In recent times, the global demand and discussions on African – inspired clothing have led to tremendous boost in sales for some African designers and brands whose works have caught the eyes of international personalities including Beyonce, Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Thandie Newton.
The potential for this billion – dollar market has birthed a new breed of young, fashion entrepreneurs who are doing well in the creation of unique fashion designs for local and global demands.
One of such is Akindele Kennedy, a young fashion designer based in Lagos, known for his unique and sophisticated style signature evolved from elements of global fashion trends. He is the Creative Director of Ken Royale Clothing brand which he officially launched in 2012, he makes blazers, suits, shirts, pants, urban natives and agbada for men. His aim throughout his career has been to uniquely showcase the personality of a confident and elegant Nigerian gentleman.
Kennedy acknowledges that starting a business especially in Nigeria is challenging. But one thing is certain: the astute, passionate and creative entrepreneur is determined to thrive and grow his brand to the No1 destination for Fashion in Nigeria.
In this interview with Pleasures Magazine Publisher, Akindele talks about his company, challenges encountered and his plans for the future.
Could you tell us about yourself; who is Akindele Kennedy?
Akindele Kennedy is the creative director of Ken Royale Clothing. My interest in designing started some years back when I was working as a contract staff with Stanbic IBTC pension Ltd. I started sketching and designing on paper what to wear to office next day due to my little knowledge in tailoring and looking good. Am currently working as the head of creative designing and wardrobe image consultant at Ken Royale.
Let’s talk about Ken Royale Clothing; what is it all about?
Ken Royale is a menswear designer with a proven niche in clean, custom – tailoring, bringing out the man in you in style and fitting.
Ken Royale’s unique and sophisticated style signature evolves from elements of global fashion trends; contemporary tailoring, stylish fabrics and seamless trims, clever details, modern – edge dynamics, quality construction, a tasteful colour palette enmeshed in creativity, with injections of boldness.
Ken Royale designs quality, lifestyle – oriented pieces with a distinctive global flair.
With focus on the smart – casual contemporary market, our dashing urban looks are perfectly suited for evening, weekend and transition wear.
Ken Royale is a gallery with an eclectic range of style and artistry, that meets the fashion needs of dynamic stylish individuals, who possess a cultivated appreciation of ‘Designer Fashion’ and a sense of adventure in their life and dressing.
Our clothes are born out of unique fashion crafts and made perfect for confident men in their prime, who want to stand out from the vast crowd.
Ken Royale is an indigenous fashion company, inspired by the jet set lifestyle. Our approach to design is truly global and our lines appeal to the growing number of fashion-conscious men in cosmopolitan cities around the world.
If you have got pictures of some old suit or any other piece of clothing that you cannot find in stores anymore or wondering where your friend got his cool suit from, just send us a photo and we will tailor it for you
We were awarded the Best Creative Personality in 2015 by Edo Fashion Day and also Best Clothier of the year by Lead Africa in 2017.
What led you into embracing fashion design as a career?
It was during my day at Stanbic IBTC, I designed a bespoke suit for a friend’s wedding and during the wedding, a lot of guests were so amazed with this suit cox and how fitting it was on the celebrant. The MC was forced to ask the guy about the suit so I was called out to be appreciated for making the suit. After, people started calling me to make some more for them. So I decided to quit my contract job and embrace fashion designing as a full career. I just love to look good, make people look good and happy too so they can bring the swagger in them out…..lol
When Exactly IsThe Ken Royale brand?
Ken Royale is a brand perfectly for the GENTLEMEN that wants to make a statement
How have you been able to stay creative when creating your designs?
Am able to stay creative when creating my designs by just getting started and am not afraid to design something bad cox I don’t worry about failure. I try to recreate the work of others that I admire and when the brain is loaded, I take some time to recharge—- read some books, stare blankly at an empty sketchbook page, listen to some music or watch atv show.
How do you get the inspiration for your designs? I mean what inspires your designs?
How do I get inspiration—- inspiration is all around us and I do get mine by asking myself, who am I designing for. I always spend time to think about who I want my clothes to speak to, I think about their age and income vis-a-vis their lifestyle, who they are and where are they would be going in my clothes. I sometime take pictures from magazines and the internet or I snap them from events
How do you feel when you see people rocking your designs?
When I see people rocking my designs (brand)… it gives me a great feeling of accomplishment. I am honored to have played a part in making them look stunning
What feeling do you get when a customer gives you feedback on your designs?
Feedbacks help me to identify issues and solve them which in turn,helps me to improve and grow my business.
What are the challenges you are facing in running a business like this especially in a country like Nigeria?
Challenge… customer trust— clients do believe you are making ridiculous profit compared to the foreign brand. But they forgot that when making good bespoke clothes, a lot go into the process….the cost of production including fabric, tailoring , diesel for generator etc and also, government policies have not been put in place to help the fashion business in Nigeria like the availability of fabrics, good electricity and access to capital for the young start up.
Tell us about your most recent collection
Our new collection is called REPLACEMENT 18, and is strictly for men that want to make a statement.
Do you produce en masse for the market and do you design specifically on orders?
We don’t produce en masse for the market, we only design for those men of HONOR accordingly to order.
What is your assessment of the fashion industry in Nigeria?
Assessment of the fashion biz in Nigeria— fashion in Nigeria is growing because our love for looking good , we are very stylish compared to other Africa countries, we have the highest population in Africa and are the most travelled black people in the world. Every Nigerian man wants to have a statement in his appearance even if he is a low income earner…lol.. Every Nigeria man wants to be resplendent in his dressing.The government needs to do lots more then to improve the industry but not only government; some individuals who are well – to – do should encourage fashion business in Nigeria. We need to understand that nobody wants to go naked. We all need clothes to cover our body. People should understand that when you empower a man, you have blessed a family, you are really a blessing to a nation. Our Nigerian universities should encourage our youth on how to be self-employed than seeking white – collar jobs. This will also reduce the rate of unemployment among our university graduates.
How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Personal fashion style… simplicity and comfort is my fashion key. I go for comfort level because certain garments suit certain body shapes and the sooner you learnt about your body type, and what looks good on you, the better you would look and feel. I mix and match but prefer to keep things classic as it is timeless or give it a more contemporary twist by paying attention to little details, cuts, textures and colors.
When you are not working, how do you love to relax?
How I do relax…. Read a book, socialize and cook a meal for the family.
Who are your role models?
Amancio Ortega, owner of Zara is my role model.
What advice would you give to young people starting out in your field today?
Advice to the young start-up… to be honest, work hard, be spiritual, shouldn’t despise their little beginning and be nice to people.
What advice would you give to the upcoming young and old entrepreneursgenerally?
My advice to the upcoming young guys… is that they should know who will wear what they intend to design, they should be focused, they should not over promise and be open to advice…..my advice to the old entrepreneurs is that they should try and see how they can empower one young chap in the industry in whatever way they can.
How may you be contacted?
People may reach us via.
IG handle: @kenroyale