“Working with Nigerian tailors has given me the opportunity to combine the style and insights of the diaspora with the Nigerian market.”
Osborne Ojarimoni – Founder and Designer of Erenti
The third and final instalment of the African luxury series comes from British- Nigerian Osborne Ojarimoni and his luxury menswear brand Erenti (Ee-ren-ti). Born and raised in South London, Osborne moved to Lagos, Nigeria for 2 years from the age of 14 where his interest in African fashion and luxury style first emerged, “When I was in Nigeria I observed that those who were genuinely wealthy wore simple luxury – things that were not too ‘loud’, such as the likes of business tycoons Femi Otedola and Aliko Dangote who always are always in native wear but are some of the richest men in Africa – whereas those who weren’t and/or pretended to be would. I wanted to capture this concept in my own brand: confidence in simple luxury, wearing luxury but not allowing it to wear you. This is where our motto ‘confidence is silent’ comes from.”
Osborne is the Founder and Designer of the Erenti brand but still works as a Project Manager based in London, managing multi-million-pound projects in his full-time role, “I studied advertising and marketing but always saw myself in a leadership role and as an entrepreneur – starting something and taking it forward. That’s how I’ve found myself launching Erenti.”
As well as his entrepreneurial desires, Osborne’s frustrations with local tailors lead him to create his own bespoke pieces, “As a Nigerian, I go to weddings all the time. It got to a point where I was spending so much money on material that I would probably never wear again! It’s very expensive buying material here and getting it made by a tailor and often times it isn’t even to your taste. One day a tailor really messed me up and I thought to myself you know what I have an eye for this – I know what men want so, why not try and do this myself?” This is a sentiment that seemed to resonate with a lot of men in his community and one that Osborne decided to take advantage of. “I launched my first couple of pieces some that did not end up making the cut but I kept on creating. From the middle of last year, I started to get a lot of attention and positive feedback from some of our first customers and the rest is history.”
Osborne Ojarimoni in Erenti
From London to Lagos
Taking inspiration from prominent Nigerian figures like Fela Kuti and Wizkid as well as luxury and contemporary high street stores like Zara, Osborne says “the brand is a fusion of my culture and my environment”. Osborne heads the design here in London whilst the pieces are tailored in Nigeria, “I have a partner in Nigeria who handles the logistics there and oversees the tailors who make our pieces using quality stretch material .” The materials are sourced from Nigeria but also parts of Asia and Dubai depending on the customer need and taste.
Many opportunities have emerged from this London/ Lagos partnership, “Working within the Lagos market, we are able to source unique prints and fabrics that we couldn’t get in London and even if we could it would be at a much higher cost.” Osborne also notes the quality of tailoring and craftsmanship of his Nigerian tailors, “We’ve never had negative feedback from a customer in terms of sizing and quality despite offering a bespoke service – each piece is sewn with passion and precision.”
“Working in this market has also given me the opportunity to network – getting to know people in the fashion industry in Lagos and having the opportunity to gain recognition for my designs, as well as the opportunity to combine the style and insights of the diaspora with the Nigerian market.” This, Osborne says is a platform he hopes will allow Erenti to break into the Nigerian Market as well as the UK.
Operating an international team has its challenges though and Osborne notes miscommunication as one challenge when dealing with his team, “You can get a bit of miscommunication especially when it comes to differences in styles and tastes. As British Diaspora, we have different tastes to those back home so there have been times where my team will suggest or push for a fabric or design that does not fit the taste of the market here.”
What is luxury? Erenti is a luxury brand that exudes craftsmanship, quality and uniqueness – factors that Osborne believes defines a luxury brand, “As I mentioned the team of tailors we use are highly skilled and hardworking meaning things get done efficiently and to a high standard. They have invested in their machines and their craft for many years. It is something that’s simply embedded into our culture.” Even with the high quality and the bespoke nature of the collection, pieces are still completed with a quick turnover at 14 days from the date of order to receipt. “The Erenti brand is unique as I personally design each item and believe its uniqueness lies in its simplicity. We also conduct personal consultations and fittings so it’s not just a brand but an experience with a personal touch.” This encapsulates luxury without losing the traditional tailoring experience of the Nigerian culture.
Breaking the mould
When it comes to breaking into the luxury market Osborne believes that African designers should observe the market and not be limited to one type of African image, “the likes of Ankara are great symbols of our culture but we do not need to limit ourselves when it comes to fashion especially on the global stage. And honestly, its use in many designs and brands have become quite lazy. I think we need to observe the market and look to see what other luxury brands are doing. When I came up with the first set of Erenti designs I would observe the likes of Ozwald Boateng, TM Lewin and Charles Tyrwhitt to take in their concepts and how they are made. For example, my shirts are made with double cuffs and if you look across the industry this is a standard. If I have a double cuff my customer is going to need cufflinks to wear them and that already crosses the line into luxury – it’s important to observe, learn and then make it your own whatever that looks like”.
Plans for the future
At this very early stage of his brand and business, Osborne’s short-term goal for Erenti is to gain more visibility and reach a greater audience “My aim is to get more exposure, networks and build our brand image – basically letting people know that Erenti is here. We want to establish ourselves as the go-to luxury occasionwear brand for men. My main focus is to disrupt the luxury menswear market.“
Erenti will be showcasing its collection on runways in July (Africa Fashion Week Lagos) and August (Africa Fashion Week London), through this Osborne hopes “it will give the brand the exposure it needs to propel further and solidify our place in the luxury market.“
Osborne has ambitions to build a factory as well as physical stores/ outlets in Lagos and other major African cities and “ultimately be the go-to brand for African luxury fashion for all, but particularly for the young African diaspora“
It’s certainly exciting to see such a young and dynamic brand breaking into the luxury market with a fusion of culture and class! What are your thoughts? Comment below x
Instagram: @erenti [DM for orders + enquiries]
Website: [Coming soon]