What do Jidenna, Joke Silva, Uti Nwachukwu, Alex Ekubo, Gbenro Ajibade, Ebuka Uchendu have in common apart from being celebrities?
They are styled by the same fashion designer and he’s damned good at what he does.
Remember the famous agbada Ebuka wore to power couple Banky W and Etomi Adesua’s wedding in 2017 which broke the internet? Yes, that same one. It, and many more head-turning other designs, is the signature of Ugo Monye, bespoke celebrity tailor to the stars.
Born to a businessman father and a tailor mom, Ugo decided to walk in the path of his father to study for a degree in Business Administration against the wishes of his parents who would rather he studied fine and applied arts.
A good dresser himself, right from his secondary school days, he made himself a self-appointed Fashion Police who criticized what other s wore while in the university. He drew sketches of what he felt should be the ideal wear for each individual and mentally designed clothes because “it came easily to me”.
He borrowed his mum’s sewing machines, hired a tailor in his house, took orders from school and delivered. Voila, Ugo Monye was born!
In the beginning…
After humble beginnings with his mother’s sewing machine, the business started growing as a unisex brand with a bent for female clients because, according to Monye, designing for women allowed his creative juice to flow more.
However, the budding businessman realized how tough it was dealing with women even though they paid well. His male clientele, on the other hand, were more amenable and he could afford to be more innovative with the menswear line as he was making more income in a shorter time.
So, like all good entrepreneurs, he decided to focus more on the menswear although he never rejected the female clients who sought his services.
In over 10 years of existence as a business, Ugo Monye is renowned for his standout classy and elegant fashion designs which are highly regarded for their bold, unique and cutting-edge styles propelled by the African culture yet executed with contemporary panache.
He designed the Reale Collection, a three-piece robe collection inspired by the Agbada – a Nigerian traditional attire and Monye claims Reale – Italian word for Royal – encapsulates the essence of the collection.
The collection features ‘agbada’ styled kimono look layered over matching set with intricate detailing/stitching and embellished clasp/bold closure to keep the look in place. The piece look like one to save men the hassles that come with layering/adjusting the look at intervals while making it more appealing, modern, minimalist and clean.
“The REALE is a fusion of silk, cotton and wool fabrics. It’s for the bold, ambitious and strong man who is all about tradition yet desires comfort and style. A lot of men find it difficult to wear and handle the Agbada due to its bulky nature but the REALE introduces the open robe concept which is simple to wear yet stylish,” the company revealed about the collection.
The Power of Social Media…
Ugo credits the influence of social media in enabling him reach out to old and new clients and to expand the frontiers of his business while also getting valuable feedbacks from customers.
The designer admitted that he’d never met Ebuka Uchendu before he sewed the agbada for the thespian. They interacted on social media and the transaction was sealed for the agbada which was to seal his stratospheric rise to fame.
He got invaluable mileage when the beautiful outfit was posted online by Ebuka. Ugo saw his Instagram fanbase shoot through the roof from a mere four thousand followers to almost 57 thousand within one week!
Ugo is very active on Instagram where he shares his latest designs with the handle @ugomonye.official and his personal handle is @ugomonye
“Social media has given us a platform to work with, whether customers, fashion companies and so on, any country I get to people already know who I am and this helps our brand,” he told the BBC.
For Monye, the main challenge is how to break into mainstream international market by Africa-based designers but he sees that it’s just a matter of when, not if, African designs will corner its share of the global fashion market.
”Overseas, the foreigners are beginning to appreciate African designs but the main issue now is a lack of funds for local companies to access the international market before new start turning a profit.”
Eyes on the future…
On his future plans, Ugo Monye is committed to capturing global attention with his brand and believes distance should not be a barrier in his quest to create a global reputation for his unique clothing.
“We don’t want distance to be a barrier for people that want to wear our clothing. Currently, we are making clothes for many people all over the world and we are actually making moves in launching a global presence,” he said.
Ugo Monye is married, likes white as his favorite colour, watches and rings for accessories and is a big fan of Nigerian artiste, Davido’s music while Eddie Murphy’s classic 1988 romantic comedy Coming to America as his favourite movie.
Ugo Monye was recognized by Vanguard Allure Women and Fashion Awards as the Wedding Designer of the year 2017. He’s also been published by celebrity fashion website Bellanaija.