The first time I saw Yusuf in person, he was dressed in a crisp white shirt, nice trousers and nice shoes. He not only speaks and works on style, he lives in it. At a very young age, he has managed to do something different, broad and international as a Northern Nigerian man. He clearly puts the real work in and I believe he will change the face of fashion starting with Nigeria. The interview took place at Capital Hub in Abuja and it was fun getting all the details! If you haven’t already, meet Yusuf Tumi Abubakar…
How would you describe yourself?
I am Yusuf Abubakar and I am just like every other dude. I love to be busy and creative. I can’t stay without work. I’m more of a lifestyle person, I love to set the bench mark and I love to also hit my benchmark especially in terms of what I am known for, which is ‘Mr AP – Apparel Polo’. Fashion is one of the things that I pioneer and I am also a computer engineer, I invest in technology; I am involved with entertainment. My most recent involvement was with MTV, which was a major deal for me, one of my biggest. Other than that, I just love to create value with my environment.
How did the deal with MTV come to happen?
I was the official time sponsor for MAMA awards as Vintage Concept. I’ve been involved with a lot of different things; one of them is having my collection on the Oprah Winfrey network, deals with footballers down to my partnership with Bobby Valentino. I work with companies based on the profile of the work I have done. The MTV deal was something I worked for, prepared a proposal and they saw it, they bought into it, and so we went into partnership with a lot of money and accessories involved. It’s a major deal for me. I was lucky because it is not everyone who gets a deal like that
Hard work spotlights character and I guess that’s why MTV put the work in with me. I met their requirements.
How did the project on the Bobby V collection come to be?
We hadn’t met at first. A friend of mine who’s a stylist took my collection and went in to style him and Bobby V liked it so he took some of the stuff. He reached out to me and said he loved the style and wants to go into fashion. So we will collaborate on his own label under my brand so it is just like what Karl Lagerfeld has done with other brands. We will also work together on some other projects in Africa. We’ve been working well and hopefully you guys will see him in Nigeria soon.
Do you have tips on how a gentleman should dress?
I think less is more
Be anything but ordinary
Like I always say, be unorthodox.
I don’t want what I’m wearing to wear me; I want to be smart with what I am wearing so my most valuable tips are:
Get a nice pair of shoes; your wrist game should be on point – you don’t have to wear a Rolex, I say buy a 300-500 dollar watch, which you can enjoy for a long time.
Your style makes your dreams come true.
Speaking of wristwatches, what’s on your wrist?
This is an old timepiece, one of my favorites. It is Hermes and I have had it for a long time and I’m not sure I’m letting it go anytime soon. Of all the watches I have, this one is simple and it represents me.
Who are your greatest influencers when it comes to fashion and style?
My dad has impeccable style and I learnt some things from him. I first saw this Hermes belt, a Bottega Veneta from him and even a Burberry trench coat. So, my dad, and I love the style from the 60s, Victorian style for ladies. I also love Gatsby. Other designers like Ozwald Boateng from London, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld-his attitude and style. Different times and different styles but I love to think I created my own style.
How does the fashion scene differ in London and in Nigeria?
In Nigeria, we do not work together and there is sometimes a cold reception to collaborations. I would love to see different designers come together; it makes even the competition sharper. Nigerians are doing well but there is still some deception in it.. For example, people don’t buy. I don’t believe in giving someone my clothes to wear and post a picture of it on Twitter, my stuff is always sold organically and that’s one of the reasons I take pride in Apparel Polo.
I would love to see Nigerian brands grow organically rather than trying to make things viral on Twitter. I’m looking at it from the business point of view. From quality, to marketing to promotion to packaging and selling, it should always be a hundred then things will work out.
I think there should be more collaboration and shows that have good taste to give the crowd what they want to see, and less famzing cause it can kill the brand if too many friends are involved and they are not actually buying the product. It kills the brand!
What’s your personal life like?
My personal life is mostly kept private but I make a lot of noise when it comes to business. There is a special woman in my life and I’m lucky to have her!
What do you think about fashion in Nigeria, especially in Abuja? What do you think about Yusuf and his work? Leave a comment or email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
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