The International Women's Day campaign aims to share the stories of hidden female figures in the digital fashion world.
A CONVERSATION WITH AISHA OLADIMEJI
Self-taught digital fashion designer Aisha was inspired during an academic strike after seeing a 3D collection runway of Congolese fashion designer, Anifa Mvuemba and searching for the software used in the creation, she spent the weeks that followed she taught herself to be a virtual fashion designer.
Since then, she has had a collection titled ECLECTIC in 2021, inspired by experimental structures worldwide, and presented at the New York digital fashion week in 2022. Oladimeji's work is visually attractive, with architectural, high couture, and textural elements.
Can you tell us about your journey in the digital fashion space?
Aisha has been into fashion since 2014, right after her pre-degree program, while waiting for her admission into the university. I never thought I could make a career out of fashion. The main reason for learning was to have a side hustle that would bring in some money to add to whatever my parents gave me while in school. I studied architecture at the university, which is a good and promising field. After graduating, I applied to start my master's in architecture immediately to foster my journey into being an architect. However, COVID came and ASUU strike; I was stuck at home with nothing but my sewing machine.
One day in September 2020, I came across a page on Twitter looking for a design intern in Ibadan/Lagos (remote). I didn’t know what the job description was about, I was just desperate to get something done as school had not resumed yet, and I was tired of being idle. I wasn’t even getting a whole lot of clothes to sew. This same person introduced me to 3D fashion software, and I started a self-learning journey from there. Of course, I had the person by my side whenever I was stuck or had queries. It took a while to realise that 3D design was something I had bookmarked to learn after seeing the Hanifah fashion show earlier that year. So when I realised this, I was thrilled, which gave me more push to keep learning.
My progress was what encouraged me to keep going. From learning how to use clo3d, I spent hours learning new software programs like Daz3d, Blender, and Substance painter while networking with other designers. My hard work paid off in the long run, and I started getting commissioned for virtual clothing.
I am so proud of myself for how far I’ve come. I also have to give credit to my background in architecture for my ability to think creatively and approach fashion design in a new and exciting way.
What inspires you every day?
One of that should be technology. I get inspired by the new and innovative technologies that have made it possible for me to push the boundaries of my design.
The fact that I am making a difference inspires me as I have gone beyond traditionally making garments and my personal experiences.
Have you ever faced discrimination because of your gender, and how did you overcome it?
In this line of work? No. Most of the 3D fashion designers I know are women.
How do you empower women in your line of work?
Collaboration! I work with other women to share resources and expertise while creating new opportunities for ourselves, which extends to men too.
Mentorship: I’ve shared resources, support, and advice with anyone that has reached out on how to go about digital fashion
Training: I also offer one-on-one training to those who have reached out for tutoring.
What is your advice to young women who want to be successful in your field?
First, believe in yourself. If I had given myself a pint of doubt, I wouldn’t have learnt what I know today. Self-doubt is a way of sabotaging yourself. Try new things and take risks.
Then you don’t stop learning. The world is evolving every day. Keep up with the new trends and methods.
Have a portfolio that shows your skills and growth. Create diversity in your works to showcase what you have.
Most importantly, network and collaborate with others. This helps spread your excellent work. Collaborate with other designers too.
Lastly, don’t give up. No industry isn’t competitive and challenging. Challenges are meant to be overcome, so keep pushing harder and working; success will be yours with time and persistence.
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