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Seun Eboigbe

Founder & Lead Designer, Lipstick by Seun

Seun Eboigbe is the founder and lead designer of Nigerian-English brand, Lipstick by Seun. Seun's designs are a fusion of Nigerian and English designs and styles, creating a multidimensional contemporary feel. ​

 

We were eager to talk to Seun about her background, designs, the processes behind her work, and Lipstick by Seun's newest collection 'Apẹrẹ'. Here's what she had to say...

Solstice: Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? Were you artistic as a child?

Seun: I grew up in a vibrant, culturally rich city of Lagos, in Nigeria, surrounded by diverse influences shaping my artistic journey. As a child, I was constantly fascinated by dolls; Barbie dolls, and their fashion. My dad bought dolls for me and my sisters and when I learned that I could sew up something on the dolls with a needle and thread, that was the beginning for me. I spent hours putting together pieces to try on the dolls. 


My love for fashion was nurtured by my mother, who had impeccable taste in exquisite garments for special occasions. Watching her dress, I learned the art of self-expression. I also remember her letting me and my sisters be little models on the stage of a fashion show and ever since, I started picturing being in the "glamorous"fashion industry. As I grew older, my passion for fashion only intensified. I pursued formal training in design, honing my skills and knowledge to become the designer I am today.

Solstice: You spend your time between England and Nigeria, how do the two differ in terms of how the fashion industry is those countries and how does culture affect both it and you?

Seun: As someone who has experienced fashion in both countries, I have a unique perspective on the fashion industry.
 

 I'd say, the fashion industry in England is highly established and more structured with a strong focus on luxury, avant-garde, and sustainable fashion with renowned Platforms such as The London Fashion Week, for designers to showcase their work. There's a rich history of fashion innovation, and I always love the mix of streetwear which is more open to complete self-expression. 

The fashion industry in Nigeria is rapidly growing. We have fantastic designers but sometimes designs are not as expressive and opportunities are limited.  The platforms to showcase like the Lagos Fashion Week, are also gaining momentum, showcasing the best of African fashion. The industry is more flexible, with designers often blurring the lines between fashion designing and tailoring. Although more designers have started to create more than just African-inspired clothing now. 

 

As a designer who got my foundational training in fashion in London but lived in Lagos Nigeria, I find that my designs are influenced by the boldness and vibrancy of Nigerian culture and also the innovative spirit and attention to detail of English fashion. 

I'm proud to be part of the growing movement of African designers making their mark on the international fashion landscape.

Solstice: How did you get into fashion design? How/where did you learn the art and business sides of fashion design?

Seun: Right from my teenage years, I remember being the one everyone came to to sketch out designs for their tailors to sew for the next party. While I was in the university (Covenant University), there was a compulsory course we took that made us start to engage our entrepreneurial minds early. The course made me start to think of how to turn a passion into business. And once the opportunity to design some clothes for our final year dinner came, I took it up in business. When I saw I could employ a tailor who could turn my designs into reality. That was it for me. Immediately after school, I enrolled in garment construction classes to start to learn about cutting and tailoring on my own. After that, I went for training at the London College of Fashion because I wanted to learn beyond just cutting and sewing but to understand international standards for fashion processes and not just locally.

I later came back to Nigeria where I got hands-on experience in the real world of fashion. I interned at MAUFECHI fashion house where I started to understand the business side of fashion. All this I did before I dared to open my own business.

Solstice: Your most recent collection is the Apere S/S ’24 collection. What is the meaning behind the collection name, and how did you get the inspiration for it?

Seun: Our most recent collection Apẹrẹ simply means "Shapes" in Yoruba (a language from the southwestern parts of Nigeria). 
Funny story, I was going through my daughter's homework with her and then I came across shapes in her book. I unconsciously started sketching the different shapes on a piece of paper and when I looked at it, I thought to myself how they kinda resembled real shapes of women and the sketches scattered altogether on paper actually looked really cool and might look great on fabric. Prior to that, I had been researching on the British army uniform from the 30s and trying to reinvent designs inspired by them. 
After deciding on the fabric design, We decided to simplify the designs since the fabrics were already bold. So we reinvented details from the uniform like the baggy pockets, and colours of green and tan, and mixed the ideas with the vibrancy of Lagos. It all came together nicely I would say.

Solstice: Describe the process from concept to final realised collection? What was your favourite part of the process?

Seun: The process started from researching as I mentioned earlier. I have been researching a lot on historical fashion and comparing it to modern fashion. That's how I came about the British Army workwear. My research involved a lot of trend forecasting and following up on the fashion colour trend report by Pantone. Next was, creating a mood board and colour swatches, where all the ideas came together, and then sketching started and on to deciding on colours. This was the most fun part for me (the research and design part). Next, the production of the fabrics was the most time-consuming and cost-intensive. We had to dye cotton fabrics to sample and achieve the intended colours and ombré effect on the fabrics; before the designs were imprinted on them using the tie dye method. This was the least "glamorous" step. There were errors and we had to re-produce them to correct to our satisfaction. The next step was tailoring/production. and sourcing for accompanying embellishment features. During production sampling, Sometimes, what we envision does not pan out and this is the stage where we had to tweak here and there from initial design or totally discard some of the initial ideas. After the final product had been achieved and approved, it was time for photo shoots and marketing. Overall, the process though very tedious, was all worth it in the end.

Solstice: What kind of fabrics are used in this collection? Which is your favourite to work with and why?

Seun: For this collection, ethical and slow methods for fashion were practiced. We created and used a lot of Adire fabrics, Popularly known as tie and dye. Adire means tie and dye. And the canvas fabric we used was pure cotton and then, the designs were made onto the fabric with wax resist methods to create patterns and tints on the fabrics. We also incorporated Asooke which are hand woven fabrics ; and Mikado with its rich and stable texture. All the fabrics have their unique highlights and so I find each of them to be interesting but I really love working with the adire cause it is easy to work with and versatile. I also love mikado cause of its lustrous texture, subtle shine and how it can create structured features and also drape.

Solstice: What is your favourite design from this collection? Why?

Seun: I love all the pieces in the collection of course but my favourite are the loose gowns which we call boubou (bubu). The bubus are not just your regular bubus. They stand out with the ombré /coloured fringes and also, the cargo pocket detailing and exclusively produced fabric. The flowing long fringes that sways as one walks in it, creates a stunning and elegant appearance. I also love the 2pc crop top and long overflowing skirt. All the pieces can easily be styled up or down. 

10) This is very much a fusion of African and English culture, can you see yourself drawing inspiration from other cultures and creating more fusions?

Definitely!! The Lipstick by Seun brand draws inspiration from many cultures around the world and I look forward to many more exciting fusions. I have been looking up the Japanese culture and their traditional attires and also recently fell in love with fabric called Kente, a Ghanaian hand woven fabric similar but different to the Nigerian Asooke. Already considering a fusion of these 2 cultures. So, for me, fusions are here to stay at Lipstick by Seun.

Solstice: When was the brand launched, and what is the main style/identity of the brand?

Seun: Lipstick by Seun started the practice more than 10 years ago.

And been privileged to work with big brands like Chika Ike, The late Kefee, some magazines, and many amazing people all over the world. I take volunteering seriously. I have volunteered to work on some fashion projects, events and shows to help with the planning, marketing, and preparations for these events. Like "The Business side of fashion", a formerly popular fashion event where renowned designers met with upcoming designers to discuss the fashion industry, common challenges, give words of encouragement and also network within ourselves. I volunteered 2-3 years in a row, of the line up of these events.  I also volunteered at The Lagos International Style Week, a fashion show that took place to showcase talent, many years back.
 

I also believe largely on collaborations and love to work with stylists, models, makeup artistes, photographers , other brands and that is why whenever a creative asks us to send over our pieces for a possible shoot or collaboration , we are happy to. 

Overall, Lipstick by Seun's style and identity is a fusion I would describe as Vibrant, contemporary, and Afro-chic. For our Latest collection, we decided to embrace the idea of sustainability through ethical and slow fashion practices. 
We aren't completely there yet, but we hope to transition
into a completely sustainable fashion brand soon.

Solstice: Which designers do you look up to/have influenced your work? Is there anything else that has a major influence on your work?

Seun:​ I have an interesting mix of designers which I love and always get inspired by. I have always admired Diane Von Furstenburg and the way she explains fashion. I loved her show "House of DVF" where she always dropped important fashion business nuggets to think about that always kept me motivated. 


Zuhair Murad, I never missed his seasonal releases. He's super amazing.
And I was always super inspired by Karen Millen. She was a huge inspiration in terms of design, to me. It's sad what happened to her business but I remember always being curious about some of her designs back then and even tried redesigning some of hers. 


I was super curious about the chain of distribution of "Zara". I always visited their stores in the UK. And even researched them over and over again. As this is what I envision my brand to be someday. It is interesting to discover how they began and grew into the brand that they are now. I was also always fascinated by the designs of Georges Chakra and Elie Saab.


Taking cues and getting inspired by brands such as Zara, I have started communicating with some China manufacturers on the possibility of manufacturing for a possibility of expansion, for my brand as well.
I have had the rare opportunity to be mentored by the amazing Maufechi who was my real-time mentor when I started. And now, I have an incredible mentor, Tina Ugo of Didi's Creations. I have been so blessed to have them impact and support my fashion business journey. They, as well as a few others, have greatly supported and influenced the direction of my fashion business and I do not take them for granted.

Solstice: What are your plans for your next collection?

Seun: As a fashion designer, I'm constantly inspired by the world around me, and my next collection will reflect that. Here's a sneak peek into my train of thoughts for the next collection; 

 Inspiration: Vibrant colours and the joy of self-expression. This time I do not want something so obviously African made. But I definitely always want an African influence on our pieces, that would come in the form of accessories or the fabric itself. We'll see as the ideas evolve. I usually like to combine ideas with historical inspiration. Obviously, our thought processes keep changing as designers but at the moment, I'm thinking fabrics such as linen, silk and other sustainable materials such as exclusively designed brocades on soft adire. Also, considering the use of kenté, a Ghanaian hand woven type of fabric I spoke about before. The Colour Palette would be more Vibrant this time. Hues of pinks, aqua/ sky blue, yellow, and purple, mixed with earthy tones. Silhouettes would be Flowing, fluid designs. As you can imagine, my thoughts are still all over the place but I cannot wait to reveal the final pieces as I promise to surprise you. This collection will be a celebration of life, colour, and individuality. Stay tuned on our social media spaces for more updates, and get ready to stunned.

Solstice: How do you see your brand growing and evolving in the future? What are your aspirations for the brand in the next 5 years?

Seun:​ The Lipstick by Seun brand has gone through many phases and is still standing. The business side of fashion isn't as glamorous like they say. It is a very competitive space. The business had a fall during the pandemic year and we had to re-strategize and we came back stronger. We take it that everything happens for a reason and for us, It was the perfect time to transition from party wear/couture designing and custom made tailoring , to focus on ready to wear and made-to-fit, which has always been the primary vision for the brand. Our vision has always been to make our pieces readily available or accessible for women all over the world which we are starting to accomplish now. Party wears/couture tailoring was good but it is specific to each customer. Now, with our ranges of ready to wear and made-to-fit options, we can spread our wings to a much wider reach of women via so many mediums. For example, we sell via an international medium already, Anka marketplace and also via our website; we are also signing up on Shopify, Etsy and other online platforms soon. But it's one step at a time. We are already talking to a number of independent boutiques in the UK, Canada and US on possibilities of stocking our pieces and so far, we have gotten some positive responses. In the next 5 years, as a fashion brand, I envision growing globally and evolving by having our apparels, readily available to order and accessible to women in all parts of the world. We plan to do this by expanding our online presence, showcasing in more prominent fashion and trade shows , through collaborations with international social media influencers, other creatives and brands. Also by increasing our chain of stockists for widespread distribution and eventually having our own flagship stores in key cities. 

 

The goal is to create a loved international fashion brand that celebrates diversity, culture, and creativity while making a positive impact on the industry and communities.

Lipstick by Seun 

Website: Www.lipstickbyseun.com 
Instagram: @lipstickbyseun

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