Fashion and film are truly a match made in heaven. Although the red carpet, runways and billboards are more recognised ways for fashion brands to promote their new collections, the artistic medium of cinema can add an extra layer of intrigue to fashion labels, especially for a luxury connoisseur who needs to make a point of difference if they want to enhance their apparent exclusivity. Nigerian luxury fashion connoisseur, Chisom Njoku is one of such exclusive, high-end fashion buffs, committed to showcasing the classy elegance of African fashion, which he has most recently achieved with his tastefully made, eponymous art film, Luxe Eko.
The art film was made in partnership with the international car manufacturer, Porsche as it set out to challenge stereotypes of poverty and disorganisation that people have unfortunately affiliated with Africa. Luxe Eko opens with a narrator asking, “what do you really know about Lagos?“ before we see the lead actor and executive producer, Chisom Njoku, and the female lead and producer, Izegbua Ihongbe walking through a garage filled with Porshe cars. The 3-minute long short-film plays out like a music video that follows the couple as they go on a romantic boat cruise, pop a bottle of champagne and visit the biggest art gallery in West Africa, Nike Art Gallery. Each set captures them in different stylish couture that can definitely contribute towards changing the poverty narrative of Africa (particularly the suit with gold embroidery worn by Chisom and the diamond-studded black dress worn by Izegbua). The visuals are accompanied by songs to fit the mood, for example, Wizkid’s “True Love” and the confidence-inspiring Trap song, “Afro Wonder” was commissioned to make as the soundtrack for the entrance scene.
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Luxe Eko is Chisom Njoku’s second major project focusing on highlighting Lagos’ eccentric high-end scene. His first project ‘Parisian Vibes in Lagos’, was regarded as a breath of fresh air when it was released in 2018, but Luxe Eko is no doubt an improvement for its strategic partnerships.
NATIVE spoke with Chisom Njoku ahead of the premiere for the short film to get the full story behind the luxury fashion project, and collaborating with the world-class Porsche brand. You can read the conversation below.
NATIVE: Can you walk us through how you got Porsche involved with the art film?
Chisom Njoku: During the course of this project, I learned that the proper pronunciation is Porsche (paw·shuh). I and my co-producer, Izegbua, decided that we wanted to collaborate with a brand that has elegance in its name. We also wanted it to be a brand that hasn’t done something like this before. And truly this is the first time Porsche is doing a lifestyle project with any African or Nigerian creative. I found that interesting because a few other luxury brands were edging close – like there’s a Mercedes Benz fashion week in South Africa. So it was a prime opportunity. We approached Porsche Nigeria and through the head of marketing at the time, we were able to connect with the entire team in Germany. It all took off from there. It wasn’t a walk in the park because to execute something like this, you need to help them to understand what it is and see the vision. They could tell just how committed I was to tell the story.
Why did you choose to make an art film for promotion instead of the usual runways or red carpets?
So the reason I chose to make an art film was I felt it will capture the essence of the message a lot better. In 2018 I had released a lifestyle project called ‘Parisian Vibes in Lagos’ and that was a photo series. It went well and it was nice, but to me, I didn’t feel like it hit the nail on the head. I feel like people will connect to this more. You know, cause we were able to apply music, colour, and the movement of the subjects while showcasing fashion. Plus, it’s multimedia so it can be shared across different platforms. It made sense.
What was the recruitment process for those who worked on this project with you (actors, directors, camera crew etc)?
I made sure that I was already familiar with the work ethic of every single person that worked on this project because I knew it would be tasking. I had a grand vision in my head from the jump and everybody that didn’t key in to that would have fallen out [with me] because it didn’t necessarily make all the sense from the jump. I needed people that would trust that I knew what I was doing. This was the first time that I worked with some people that I worked with on this but I did my research beforehand so I knew how they were and how they responded to pressure. It made everything easier ’cause I knew they were just as dedicated to seeing it pop.
What are your expectations after partnering with an international world class brand?
I feel like working with Porsche doesn’t open doors for just me as an individual creative but for the whole Nigerian creative industry in general. It just shows people what we can achieve here. The entire project was shot and made special by Nigerians. We did everything here. There were international people involved of course but not on the creative level – it was more on the business side of things like negotiations and media as well.
Personally, I went on to start a production company which I actually used to execute this. The plan is to be able to execute more campaigns like this for world-class brands. Although it’s a great opportunity and it’s a blessing to say the first official project was for Porsche, I’m looking to do so much more. Looking to work with tech companies, fashion brands, artists, real estate agencies etc. Just being able to create and being able to bring out magic in this way is special for me. You know, being Nigerian, you’re already at a disadvantage so there are some things that seem out of reach, but the fact that my team and I were able to accomplish this just goes to show that, for me it was Porsche, for the next person, it could be Tesla. It could be anything. I’m excited to see what the future holds.
Huemaine is the production company and creative agency that I founded while creating Luxe Eko. I got the idea because I spoke to colleagues overseas and they’d talk about how there’s no reputable face for marketing agencies and advertising in Nigeria. When people want to make creative campaigns, they’d shoot in South Africa and come and use the campaigns here. Or just pay someone that’s popular but doesn’t know how to do good work. And the subpar work will discourage them from working with Nigerians again. Just seeing this and the quality of work we were able to put out, I hope it motivates more international brands to give Nigerian creatives a shot. The world is already a global village so I should be able to go from working with Porsche to working with Rolex next.
What’s it like running a luxury fashion brand in Lagos, Nigeria.
So like every other part of the world, luxury brands cater to a certain demographic. So that means your ads have to be tilted to that demographic and your content has to appeal to them. You have to put things on platforms and spaces where the people you’re targeting go to frequently.
It’s actually lucrative ’cause Africans love luxury. We like exclusivity, so if you’re able to properly establish a business of that sort in Africa, it’s very profitable. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of wealth domiciled here. There are people earning legitimate money that you wouldn’t believe. So, as far as operating a luxury fashion brand in particular, it’s just a matter of building quality and trust to a level where affluent Africans trust you enough to patronise you. ‘Cause that’s the hard part; getting them to trust that yours is original as opposed to traveling or flying out or having personal shoppers get [the products] for them overseas. If you’re able to establish that you sell authentic stuff at your store or your brand makes authentic products that they’d normally travel out to get, if you can show them that these luxuries are within the 15, 30 minutes drive within the city, they’d rush to you. But you have to establish that trust first.
Featured Image Credits: Instagram/inchisomwetrust
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