Oga At the Top become a twitter and Nigerian social media frenzy when Mr. Obafaiye Shem of the NSCDC, Lagos, failed to answer a simple question pertaining to what the website for the NSCDC website was. If you are unaware of this, scroll to the bottom, watch the video clip before reading the article.
A classic example of how social media is affecting lifestyle choices happened a few weeks ago, when Nigerians went on different social media platforms to discuss the famous interview Channels Television, an urban TV station based in Lagos, held with the Lagos State Commander of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Mr. Obafaiye Shem.
Ironically, while responding to questions about NSCDC’s website address, the state commander made reference to his Oga at the Top and the subsequent debacle around his answer including clips from the interview went viral online.
Social media backlash quickly followed this interview and the My Oga at the Top was an instant hit, adding to local parlance catch-phrases. The creative industry jumped on it and several entertainers tapped into the commercial aspect of the situation, using the viral catchphrase to produce music, T-shirts, short documentaries, funny quotes, graphics and more.On the frontline of this innovative parlance is Chief Executive of Wa a Gba Clothier, Wole Shodipe-Dosunmu, who said the slogan has increased sales at Wa a Gba greatly while maintaining that more orders for T-Shirts carrying My Oga at the Top,’ inscription is the order of the day for his business. For Wole, the whole thing actually started as a joke on the social media. But it became financially rewarding when the idea to meet an instant need of so many clients came to him.
“You can’t imagine the sales I have made. It started around 12 noon on that day; I designed a specimen and used the picture as my BlackBerry display picture, immediately clients showed interest. At first, I sold more than 200 pieces in just four hours, after which they kept on ordering for more”.
The T-Shirt goes for a price of N5000 and the young clothier confessed that he has been able to make hundreds of thousands in sales. “I don’t know for how long the order for the shirt will last, but I have sold more than 600 pieces in just a few days. This is what I call good business and it is simply what every clothier desires”.
Prior to the emergence of My Oga at the Top line, Wa a Gba designs are often seen on top-notch artistes in the music industry like Wizkid, Wande Coal, Sarz, Reminisce, Shina Rambo, Ice Prince, Davido and others..
Speaking on the NSCDC boss’ gaffe, the versatile designer said: “It shows the level of the understanding of our institutions by people in higher places. Good for me though, I’m making money from his mistake, but to say the truth, this shows how much leadership challenge we have in the country”.
The Lagos-born designer is inspired by his homeland’s traditions and has a deep appreciation for the arts. His collections can’t be exclusively placed under the urban spectrum; it is a fusion of Western and pure traditional styles. He uses Western fabrics, accessories and tools, but his pattern of cutting clothes and the fittings of his designs on people is undoubtedly a portrayal of the African lifestyle. Wole described his works as a mix of western and ancient embellishment techniques.
To cope with rising competition in the fashion sphere, Wa a Gba (which in English means ‘You’ll be impressed’) consistently dedicates time to studying his immediate environment, picking up designs from things he sees in natural settings and combining the ideas to whatever is trending in the global fashion market. “I love travelling and I believe rapid change in one’s place of living is vital to inspiring a fashion designer’s choice of materials and the outcome of their creations”, he said.
Unlike others who acquire formal training in fashion designing, Wole studied Communication Technology at the School of Communication, Lagos State University, LASU. He stumbled upon a career in clothes-making after several mistakes and learning from his experiences –from conquering the huge cost of buying classic designers, identifying fake materials in the jam-packed Nigerian market to attending exhibitions to see creative works and pick up innovative ideas in the fashion industry.
Like every other young entrepreneur in Nigeria, Wole highlighted the unavailability of capital and lack of reliable credit services from banks as one of the major challenges for his business and other small scale business outfits in the country. However, he recounted how, with discipline, 40% of his proceeds is saved and ploughed back into the business which he credits as one of the several stringent approaches to funding Wa a Gba.
Over the years, the business has made impressive sales from popular slogans but according to the designer, My Oga at the Top comes in as second highest selling slogan after Superman which reigned in 2012. “Apart from the common slogans prevalent in contemporary fashion, I also founded and popularised some exclusively on my clothing line, like Greedy man, Highlife, Egunje, Leopard jean, etc”.
In the future, Wole plans to have a factory and produce self-designed fabrics; just like the Kente of Ghana, Anger of Tivland and Aso Oke of Yorubaland, the young clothier has promised not to relent until he achieves the Wa a Gba fabric which he intends to market first in Africa and later in the international market.