MUDI: A TALE OF ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS
Clement Mudiaga Enajemo creative director of Mudi, the renowned fashion house that has stood the test of time and quality, is one affable exceptional man, whose mantra of passion, drive and discipline, has helped him record tremendous achievements. Home to celebrities, politicians, CEOs and style lovers worldwide, Mudi whose headquarter is situated in Anthony village, is as unexpected as the office building, which is a testament to clement Muiada’s artistic temperament. His story, told to MILLICENT IMADE AREBUN and ESTHER PUSHE EGBE in this exclusive, is one that will inspire and cause, the budding fashion inclined individual out there, to aspire to greatness and excellence.
My name is Clement Mudiaga Enajemo also known as Mudi. Mudi started in 1992, making us twenty one year old. Twenty one years of passion and dedication to the job. I tell people that once anyone is focused, driven, passionate and disciplined, anything is possible. I am an uhrobo man from Delta state Nigeria, anything we do, we add style to it. It is beyond just making money but adding value and style to what you do. It is not a coincidence that RMD is an Uhrobo man, he has added style and value to acting, neither is it a coincidence that Chris Okotie is an Uhrobo man, he has added style to preaching. Obaro Ibru, Eunice Efole, Efemena Tommy are all from Uhrobo. With all sense of humility, we don’t force it, it comes naturally.
No! I am an artist. I designed this house and office, both the concept and interiors. So am an artist, my cloths just reflect the artist in me. Fashion is just an extension/outlet of my creativity.
I don't have what you call formal training. Like I said am an artist. My journey in fashion all began when I left delta to Lagos for greener pastures. I worked for about one year, then was laid off, because of the economic issues facing the country during Structural Adjustment Program era. My colleagues always sought my opinion, whenever they needed to buy cloths or look good, because they always saw me sketching in my spare time and noticed my flair for fashion. I started earning peanuts based on goodwill from them, until a friend suggested I make a profession of it, since I had such flair and passion for it. I considered the idea, met with an established tailor I knew then and learnt the craft at his kneel. The rest they say is history.
My inspiration is the passion, drive and determination I have got towards my job. My designs are inspired by everything I see and I listen to only pure African music when I create.
How did you cope and keep your edge over the years with the ever-changing trends?
My cloths and design are timeless pieces. My designs are always in vogue. It is always trendy, that’s my secret. I don’t create designs inspired by any present trend. Being innovative and disciplined have also helped me withstand the test of time.
Challenges/Tempted to Quit/Copycat syndrome
Power supply is the greatest challenge facing any business in Nigeria. The electricity situation is very challenging. Also human management is another major challenge. It is difficult to get someone else to see exactly what you see. The ability to get others to understand what you want done and carry out the vision, is sometimes difficult . Most times you have to personally struggle, to put the structure right, but over time, they grow with you and you learn from your previous experience to put things right.
No, I had very low moments sometimes. For instance, once, I delivered cloths to some clients and they typically didn't pay me. I came back home, lamenting to a friend on the situation and he said to me “which year will you ever buy car with this work” at that particular moment, the words depressed me but like I said earlier, once you are passionate about something, you never quit and you will always triumph.
Anything that is good, is bound to be copied. There was a time, I used John Fashanu as my design model, for adverts and press purpose. Almost immediately, there were copies of the design he wore in the photograph everywhere. People make a mockery of the fashion industry at times. Even most of the people, that call themselves fashion designers are not designers. Being innovative and creative is what keeps you ahead.
Stance on the fast-rising global recognition of Nigerian designers in the Diaspora?
It’s definitely very good and it’s about time. They are recognizing us because we are great at what we do.
What then, is your take on the outcry of fashion lovers both home and aboard, of the poor product finishing/detail consciousness of our acclaimed designers?
It is sad to say, but sometimes in Nigeria, we celebrate mediocrity. Those who make so much noise, is who we pay attention to and sometimes, they know nothing about the job. If anyone wants to buy premium clothing in Nigeria now, we would firstly refer him to a popular name, despite the fact that the individual, may not be making good cloths. A white Diplomat came to me once and after our business was concluded, he was impressed and bemoaned the fact that, he has been previously buying substandard products, but was referred with high praises to the individual.
How do we combat this menace?
With due respect, it begins with you, the journalist. Stop hyping those who can afford to run a media campaign. If we hype and celebrate hard work and quality, we can help abate the problem . Some of these fashion designers, get carried away by the glamour and loose the substance. They are happy that they are called fashion designers, they re on the runway and magazines, but forget about the work .
I used to design for women , I stopped four years ago because the pressure and distraction was getting too much.
It is actually easy for me to manage both my local/international offices and affairs Everything is made here and then sent to all the store outside Nigeria. I have shops in Ghana, Kenya, Johannesburg South Africa, etc, but everything is made in Nigeria
I choose to locate my headquarters in Anthony because Anthony Village has been good to me. My very first shop was in Anthony and it is center to the state. I have clients from all over Nigeria and beyond coming in for measurements and this venue guarantees less time wasted in traffic and other road challenges.
Are your cloths affordability, targeted at the elite or average Nigerian?
I don discriminate! Some people say my cloths are expensive but I tell them, good things don’t come easy. One only has to consider, the concept, quality and finishing, that is my clothing trademark . My cloths are not expensive but they are not cheap.