July 21, 2021

Designing For Life to Get Past the Hate in Nigeria

The Newsletter 05

There are designers all over the world making their mark in the industry.

There are designers all over the world making their mark in the industry. Some are naturally good at what they do, and then there are some who are just remarkable. I had the opportunity to know a very talented Nigerian designer by the name of King Idowu

His company Stitch My Style is fast becoming a social media name. He is not shy about announcing that he is gay, but he has had some women who wanted to change the game. However, he is focused mainly on his designs and the hope of coming to America (no pun intended).

So, sit back and get to know this young, talented designer and see what his life is like in Nigeria.

I will try to add as many of his designs as we can post to this story. If you are interested, just hit me up and I will see how we can get them shipped to you.

Hello, and it is a pleasure to have you for this International interview. So, how are you today? 

King: The pleasure is all mine and I am doing great today, even though the weather is hot a little (lol).

Now, did I correctly write your name above?

King:  Yes, sir, you did. King Idowu.

Tell me where you were born?

King: I was born in the city of Lagos. A place called OkoKomaiko, on the mainland where people don’t give up. 

Exciting. You are open about your lifestyle, but do the women still hit on you?

King: Haha! Being open? Not totally open because homosexuality is a punishable offense in Nigeria and you can get up to 14 years in prison, and for sure. Women are beautiful creatures and we can’t do without them. It shouldn’t be necessarily sexual.

I love your designs;  do you sell a lot of them?

King: Yes, sir. And thank you. Most of my designs are bespoke, well-tailored, and made on request. However, we are not limited to that. You can also get a ready-to-wear outfit.

Where do you get your fabric?

King: I can get my fabrics anywhere, regarding its good quality and following the inspiration behind whatever style I want to create out of it at the moment. However, I get my fabrics locally and internationally. I mainly get African fabrics from Nigeria and sometimes Ghana, depending on my client’s personal style and taste.

Is fabric cheap in your country?

King: Regarding my country Nigeria where the economy is bad, the price of things skyrocket almost every day. So, the price of fabrics do change. But I’ll say this, we have good fabrics that are affordable.

Have you been to the USA?

King: No, sir. Hopefully, before the end of the year. 

Have you ever done any shows to showcase your work?

King: Yes, sir. I once did like a street show a few years ago that afforded me the opportunity to have a few of my clothes marketed and purchased.

How old are you? 

King: I’ll be 28 on the 10th of January.

Did you attend college for design?

King: No, sir. I was an apprentice for a local tailor after my college. However, I’d love to do a professional course in styling soon. 

What else do you do in your country?

King: In my country, I am an entertainment enthusiast. I do charity work, as I love humanity. I model and also do stage plays. Let’s say aside from the love for entertainment and humanity, I’m a serial entrepreneur, as I’d love to get into farming sooner or later.

Ok, I know we discussed you being gay, but it is a shame how Nigeria condemns it? 

King: In as much as I’m not totally open because of my environment, but there are thousands of prominent people who are gay, as being gay is not a barrier. Let’s say we are just hypocrites and judgmental here. If I’m not mistaken:

On January 7, 2014, Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill (SSMPA) into law. The notional purpose of the SSMPA is to prohibit marriage between persons of the same sex. In reality, its scope is much wider. The law forbids any cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners and bans any “public show of same sex amorous relationship.”

How do you stay focused knowing you can’t truly be who you are?

King: As a Nigerian, automatically, you are built to endure pain. You are built to be suffering and smiling. We are hopeful, despite the sufferings. We are strong. We are optimistic. I’ve always received many threats. There was a time my house was ramshacked, and I was beaten just because I’m gay.

All these affect a person’s mental health and causes stigma. So what I do is, I go a great length to conceal my sexual orientation and try not to be around those that are homophobic because my life is not safe around them as we speak.

Tell me about Nigeria. If I were to come there, where do you recommend as a tourist attraction?

King: First, I must say words are not just enough to describe Nigeria, my country. 

Nigeria is an African country on the Gulf of Guinea, and it has many natural landmarks and wildlife reserves. Protected areas, such as Cross River National Park and Yankari National Park have waterfalls, dense rainforests, savannas, and rare primate habitats.

One of the most recognizable sites is Zuma Rock, a 725m-tall monolith outside the capital of Abuja that’s pictured on the national currency. 

Nigeria has great people, a lot of tourist centres like Olumo Rock, Ogun State, Yankari Game Reserve, Bauchi State, Lekki Conservation Centre, Lagos State, Zuma Rock, Agbokim Waterfall, Cross-River State, Aso Rock, Abuja, Agodi Gardens, Oyo State, Kajuru Castle, Kaduna State – to mention a few.

Nigeria, my country, is free from natural disasters and is a great place to live. In summary, Nigeria is a good place for the rich but a bad place for the poor. (LOL)

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to seeing a huge fashion show with your designs in St. Louis soon.

King: Yes. You are welcome, and thank you, too, for having me. I can’t wait for St. Louis to accept me.

Follow King on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

@DREALCLASSICMAN

No one no matter who they are, they should be able to live their life to the fullest. It is a shame you have to be afraid of whom you chose to love.

More reading:

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-50869022

Photos By King Idowu

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