Elvis is one inspiring creative who uplifts and amplifies the voices of others especially in the African fashion industry. We love how he has carved a niche for himself while maintaining versatility in the fashion space. In all grace, consistency and intentionality Elvis explores a wide range of unconventional perspectives and thrives in his own unique style as a creative journalist.
Join us on this special ISSUE as Elvis shares a truckload of inspiration on glimpses of his creative journey and how he stirs meaningful conversations in the African fashion industry and beyond.
Enjoy and Stay Inspired:
We love how you have carved a niche in the African fashion industry while maintaining versatility in this space. It’s the consistency, with an obvious intentionality on how you explore a variety of unconventional perspectives. Can you please share some highlights of how you began your journey as a creative journalist?
I delved into fashion as a designer. Never really did fashion as a journalist until COVID happened. I had internships and apprenticeship, because I wanted to be part of the fashion industry. So I went on to a fashion school – more like a fashion house, because there aren’t really recognized fashion schools in Nigeria. In the fashion house, I learnt about fashion illustration, fashion designing and so on. I owned my brand at this time. Then COVID happened, I travelled with a friend to Port Harcourt. My friend had an interview in Port Harcourt while I utilised the opportunity to visit and experience the city. Owing to interstate lockdown, two weeks planned in Port Harcourt became three months. During this time, I didn’t have fabrics and a sewing machine with me, so my friend and I decided to be useful rather than be a liability to our hosts. I started sending proposals to magazines to work with them. I really did not bother about the pay: my concern was to build my portfolio. And that was how I smashed the roof in fashion journalism. From being a Nigerian editor for Vanity Teen, I went on to be a weekend contributor at BusinessDay Weekend and a number of other publications.
What would you consider to be the major influence of your works?
From a place of personal experience. I feel like if I haven’t experienced a subject matter, I do not have the right to talk about it despite the fact that journalism entails discussing stories without personal experience. So for me, as much as I like to spotlight African designers doing excellent work, I try to find an interface between fashion and something else like politics, racism, individuality.
Plus, because I do not have my reality tied around designers of the global fashion industry including Europe and the United States, I do not discuss about them. My inspiration has to literally come from a place of personal experience, because this is my reality and this is something I can discuss about.
Can you remember the first professional article you wrote and what inspired it?
I have been ghost-writing for a fashion brand. You know with ghostwriting, you produce the article, but it is published without your name. I think the first article with my name on it was about fashion and androgyny. I wanted to spotlight androgynous fashion in Nigeria at the time. I vividly remember my first story for Vanity Teen. It was also about fashion and androgyny, given the impact of fashion and how we can allow people to be more expressive in how they dress.
You do not only write about fashion. You also ‘live it’ while reflecting your unique style. Do you have any special story behind your love/interest in the fashion industry?
Not to sound very cliché, but I think a number of people who actually involve themselves in fashion started at their formative years. That was the same thing for me. I had always wanted to dress my mum. She’d look really good and ask me about her gele styles. Hence, I wanted be a designer to make women look good and create pieces to flatter them.
What does Art mean to You?
It has to be being able to express. The interpretations are very different. What you see is not what another person will see. So for me, Art is a means of expression, a means to have conversations. It is a way of talking without the use of words.
We are grateful to have you onboard this special ISSUE with the theme- Girt, in celebration of inspiring men in the creative industry, also to mark the 2022 International Men’s Day. We understand the growing need to build a culture where men can express emotions like shedding tears without the fear of being looked down upon. The need to create spaces where men can be their most vulnerable selves with family and friends without the fear of being seen as or called a weakling. Do have any personal related experience to these? Can you share any quick tips that could help to normalize mental health related issues for both men and women?
To be honest, I actually did have a good childhood with the most amazing parents and siblings. I mean, if I was going to come to earth again, it would definitely be through these same people. I come from a very humble background, but my parents are just the best. I am really blessed to have a family who never really interrogated my attitude and choices, rather they were defensive towards interrogation of strangers. I am super grateful for my family members for being so supportive.
My first point of call is definitely going to be making yourself a safe space for people. Instead of focusing on what this person did and didn’t do to you, do you want to maybe ask why this person didn’t trust me enough to tell me. You’re pissed at what this person told other people instead of wondering why it wasn’t you. If somebody saw you as a safe space, they would definitely want to share as much as they want to with you. It has to come from you as a person, making yourself a safe space.
What will you consider most fulfilling right now in your journey as a creative?
I think I’m currently there. It is most likely what I’m currently doing. I love fashion journalism. I want to always write about it. I want to have conversations that ropes into it – that’s most likely going to be my fulfilment. Trying to write about the creative industry, but through the lense of mostly highlighting African designers. Like I said, I did start off as a fashion entrepreneur and it was really hard to hit certain platforms and certain spaces. So I love that my work is spotlighting designers that are supposed to be on global platforms. This is what I find fulfilling right now and this is what I’m currently doing. In the long term, I want to move the conversations from very represented spaces like Nigeria and South African to very unrepresented spaces like Benin Republic and Zambia and Tunisia. I would love to bring a number of interesting brands and designers in each of these countries to the forefront.
You described yourself as an incredibly shy person- ‘antisocial’ which is quite relatable to many creatives out there, what’s your ‘dream life’ as a creative?
Definitely, I’m an incredibly shy person, but I know how to have conversations. I think the dream for me has to be in fashion journalism like travelling to cover the industry on a wider scale. I am still trying to balance my shy personality and how I battle imposter syndrome as to balance it with this dream. I think so far, I’m doing a great job.
How was growing up like?
Like I said before, it was good. It was actually superb. Growing up was really good, it was great. I had fun moments, did everything as a child. I progressed rather fast, if that makes sense. I learnt things faster. I experienced things faster. Growing up was really good, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Maybe I’d want to have more money.
You often stand for marginalized groups fighting for inclusion. You shared how a piece by you on the Plus Size Industry in Nigeria was one of your most important work yet. Please share a few quick tips on how Art can be used to correct faulty orientations.
I think first of all, the first tip is realizing that Art can in fact be used as a way to start a conversation. I think it is something that people really have to understand. It can be politicised. It can be a bias to have conversations. I have piece currently running on Essence magazine where I was writing about how fashion can be politicized, how a number of designers have used their brands. Paul Onwuka worked with women who have been internally displaced by Boko Haram. I never thought of something like that. All I had in mind was if I want to work with designers and tailors, you just have to source for them, go to any local market to pick them, but she had to go out and select these people because obviously there are no figureheads in their lives anymore and she wanted to give them a reason, a hope to say oh you can actually move forward with this. Art can be used to make conversations. There is a piece by Renike, a contemporary artist. Her works are targeted at feminism and empowering women and stuff like that. So understand that your wok can in fact be politicized and be used as a way to start these conversations.
Do you feel creatives in developed countries are at advantage than those in developing countries?
I think that’s true. And I’ll give you reasons. Because I live in Nigeria which is a developing country, literally the giant of Africa, the most populated country that already brings in some kind of attention into this space. For example, I literally just told you about a friend that we’re literally always together and we have to be on certain mainstream platforms that brings in more light into this space. Of course, like whether or not you’re in a developing country or underdeveloped country, you have the same 24hours and the same opportunities. I don’t think that’s entirely true. I’m in the suburban places in Lagos and I don’t think other people in the country or in smaller countries have this same access that I do. I have internet access and a number of opportunities that I don’t think other people do. Obviously, Nigeria is still developing. I think that we’re exposed more to opportunities than people in very very underdeveloped countries.
Balancing work time and rest time is a struggle for many Creatives. Please share a few tips on how you try to balance work time, rest time and family time?
To be honest, I’m struggling with this. However, I try to create a to-do list to get things done. Then I tell myself “Oh my God, Elvis, if you do not get this done now…you won’t do it again” and I think it’s that rush, it’s that oh you know you have to just get this done. I think that’s one of the major pointers for me. I got commissioned by 7 publications. I literally write 8 stories for Lagos Fashion Week right now and it was not until Friday that I had to begin to send out all the pieces. I got very exhausted. I got very tired. I just wanted to rest. I just wanted to marinate and simmer into the energy but because the time was near, I had to just get the work done and obviously the work still gonna have that same quality. So an advice I’d definitely give is to create a to-do list and do not procrastinate. So I’m like once it’s 8:30 or 10 in the morning I have to start a piece. That’s what I do I sort of mentally prepare myself for it because I am very huge on procrastination. I’m not going to lie I literally procrastinate a lot so I have to mentally get into it. Once I say I will start this thing by 10 o’clock, by 8 8:15, I’m like okay I’m supposed to be doing this by 10. Once it’s 8:30 and 9, I remind myself again. I just have to mentally prepare myself for it. So that’s what I do because I’m very big on procrastination
Another tip I’d give is to have an accountability partner. So like I have friends who also really write and like they are very big. I have friends from New York Times and other big writers and so we actually hold ourselves very accountable. So I’m like oh my God, what are you working on, have you done this, have you done that. So literally when we are talking about Fashion pieces this week, it was the same thing we were talking about. We have so many pieces to write about and there is so little time, what story are you currently working on? How have you managed? Are you on the first paragraph? Second paragraph? It’s like this back and forth. So that’s definitely something I’d advise. My first advise is to mentally prepare for it, create a to-do list and have that mental picture in your head that I’m definitely going to start this by this and try not to procrastinate further and another thing is obviously have an accountability partner. It’s like having a gym partner, someone that’d say it’s time for us to go here, it’s time for us to go there. And lastly, hack it. Try to hack it. If your piece is coming out by this time and you’re having creative block and writer’s block and it’s here and you know you cannot give in to any more news, force it. Literally force it. Make it happen. Hack it. That’s what I do once it’s time and I have nothing. Because obviously this is like a full time thing for me. One thing about writing is you do not want to mess up the relationship you have with this person. So if I have an editor that wants a piece by Thursday and you don’t deliver and you’re giving excuses by Friday, it breaks that relationship. But that is not to say you shouldn’t take some rest.
What is success to you?
That’s one hard question. It’s a question we say all the time, but I’ve never really thought about it, but I think success for me will be fulfilment. It is being in a place and feeling good about it. I don’t think there is a measure for it. I don’t think it has to be being the managing director of a very big publication before you think that oh I have reached a very good success because definitely there’s always going to be a career higher than a career. A role higher than a role. There’s really no metric or measure to it, but for me, it’s fulfilment. It would be doing things that I really love. So for me, It’s the fulfilment. It’s the joy. You wake up and you’re like ‘I have this story I want to write about, I have this interview I want to do, it’s so interesting I cannot stop working on it.’ It’s that rush. That adrenaline. That thing that makes you keep going. That’s how I would rate my own success. It’s the fulfilment you find in doing what you do, the joy and love you find in what you’re doing. How your cheek blossom when you think about it.
Please briefly tell us something we do not know about Elvis Kachi.
It’s most likely going to be the fact that I’m an incredibly shy person but I think what most people don’t understand is I spend almost everyday of my life struggling with imposter syndrome. I literally have a tweet about that, like maybe an hour ago that thing about me is that I hate how I feel very undeserving of most things even though quite frankly I have put in the work for most things. So even when I try to enjoy the dividends or benefits that come with it, I’m like are you sure you’re not a fraud. I literally always try to remind myself that I’m not and I hate that I have to. Something that most people do not know and that is very foreign to me right now is that I try to remind myself that I really do not have to be in certain spaces and places. Because you know people are always talking about the importance of networking and going out there and just meeting people but I don’t think we talk about the importance of taking a few steps back and understanding what we want, who you want to be found with. It is something I’m definitely reminding myself of, not to be in certain spaces that are not for me.
Let’s go a little poetic: If poetry is a rainbow and you have a choice of one color in that pallette, what would that be and why?
I’ll give you two colours. The first colour is obviously not on the rainbow and it’s white, because it is so pure and symbolic and easy and it literally goes with anything and that’s what I want people to understand. White and black are two colours that you can pair with anything. I think another colour for me is yellow because I really like yellow. Yellow flatters my skin.
Massive Love Elvis!
The ICONIC Team