NexDim caught up with Cameroonian fashion designer Sama Miguel for an exclusive interview. He talks about his career journey, exploits and ambitions.
Let’s dive in
NexDim: Briefly introduce yourself.
Sama Miguel : I am called AYATOU TITA SAMA, a Cameroon-based designer with the brand name SMCLASS. I hail from the North West region and I come from a Muslim and Christian home.
What inspired you to indulge into fashion designing ?
Sama Miguel: Fashion and designing has always been my passion; right from when I was still a kid. I always wanted to stand out from other kids especially during Christmas. As most parents would want to buy imported clothes from China for their kids, I’ve always wanted my mom to get me unique African fabric from the market, for my Christmas dress to be produced locally . I grew up loving fashion.
What is your first fashion memory?
Sama Miguel: My first fashion memory was a piece I created to honor my grandmother, because I spent half of my childhood with her. She is a farmer and we always went farming together. This piece was a hand-painted lady carrying a basket and a hoe to the farm. The story was painted on a kaftan outfit and at that time it was my most sold out outfit, because it was unique and reflects Africa.
Where does your creative inspiration come from?
Sama Miguel: My creative inspiration comes from my African environment. My day-to-day life experiences, fabrics and African stories.
How do you walk the line between being unique and having commercial appeal?
Sama Miguel: Being unique from my inspirational outfits draws buyers who are interested in the African man’s story, to place orders especially, as it’s being interpreted on clothes.
As a fashion designer, how would you define your role in society ?
Sama Miguel: My role in the society is to transform the African man’s looks, to be of class and elegance, while portraying Africa. A goal to impact youths in my community by creating employment for those who have mastered the craft, in order to earn from it. At the same time, encouraging others to believe in handwork. Lastly, to preserve culture, by maintaining it on created outfits.
What have you achieved so far as a fashion designer?
Sama Miguel: I’ve been able to dress a whole lot of people both nationally and internationally, ranging from business people, civil servants and celebrities both home and abroad. I am a 5-time nominee for Best designer of the year in my category and a 4-time award winner. I’ve been able to cut across national borders, as a guest on fashion shows like Katiti Seychelles Fashion week ( twice), Africa Fashion week Nigeria, a fashion talk and seminar in Dubai.
One of your greatest achievements was at the Lagos Fashion Week. Tell us about your experience
Sama Miguel: My experience at the Africa Fashion week Nigeria was amazing. I had the opportunity to showcase and tell stories of my outfits to the audience, who were richly inspired by the outfits, especially about the storyline of “TOGHU”.
Which celebrities have you styled ?
Sama Miguel: I’ve styled a cross section of celebrities both home and abroad, ranging from comedians like Kwoh Elonge (Auntie Felicia), Grand Lawrenzo, actors like Epule Jephrey, Ndamo Damaris and international celebrities from Nollywood Zack Orji, Ramsey Nouah, IK OGBONA and former Big Brother Naija housemate Triky T.
What are the collections you have released so far?
Sama Miguel: I’ve been on weekly releases, without naming them as a collection but I’ve got some old collections like the Luxury Revolution, Elegant Collection, Danshiki revolution. All aimed at redefining the Africa man in Class and style.
Who are your role models ?
Sama Miguel: Mai Atafo, Deji & Kola, Seyi Vodi and Yomi Casual. They are typical African designers who tell African stories on garments.
What are your aspirations as a fashion designer?
Sama Miguel: To penetrate the global market and put Cameroon on the fashion map. I also aspire to bring in foreign buyers and brands to believe in us as Cameroonian designers and Africa at large.
Have you been collaborating with other Cameroonian fashion designers ?
Sama Miguel: I have collaborated with Style Me Diamonds and Djec Fashion
What are the challenges you face as a fashion designer in Cameroon?
Sama Miguel: Some of the challenges I face are fabric sourcing. Since all fabrics are not locally produced, it limits the number of pieces created because the same fabric is not always available when the demand is high. Challenges in exposure with zero support from the government. The fashion sector is neglected and the government does not invest in it. The cost of shipping to diaspora clients is extremely expensive.
Your design was the rave at last year’s CAMIFF. What inspired that toghu blazer with the cowries ?
Sama Miguel: About my last year traditional outfit for CAMIFF, what inspired that Toghu blazer was my culture especially as culture has over the years been a particular pattern. I had to incorporate that in a blazer, so that stories could be told in all forms of outfits, not necessarily a particular garment. The additional cowries on the blazer was to remind us of our rich cultural heritage.
What’s your advice to budding fashion designers ?
Sama Miguel: Be creative; create a unique style for your brand, be inspired from every style, have a brand identity and lastly portray Africa.
It was nice having you on NexDim Empire
Sama Miguel: Thanks you