The Fashionable Gentleman

Former Mr Nigeria Bryan Okwara, either physically or virtually. The actor and present brand ambassador of Martini and Ouch revealed how fashion has been an important voice in his career, speaking volumes without words.The actor/model spoke with VanguardAllure’s Linda Orajekwe

What is fashion to you?

Fashion to me is an expression of self. I believe we express ourselves differently and in different colours and fashion help us do that. It helps us express ourselves in ways we want people to see us.

How would you describe your personal style?

I would like to call it the year of the gentlemen, so I always try to look like a gentle, wear clean cuts, fitted clothes, I always try to detail myself with my pocket or my hats or my shoes, I always try to look according to what I am aiming for which is usually the gentleman look and I always try to dress according to the occasion I am attending.

Who’s your favourite African designer?

That might be a bit kind of cliché because I’m the brand ambassador for Ouch. But even if I am not the ambassador, I will still pick Ouch because it has been there for years and it is growing well. It has gone from your regular polo shirt to giving you a full look of the week, so if you look at it, Ouch is the 360 man and that reason is enough to pick them, even considering the fact that they give me the gentleman look I go for (laugh)

What’s your fashion secret?

I watch out for my details because the detail is that little thing you add to change your entire look and set you apart from everyone else. You can wear the same look with someone, but the way you detail and style your black suit can stand you out totally, so I pay great attention to my detail, that’s my fashion secret.

What’s your fashion must have?

Fashion must have would have to be shoes (laughs) got to have the right shoe men! Sometimes you want to put on some sneakers on native because it is trendy, but I believe the right shoe is key. So my fashion must have is the right shoes. Shoes can go a long way you know. You might be wearing the wrong cloth, but the right shoe just makes everything seem right.

What’s that fashion item you own that you like to add to all your looks?

I think that’ll be the double brooch, but that is not as consistent as my blazer, so I think it’ll have to be my blazer. I think there are so many ways you can wear a blazer and I do just that, wear it the different possible ways and look forward to the outcome.

Do you exercise?

Yes, I do, three times a week mostly, but when I have the time five times a week.

How do you relax?

I watch movies, especially the ones with a lot of comedy into it. I try to relax my brain, take myself away from work when I can. I love performance cars, I like fast cars, they help me relax and help me get rid of a lot of things I’m thinking about at a particular point in time. I also like to host friends, share experiences of the week and try to know what’s happening in their lives some of these stories shared sort of bring me back to my sense.

What’s your favourite vacation spot?

I’ve been to a lot of places I think Singapore would be a place I can consider my favourite because they have no slum. You know when you enter a city and you are sort of eager to see the slu7m but everywhere is just clean. In Africa, I’ll pick South Africa because it is such a beautiful place. Durban is so beautiful and the beaches? They literally have the hotel on the other side of the road, and when you come down from the road, the beach is just right there you can just walk in. The place is so beautiful it is definitely a vacation spot for me.

What’s your daily routine like?

It varies. When I wake up I pray, if I have an hour or two I work out, I have breakfast before I leave the house because it is very important and I set off for my meetings if I have any planned and come right straight to the house when I’m done.

What inspires you?

What inspires me is the passion and freedom to do better than something I’ve already done. That’s what keeps me going most of the times.

What’s the worst fashion item you’ve bought?

That’ll be Ties for me. I don’t wear a lot of Ties so think I usually get it wrong with ties most of the times. I might see a tie and think it’ll really look good only for me to get home and realize it is really big and hanging down and I just never wore it or I give it out.

How does fashion improve your brand?

Fashion has given me the freedom to express myself in ways I never thought possible. It has helped me achieve looks that I didn’t imagine myself before. it has helped me portray myself in ways I’ve always wanted people to see me as. It has helped improve my confidence, it’s like the unknown voice that speaks when you’re not even speaking. With fashion, I’ve been able to achieve a lot of things I’m not even aware of.

What’s your thought on African fashion?

I think there is so much life right now to what we are doing as Africans, it has definitely evolved. It’s not as boring as we used to see it. It’s not as dormant and mundane as we used to see it, right now people enjoy wearing African attire and I kind of like the flavour Africans are adding to the industry and that is the way forward and I can’t wait to see how designers, fashion influencers and enthusiasts can get at creative at pushing the African fashion industry higher.

Is there a standard fashion industry in Nigeria?

There is a fashion industry in Nigeria, but it is not there yet. As good-looking as what we have is, there are so many things that need to be fixed and the first thing I’ll point out is our media. The industry does not appreciate the media enough and they forget that these are the people that will tell their stories and this is just one of the many things that need to be fixed in the industry.

First published in VanguardAllure

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