Papa Omisore, the Creative mind behind P.O.C. Lagos has been steadily crafting his own language — ever-so-slightly shaking up classic codes by thoughtfully injecting a fresh, young perspective to classic menswear in Nigeria. P.O.C. Lagos pieces are clean and casual, but never short on character. So, it was no surprise that the extraordinary brand presented an outstanding runway showcase at Lagos Fashion Week 2017 with a collection that put menswear away from traditional tonal hues to a ‘Hue Infusion”, it made perfect sense. This is a brand that doesn’t shout, it speaks for itself.
It is impossible to separate Papa Omisore from his designs. Aside from acting as his own fit model, the Nigerian designer is the personification of the message of his eponymous label – inspiring, stylish and fearless. SCHICK speaks to the man behind the brand on rejuvenating his creativity to advice for young designers and everything in between. Enjoy!
When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
“I guess I’ve always known. But it became clearer to me when I started designing pieces for myself, and I knew I was designing what people wanted because I kept getting questions and requests for the outfits I made for myself.”
Who are your biggest fashion influences?
“I’d say Yves Saint Laurent because his designs were so dynamic and timeless, and he embodied all the same values I have. One thing I strive for is longevity, I want P.O.C to stand the test of time, and for people to look at designs from decades past and still think ‘I can wear that today’ – just like they do Yves Saint Laurent.”
What inspired you to start P.O.C?
“I was inspired by the Nigerian fashion industry and the growth I saw over the years. There was suddenly this space for fresh new designs and I knew I had to get in there, because it aligned with my love for creating, for design – it felt like a door had been opened for me.”
What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when you were starting out?
“I mixed up two client orders and had to rectify the situation out of pocket – thankfully they both appreciated that I was able to sort it out ASAP, it could have been worse!”
If P.O.C could have any celebrity spokesperson, who would it be?
“I wouldn’t pick just one person, because there isn’t just one P.O.C man, I’ve had different types of men (and women) wear my pieces, and each of them described it as something different, but I’d say someone who was not afraid to be 100% them, that would definitely be a criteria.”
How has your brand evolved since you first began?
“P.O.C started with just kaftans, and as the demand grew, the brand grew. I saw there was a larger space than I initially thought. This led me to produce more pieces with colour and print, and challenge the various social constraints around colour and what is limited to men. The brand now makes more than kaftans, we are a ‘menswear’ designer in every sense of the word, and we challenge men. We challenge them to explore, discover and try new things.”
Any advice for young, up and coming designers?
“If you’re passionate about something, go ahead and do it. Make sure you’re true to yourself and your brand represents you properly. Don’t settle for anything less than what you want, don’t let people tell you what can and can not work, just be you, be 100% you. Also, things take time, not everybody’s success story happens overnight, so if it does not happen that way for you, be patient and persevere. Know that not everyone is your audience, your audience exists, and they will find you.”
What is the most exciting moment you have had so far in your career?
“My store space at MeiDei.
There has been a rise in fashion retail outlets, but none like what we have done. We created an experience, and I can not talk about this without a huge thank you to Meidei and Urban Dice Designs. This not only tells a story, but it gives us the space to retail in a way that’s true to us, we didn’t want to be just another rack in a store, and that’s exactly what has happened.”
What hobbies do you have that rejuvenate your creativity?
“I love dancing – it’s both therapeutic and a great form of exercise!”
What, do you believe, is the biggest problem in the Nigeria fashion industry that you have had to overcome.
“Production – unfortunately, there is a huge production issue – from the cost of production to the quality. Letting go of the ‘tailors’ and finding ‘factories’ has not been easy, but we did find a company that is meticulous, fast and does not compromise on quality.”
Is there growth in this field? How do things generally look for new fashion designers entering the field?
“There definitely is growth in this field, the Nigerian fashion industry really still is in its infant stages, and growing every day. New designers now have more and more platforms for growth but need to be proactive, really believe in their brand and push. I think something people give up too easily, and for a global billion dollar industry, we’ve only just begun.”