THE EVOLUTION OF RUSSELL SOLOMON

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

 
Hello again beautiful people, hope you're all doing great today.  

I'm excited to be sharing this gripping and inspirational piece of interview with you guys, here's a fun fact that I don't think Gabriel even knows or realises, but I have known him for many years now, I have kept up with him through being facebook friends for over five years now. I have seen him evolve into a man that's fully aware, aware of himself , his dreams, his level of creativity and aware of what he wants out of life. I have always admired his sense of style and I also always saw that there was obviously something different about him and the way he wore clothes and put them together.

So I wasn't shocked when I found out that he had started styling people and celebrities, I would see photos of him and all these power house, fashion creatives in the Nigerian fashion industry and be like "woah, there he goes again" , I also wasn't surprised when he became a designer and started his own Fashion label, I am super excited to have gotten the opportunity to interview him and have him share his journey so far with me, as we expect all the greatness that is to come from this phenomenal guy. Have a lovely read guys.

 

DVF: Tell me about yourself and your background?

Gabriel: My name is Gabriel Ugochukwu Solomon, the third child out of six children, I was raised by a disciplinarian father, who's also an evangelist and my mom who was a trained nurse/business woman (Now deceased). I'm slightly above my mid twenties, I'm attracted to the very concept of the human existence, the earth, Inspirational books, books on history, on personal development, on romance and on God. Love Tech, Design (Architecture, Fashion & Graphic) , Music. I like a lot of things except garlic (laughs) , I don't like drama, I like me some peace and calm.

I Studied Management Information Systems (B.Sc) at Houdegbe North American University for the better part and also a degree in Computer Science at University of The People, California

DVF: What was your childhood like and what are your fondest childhood memories ? 

 Gabriel: My childhood was quite eventful and fun to an extent, I was my Dad's favourite until our only sister came on board. Not that things changed much though, I was a firm child, stubborn i'd say, and persistent. 

My fondest memories? That would be a lot, but most importantly I had many experiences with my childhood bestfriend John, we did so much together in our early teenage years

DVF: When did you fully as an adult realise what fashion is and the effect is has, as well as what it represents in your life as a person ?

Gabriel:
Fashion has always been a part of me, my dad was a very stylish man in his youthful days, he used take his precious time to dress me and my brothers up in the early 90's , so I grew up being conscious of fashion and style.

 How fashion started for me was when I couldn't help but spend long hours analyzing the pages of fashion publications, It became a priority when I got into the university, while I was in the university I got busy with IAmIsigo, as the creative director's assistant/ model (laughs) . That's where I got my first little exposure into the industry, from that point I decided that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. 

This was back in 2011, from time to time I do a thorough assessment of my person, my decisions and my path through life and I discovered that fashion is all I sleep, eat and wake up to, it got to a point where all I wanted to do was express myself through fashion, and now i'm more of impact oriented

DVF: How would you describe your style and what is your personal defination of fashion?

Gabriel: Eccentric, Edgy and Smart-Casual. Well to me, fashion is a systematic way of expression

DVF: When did you start off officially and what were the baby steps you took towards taking your passion to a professional level?

Gabriel: When, would be when I sent a mail to Bubu Ogisi indicating my interest to work with her in the capacity of an assistant and a model in 2011. I eventually started out as a stylist, my job as a stylist involved me racing to work with renowned International Stylist/Publicist and Consultant Arieta Mujay after Bayo of Orange Culture recommended me to assist for Arise Magazine Fashion Week 2012 as a designer, working closely with a designer friend of mine Jide (Bespoke Suit Designer) .

After which taking up a job proposition by my cousin who owns a menswear brand in Abuja, Kenneth Akuba as design director, to reaching out to Mrs Aisha Achonu of Aisha Abubakr Luxury Design to be her brand strategist and of course style some of her pieces, unknowing to me she offered that I work with her as her Menswear Director, those were my baby steps.

DVF: Those are pretty much grown up steps if you ask me (laughs) , was the plan always to be a fashion designer or did your passion for fashion designing come to be after working so much in the fashion industry ? 

Gabriel: Not originally, but it grew gradually whilst working as a stylist. However, when I finally decided, I didn't just jump right at it, I took a nine to six (9-6) with the hopes of learning the process of running not just a fashion brand but a business

DVF: What was the major thing you did or that happened that built up your confidence and got you to say " You know what ? this really is what i'm meant to do" ?

Gabriel: I wouldn't specifically point out a major event, but I would say constant affirmation from strangers, children, friends and family, even my former employers. That was my first push 

DVF: There's always ups and downs in every aspect of our lives, so what would you describe as the lowest point in your career and what has been and still is a "Pinch me" moment in your career so far ? 

  Gabriel: I would say that i'm still emerging as a designer, taking it from a business point of view, my lowest point as a fashion business owner and being just barely a year old in business. It would be when I took a pause for a couple of months, whilst searching for an investor and not getting the required support from the ones I banked on. 

A "Pinch me" moment as you put it would be, having a clear case of misunderstanding with a dear friend which went on to become a big deal as a result of terrible communication

 DVF: What has been the peak of your career since becoming a designer and since the establishment of The Russel Solomon brand ?

Gabriel: Russell Solomon as a menswear brand just kicked off, we're just about a year in, but it's good to see that it did start on a good note. However, I believe everything we have done so far has been what's been expected. 

ThisDayStyle gave us a surprisingly full page print feature early this year also another high point was getting a random congratulatory message from a renowned British designer Romero Bryan whose pieces have been seen with former first lady Michelle Obama.

DVF: That's so amazing...... when you were creating Russell Solomon, who were the target market audience that you had in mind and who would you describe as the Russell Solomon man ?

Gabriel: First, I'll like to say Russell Solomon defies age restrictions, but our targeted age demography stands between eighteen to forty five (18-45). A Russell Solomon man is a young, vibrant, limitless and fully aware man

DVF: Will the brand continue to only be focused on cartering and designing for men or do you think you would eventually branch out into making women's wear too ?

Gabriel: Always saw this question coming. As much we would like to serve everyone, we'd rather deal with one issue at a time which is being the best at servicing this section, men are way too comfortable, we want to broaden their concept of style, already we've had women indicate interest in our products so we'll definitely explore that section when we're fully ready

DVF: Have there been any major challenges that you have had to face since you became a designer that you literally had no idea designers had to deal with ?

Gabriel: I worked with a fully established upscale fashion business for one year and in 8-7months, I was saddled with not just the responsibility of a menswear director, but the responsibility of ten (10) other departments. So, I'd say I saw the in and outs of a fashion business in that light, and I'm currently dealing with mine

DVF: How has the receptivity level of the brand been like since it's inception?

 Gabriel: The reception was great, in the first twenty four (24) hours of it's launch, we got an anonymous order direct from our website, It was so encouraging, our first official customer was a total stranger. We read online publication comments about the designs and it was amazing. Stores, shows and bloggers across the continent approached us, we were well received by the public

DVF: If you get a complain from a customer or get criticism about your designs or clothing, how do you handle the complain and what do you do with criticism ?

Gabriel: No new startup is perfect, when we do, we first own it and we have the problem fixed. When criticized, we weigh in on it to be sure it's constructive, If it isn't constructive, we already have an understanding that everyone has peculiar tastes

DVF: What's been your family's take on all of this right from the beginning of your career up on till now?

Gabriel: My dad for one wasn't given to the idea, he's always wanted me in corporate Nigeria, probably at SHELL, CHEVRON or ExonnMobil, but I believe he's slowly warming up to the idea. My siblings don't care much what industry you work in as long as you become good at what you do

DVF: Without having the influence of your dad's love for fashion in your childhood and your growing up, do you think you still would have fallen in love with fashion or be the designer you are today ?

Gabriel: Well in the absence of that, I would still have found my way here. I say this because I've always been a curious child, always out for self discovery and was a very passionate child

DVF: It's a known fact that every creative sometimes struggles to stay motivated or get inspired so for you, what kick starts that sometimes diminishing passion to create?

Gabriel:  Yes indeed. For me my environment plays a huge role, also my state of mind, I try to keep everything peaceful even when it really isn't

DVF: When designing what aspect of the design process do you pay the most attention to?

Gabriel: First fluidity, I really don't like restrictions, then pattern cutting and thread lines

DVF: What do you think is the major difference between when you were Gabriel, the stylist versus now that you're Gabriel the designer ?

  Gabriel: (Laughs), there's nothing like Gabriel the stylist versus Gabriel the designer, I'm one with myself, no confusion. Just another level of creative expression

  DVF: (Laughs) noted, what is the most distinguishing factor of the Russell Solomon brand, the one element that makes it stand out from the work of other design labels out there?

Gabriel: I think as the present creative director, my distinguishing factor will be the ME factor. The ME factor is versatile, fluid, strives for perfection, attractive, God and Humanity driven 

DVF: So I've got to ask, why is the brand called "Russell Solomon " and not Gabriel Solomon ?

Gabriel: Yeah (smiles) , I had a nickname as a teenage boy in Yoruba "Adarikpon" which I believe means red-haired, if you google the meaning you'll find the name Russell attached to Red-Haired Man. So I owned it, also the name Russell Solomon carries a strong consonant blend which rolls rhythmically off the tongue and is entrenched in the mind as stylish and sophisticated

DVF: It for sure has a consonant blend and I love how well it rhymes too lol... Tell me about your "Skin Collection" and your Ss17 Campaign, tell me more about the creative concept behind the whole campaign and about the choice of the photographical direction taken to shoot the campaign ? 

Gabriel: The SKIN Collection was basically centered around diversity in creation, God as a creative being, creating without limit. With so much to choose from, the pieces had variety, even with choice of fabrics, design and even our choice models. We had  locally produced Adire infused in some parts. I was born and raised in the west hence the choice of local fabric for SKIN. The collection's lookbook was shot by Romeo Shagba. The campaign was shot in collaboration with Rodney Omoekachie assisted by Sam Makoji, the concept of the campaign was to better explain and explore the collection's direction

DVF: With fashion designing, there's often the issue of some designers leaning towards basically copying another designers ideas or work, justifying it as "inspiration" how do you prevent that from happening and if a customer came to you and wanted an exact replica or similar design with another designers work... how would you handle such a situation ?

Gabriel: Yes, it has been a thing from time immemorial, however, that doesn't make it right and it's not something we should encourage, I try to stay as original as possible, that doesn't mean I'm not inspired by fellow creatives. After Adam came Eve, that's to say sometimes an existing product can inspire the birth of something spectacular. 
About a customer wanting a replica of another designer's product, I believe there are different ways to make one thing. So i'll offer them an alternative way, if they insist i'd rather just ask that they patronize the designer

DVF: What is the mark you are hopeful that the Russell Solomon brand makes in The Nigerian /African Fashion industry? 

Gabriel: That Russell Solomon becomes what you think about first when you think African Fashion, not just as a brand but a business affecting lives and communities

DVF: What should we (the public) be expectant of from the Russell Solomon brand In the near future? 

Gabriel: Expect growth

DVF: And now putting the brand aside, What would you like your legacy to be? 

Gabriel: My ultimate goal has always been to make a lasting impact in this generation, to elevate and build, to change the very concept of a society that serves to enslave and impoverish, and bring about a society of acceptance, wellness and total freedom.

DVF: Thank you so very much for your time and sharing your amazing journey with me.

Gabriel: Thank you too chief.

WATCH THE BEHIND THE SCENES FOOTAGE OF THE SKIN COLLECTION BELOW


A post shared by Russell Solomon (@russellsolomonhq) on

CONNECT WITH GABRIEL ON INSTAGRAM HERE 

 & HERE FOR HIS FACEBOOK

KEEP UP WITH THE RUSSELL SOLOMON'S OFFICIAL INSTAGRAM PAGE HERE

CONTACT THE RUSSELL SOLOMON BRAND VIA MAIL HERE

LIKE THE RUSSELL SOLOMON FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE HERE


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25 comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Very stylish designs and a professional interview. Nice post you've got.

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  3. The guy never allowed anyone be a barrier to his goal not even his family nor environment.

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  4. I really like what you are up to, thanks www.bestgeast.com

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  5. wow bro , you look stylish and loved the way you explained.. got me touched

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  6. What an amazing clothing line and great article. Wow such an amazing style and fashion. Great questions.

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  7. The journey of Gabriel is very commendable.The fashion industry has got a real jewel in him.Keep it up!

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  8. Dem!!! I am lost in these outfits am seeing here they're awesome

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  9. Dem!!! I am lost in these outfits am seeing here they're awesome

    ReplyDelete

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