Uwana Essien: I Strive for Uniqueness in My Designs
“A beautiful outfit is the mark of a distinguished lady.” With these few words, Nigerian-born Uwana Essien introduced the Wanawanadesigns Made in Nigeria outfit with slogan ‘Talior wey no dey Disappoint”. Her vision is to create responsible clothing. “The point is that when we make clothes, we must be able to make them lasting”, Uwana explains.
“The waste produced should not be harmful to the environment. Because, as we all know, the fashion industry is one of the industries that contribute the largest waste to the environment. Furthermore, the fashion industry workers are pushed to work and get paid that is not appropriate with their efforts. Based on that I created this brand, I added my idealistic values, which include producing clothing that is responsible, environmentally friendly, and sustainable as well as providing local tailors with proper pay and benefits”.
The journalist turn fashion-designer stays up to date with fashion trends via readily available means of information. She says “Fashion is always evolving, so I do my research by reading magazines, browsing the internet, attending fashion shows and so on. Studying the history of fashion has greatly helped me to know the ins and outs of fashion.”
Speaking on her future aims, the University of Lagos, Mass Communication graduate said, “In the near term we look towards adding accessories and developing a men’s line of fashion. Down the road we plan to offer a full range collection for both men and women. Our ultimate goal is that Wanawanadesigns becomes a globally recognizable brand, known for helping individuals present themselves in their finest by offering them a unique combination of exclusivity, quality and style.”
On her goals, she said, “My goal for the next five years is for my brand to become more well-known both locally and internationally. Then, become a brand that can encourage others to care about the environment. No matter how small our contribution to the environment is. Furthermore, I make an effort to incorporate elements of Nigerian culture into future collections in order to present Nigeria culture to a wider and international audience.”
Uwana highlights some of the Wanawanadesigns distinguishing details. “There are many details that make up a beautiful outfit. We strongly feel that they are all equally important. This is why we place such high emphasis on finishing. In addition to manufacturing details we strive to be unique in our design. Always focused on offering sophistication with an edge, we strongly feel that there is a fine line between the two. Pushing it too far and you risk becoming tacky, don’t push far enough and you remain boring. We like bright colors.”
Her inspiration is diverse. ”Inspiration comes from everywhere; when small details of daily life merge with past experiences to spark new and exciting emotions. These emotions in turn build upon the foundation of our brand, which is inspired by the Wanawana culture. We focus on using Africa print to make beautiful designs.
“From a design perspective, we are inspired by Nigerian cheerful culture. Seeing images of all these scenes blended together, but with the colors blaring through is what dictates the texture, color and pattern in each fabric we select,” adding that she wears her designs with passion as someone who works in an office, she brightens the day with her fun, colorful funky ankara pieces. “
She continues to explore fashion while gaining experience in the real world working in a corporate setting but vows to make designing a full-time career in the very near future. Uwana, outside fashion, loves helping couples who are struggling with infertility. “So I founded Gen128fertility Foundation. I also love to write and sing.”