Our hearts paced and leaped with excitement when Abuja based fashion label Style Temple by Ogoh Okonkwo (popular with names like Chimamanda Adichie, Ini Edo, Ifeoma Williams, Toke Makinwa and Stephanie Coker just to mention a few), released its debut ready-to-wear collection “Ipseity” pre-fashion week last year.
We knew a star had been born to join the extra ordinary league of a handfull of originals. It didn’t take much time for her to break into the existing competitive market in Lagos after she was approached by high end retail brand Temple Muse to stock her exclusive designs.
After an over impressive, applaud worthy outing for SS17 at the Heineken Lagos Fashion and Design Week in 2016, we reported how a countable number of designs from Style Temple’s “IT GIRL” collection shared glaring references with pieces from Stephane Rolland’s haute couture lineup for Spring 2013 and Johanna Ortiz’s design aesthetic channeled towards reworking the idea of the classic shirt.
Earlier this year, at the social media week, Bellanaija Style hosted fashion stakeholders and insiders to an interactive session that discussed the blurred lines between the controversial hot topic of Creative Inspiration and Creative Coincidence. Amidst the heated argument that brewed from this conversation, Ogoh confidently exempted her brand saying “I don’t copy designers… we create what we put out from scratch”
While it is undeniable that I admire Ogoh’s taste and how she has firmly positioned her brand in a good PR space, mastering the art of putting out good work with understanding how the business operates, I am only wondering without a surprise as to why she would tell us she doesn’t copy other designers.
We have images of her “original designs” existing on tumblr and pinterest — a valid case that begs the question of Future Award’s Yardstick of making its coveted list Fashion Prize.
We will continually say it here that it is very okay to be inspired by the works of others but to copy without brilliantly tweaking brings to question the validity of your values, what you stand for as a designer, and what your brand represent in a whole.
As always we’ve got our eagle out watching.