An African designer conquers the West
A self-proclaimed “slave to fashion," the young, up-and-coming Nigerian designer Tsemaye Binitie always knew he would make clothes. As a child of stylish parents, he’d watch them get dressed to go out, and soon became their own little wardrobe consultant. Once he saw the glamazons of the '80s stomp down Versace’s catwalk, his fashion future was sealed.
After he finished his education in London, he snagged a position working for famous Brit designer Stella McCartney, but soon after decided to strike out on his own, launching his eponymous line in 2009, where he relishes perfecting the craft of making clothes, “The pieces are intelligently designed, so on the outside it comes across effortless, hiding the thoroughly complicated construction technique,” says the designer.
We caught up with him during busy Fashion Week to see what else he had to say!
ESSENCE.COM: You recently went to Nigeria to showcase your clothes at Arise Magazine Fashion Week. Now you are showing your collection in the tents at their New York Fashion Week show. How does it feel?
Tsemaye Binitie: its been a whirlwind! I am so excited and thankful to Arise for seeing the potential in me.
ESSENCE.com: You were born in Nigeria and have chosen to design clothes for women. How does your culture inform the way you design clothes?
Tsemaye: I was born in Nigeria but raised internationally, I am a juxtaposed reality of a modern Nigerian. Fashion is fashion no matter where you live or are from. Women just want to be beautiful and I want to make them feel that in my clothes.
ESSENCE.com: What struggles have you encountered as a young, up-and-coming designer?
Tsemaye: As a young label there are always going to be struggles, funding, recognition, building the brand. I have been blessed, all the money we make goes back into building the business. I have a great support system; my sister who is my muse and business partner, and the rest of my family have been amazing!
ESSENCE.com: What is the number one quality that you want a woman to exhibit when she puts on your clothing?
Tsemaye: My girl is a modern icon of strength, beauty and glamour!