even the Aso-Ofi and Adire now have the “imported version”. But those that know and appreciate quality still go for the locally made ones not minding the cost.
What are some of your short term and long term goals both in your business and life in general?
Continue to create designs that stand out and set trends.
Create a collection of designs that work together to tell a story or convey a particular theme. My “Imperial collection” is in the pipelines.
Establish a well-grounded fashion house that meets all your needs as far as “wears” is concerned. By that I mean what we wear from head to toe.
Open annexes in major locations across the country, home and abroad.
Incorporating sustainable and ethical practices into my designs and production processes, with the aim to create outfits that is environmentally and socially responsible. Decency is a thread in royalty.
Building a successful business and turning it into an empire is the main goal, which involves creating a profitable and sustainable business model, building a loyal customer base, and expanding my reach in the fashion industry and beyond.
What profession would you be if you weren’t in this industry?
Undoubtedly, a civil engineer.
One piece of advice for a newbie in a similar industry.
You know people say you have to have a lot of passion for what you are doing and it totally truth. The reason is because it can be so hard and discouraging when you are not able to meet your basic financial needs. We go into business so we can make money and live a good life.
Trust me, there is lot of money and fame in the fashion industry but please don’t let the money or fame be your motive or drive. The sincere and pure passion for fashion should be the drive for that mission. So if you don’t love and have passion for what you are doing, you will most definitely give up! And I say that with all manner of confidence because I have been through that tunnel a number of times but love and passion helped me get to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Be opened to feedbacks, stay focused and be patient.
And above, all put God first. Make sure you’ve had a discussion with God on the matter before embarking on the journey, because truth is, the journey never ends. You either pack and leave the lane or park and stop at the level you are.
God first, passion follows and then money and fame will come looking for you.
Contact details and social media handles?
WhatsApp – 0816 717 2727
IG – @Lordpurple_bespoke
Address – 7, Shobayo close, Asore Town, Akute-Ajuwon, Ojodu-Berger.
Related: Why I chose my line of business – Ayodeji Oluleye, CEO, DFortune Pest Solutions Ltd