Nikki Khiran is a fashion label that has stood the test of time and the beautiful lady behind it is Nikki Khiran Odu. Nikki Khiran is a graduate of The London College of Fashion, where she majored in Fashion Design Technology, Nikki Odu Khiran came back to Nigeria and launched her design studio, Nikki Khiran Couture!Her signature style is ethereal opulence, and the NK woman connotes elegance,sensuality and mystery, she’s a modern woman, a global gypsy, sensual yet conservative, playful yet reserved and confident, she’s the ultimate lady!Her aesthetic sense is rooted in her African background, but a global western influence is prevelant in her work, NK is known for exquisite workmanship and clothes that fit like a glove. Lets get up close and personal with this amazing woman.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up?
I was born in Abeerdeen but grew up in Nebraska. When I was in my teens my parents decided they wanted to move home and we moved to Ilorin. However I wasn’t there for long as once I turned 18 I moved to the UK and studied at the Fashion design and Technology at the London College of Fashion.
How did your parents feel about you studying Fashion
Well my Dad was a mathematician and physicist while my Mum was an educationist so they weren’t exactly please. Despite their initial disappointment the fact that I knew what I wanted and it spurred me on. The way they had raised me gave me the boldness to question them and fight for what I wanted and eventually they agreed. Interestingly enough I got my love for creativity from my mother. She would make curtains from scratch, make ceramics and from a young age I would play with fabrics and make batik, adire and even bake with her.
That’s interesting so if she herself was creative why the initial disappointment
My parents were trained and raised by missionaries so for them they felt the best careers were to be a teacher or a scientist, not a career in fashion.
After you studied you started your label in the UK and you were doing quite well there, what made you decide to move back?
Well I had already gotten some clients in Nigeria and I guess I was tired of the UK, I wanted to be in a warm and colourful environment. I was doing well in England and had clients from all over the world; I had Indians , Arabs; mostly international clientele but my fashion was geared towards Africa and though I didn’t get much encouragement to move I just went ahead . I am a very impulsive person so I basically just decided to move home and in 2002 I packed up and made the move.
What was the reception like?
First off I intended to adjust, started doing occasion wear. Stuff for outings and did that for years but found it interesting but stressful so started a Ready to Wear line 7 years ago. Aso ebi in my opinion has limited creativity
What challenges have you faced personally?
One major challenge having people copy my work. I was one of the people who started doing patchwork but there has been a lot of plagiarism as a lot of people rather than be creative. When you do something without talent it probably won’t last. So be relevant you have to keep re-inventing and come up with new things.
You were one of the pioneer fashion designers we had, now there is a proliferation of people claiming to be designers and quite a number are not getting it right, what are your thoughts?
Well first of all apart from passion you need to have talent, they both go together. Money can not buy talent. Another issue is that a lot of young people are not patient enough to learn how to properly run a fashion business. We also have the same issue with tailors, there is this rush to go and start business so a tailor comes and works for you for 6 months and sets up his own shop. This is why we end up having a lot of mediocrity in the industry. If people patiently learn properly they are better off. This is something I did a lot apart from the knowledge I gained at school I also spent a lot of time a young lady hanging around my Ghanaian Neighbours shop. She had a fashion business and I learnt a lot just being around her.
Let’s talk about your fabrics you have a lot of beautiful fabrics how do you source them?
Sourcing fabric is not easy as I have to source almost everything abroad. Apart from our local fabrics which I source locally and some fabrics I get from Nike Art Gallery everything else is sourced locally. A lot of people do not appreciate the hard work that goes into producing these clothes but the discerning minds always appreciate and they keep coming back.
You spoke about a lot of young designers not being patient enough to learn properly, would you be willing to mentor up and coming designers?
Yes I would.
Awesome, hopefully young designers will take up the opportunity to learn from you. Lastly, you have a very busy schedule, how do you get time to rest?
I love to dance, when I’m stressed I like to travel, a change of environment relaxes me, I cuddle up on my couch and catch up on all the series and movies I want to see, read my motivational books or just hang out great friends and have a good dinner, I’m a foodie what can I say.
Thanks so much, its been lovely talking to you.