“My mixed background affected my business a lot…” Nigerian/Austrian Designer Of Fulani Talks Fashion & Culture

Multi talented Austrian born Nigerian designer, Omatu Fulani is one designer that is working her way to break into the Nigerian fashion industry with her designs that cut across both cultures, but really influenced by her proud igbo heritage.
Speaking to her, we realized that she is not just “Omatu from the block” as she would like to call herself, that sounds too simple… she is Omatu trying to take over the block in a fashionable way and we are here for all that! 
L: Who is the multi-talented​ Omatu?
FO: ​Who am I? I am just “Omatu from the block” in Jennifer Lopez voice… “Call the crib same number same hood its all good” in Notorious B.I.G voice. My favorite quote: “Move before you think you’re ready.”
I am a very creative person and therefore sometimes weird. I love to travel and haven’t decided yet where in the world I want to live. Fashion and Music are my passion! I love my life and what I do. I have no patience and I hate waiting. I am a free spirit who loves adventures, plus I am hopelessly romantic. I never give up no matter what. I follow my heat and listen to my guts. Dancing and horseback riding calms me down. I love animals.  Communication is my best friend, I can talk for hours but mostly very shy in public. I’m the sensitive type when it comes to my private life but a tough business woman.
L: Tell us about your education as a child with an African descent…
​FO: When I was a child I had problems getting accepted here in Vienna. I remember kids used to laugh about my hair and didnt want to play with me because of my skin color in elementary school. I think there were only 2 african mixed kids in my entire school and I was one them. Some of them asked me weird questions like “how do you feel being dark like that” And then my name Omatu, they called me either Tomato or Oma. Please note Oma means grandmother in german. Still I refused to use my Austrian name even though it would have been so much easier for me to fit in. But I was stubborn about it and continued to use my Igbo name.
L: Tell us about Fulani fashion brand…
FO: Fulani fashion brand started in 2003 and for me Fulani fashion pieces are sexy and classy. Plain cuts and comfy fits. Always wearable and not complicated. Fabrics well tolerated by the skin and mostly colorful. I do not follow trends unless I like them. I always wear every piece I create
L: How did your mixed background affect your business?
FO: ​My mixed background affected my business a lot, people like to judge me cause of the way I look, in Vienna I am considered as exotic/foreign. Unlike in other countries where my “look” is considered as average cause people are used to mixed race.
Business wise it was harder for me in Vienna, I had no role model when I started. Back then black business owners barely existed in Vienna especially in the fashion industry.
In Nigeria a lot of people see me as a pure white person and hardly believe that I am mixed. Well, don’t let my look fool you … hehe
L: What’s the essence of your designs?
FO: Less is more! Always wearable and comfortable, yet sexy. Very feminine. Style and class. Prints are a must!
L: What’s your creative process like when it comes to developing collections?
FO: ​First I sketch my ideas and also think of a theme and name for the new collection. My pattern maker creates the first prototypes. Meanwhile I am Looking for fabrics, sometimes I fly to Paris (to attend the Premiere vision), some seasons I directly talk to my fabric suppliers and they send me samples. I love thinking of a theme for my collection and get inspired by that.
Every piece will be produced only once with the original fabric, so I can still make last changes. I always shoot my look book first so I can go ahead and send it to stores and boutiques for orders. Meanwhile my pattern maker creates different sizes of each piece.
After that I am concentrating on my campaign shooting, which is the most important process. Those images will be published internationally.
  
L:  How does being based in Vienna affect your fashion  brand, knowing that Nigerians are fashion forward people?
FO: I have great support from both sides.
L:  How easy was it to break into the Nigerian market?
FO: ​I can’t say that I’m fully in the Nigerian market yet, I think I still need some time for that…but so far so good, it has been okay.
L: What is your view on African fashion?
FO: ​In my opinion, african fashion is beyond beautiful! its majestic and glamorous! it has something royal, and makes one look graceful.
L: Would you consider yourself a Nigerian designer because of your race or the kind of outfit you create?
FO: I would consider myself as an Nigerian designer because of my race and I get inspired by Nigerian/african fashion design.
L: What African culture or lifestyle influence your designs?
FO: I am Igbo and I love the traditional attire and culture. African culture and lifestyle in general is always inspirational.
L: Can you tell us the African designers that inspired you as a child and inspires you till date?
FO: When I was a child I didnt know or came across any African designer, unfortunately.
Nowadays I like Tiffany Amber, Maki Oh, and my dear friend Ayo van Elmar
L: What is your favourite part of being a fa​s​hion designer, that’s different from being a musician?
FO: I am married to Fulani and music is my mistress. That doesn’t mean that I love fashion more. Even though it is very creative, Fulani gives me stability, you can say it’s my “ride or die”.  It depends on my mood and on my emotions. I get very emotional when it comes to my music and it inspires my creations alot. I got nothing but endless love for my fashion and music. Both got my time but I still treat them differently.
L: How would you describe your personal style?
​FO: Plain and simple outfits but big shiny jewelry preferred gold.
I love prints and loud colors but simple cuts. I barley wear black, and jeans are one of my favorite pants.
L: How does your mixed heritage affect your designs?
​FO: Both sides influence me and my designs a lot – ​best of both worlds is how I like to name my designs.
Nigerians are very fashionable and love prints and loud colors, I love that too and my designs will always have a touch of that. Growing up in the heart of Europe next to the fashion metropole’s  like France and Paris also inspires my style.
 L: As a multi-talented creative person, how do you determine what aspect of your gifts to focus on per time?
FO: Fashion and music is my passion – both are my favorites. It would break my heart if I would have to decide between them. The difference is fashion has structure even though it is very creative. And I can forcast the season and calculate my income approximately in advance which gives me stability. Music is very emotional and therefore becomes personal. I work with feelings and go with the flow, it’s deep and also very therapeutic.
L:  How do you stay up to date given the fluidity of the Fashion scene?
FO: ​I frequently fly to exhibitions who provide fashion and trend forecasts. My designs will always have a particular style and look no matter what. If I personally don’t like a certain trend which happens to be very hip at the moment I won’t follow that. The beauty of fashion designing is that taste has endless of different facets and thats why there are so many designers and there will always be space for all of us and many more.
L:  What has been some of the high points of your fashion career?
FO: International A-list celebrities actually wore my designs without asking questions, and that was when i was making baby steps, basically at the beginning of my career. It was an amazing feeling to be on the same stage like the well known international fashion labels.
L: Are there any new projects your fans should expect?

FO: #QuietStorm is coming out soon. It is the name of Fulani’s spring/summer collection 2018. It is also a sub-genre of R n B music that is characterized by mellow dynamics, slow tempos and relaxed rhythms.

The #QuietStorm Collection consists of Lavender, lemon-yellow and geometrical prints are dominating this unique collection. Couture gowns are made of chiffon and silk, ready to rock the red carpet. Party and cocktail outfits designed for any occasion and mood. Casual blouses, skirts and pants with a touch of sexy made of viscose, cotton and jersey for your everyday styling.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. So Sorry to hear this. People can be so cruel and stupid. Skin Color means nothing, We are all connected. We each have a pee hole and a crap hole and red blood flowing through us. Not one person is better than another. We are all brother and sisters. Racists are at the top of the stupid scale.

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