When designer Michelle Olupona launched her vintage-inspired collection of wax prints for the contemporary American woman, she picked a name to reflect the mood it’ll bring to all who wear her custom garments – BUSAYO!
Busayo means “Addition to Joy” in the Yoruba dialect from Nigeria. Michelle has successfully done that by incorporating rich wax prints of Ankara and batik – a beloved aesthetic of African fashion.
Most of Busayo’s charm is in its fondness for 1950’s garb from the full poodle-like skirts to the fitted sheath dresses. The line also hosts stunning tunics, baby doll dresses, and maxi looks which will work well with the Summer season. Busayo has a little bit of glam and ritzy for the unique Munaluchi Bridal reader. Below is an interview I did with Michelle.
How did you get started in the fashion industry and what was your motivation?
I started designing 3 years ago. I would always have my own clothes made in Nigeria using African fabric and textiles like a lot of people do when they go back home. I would wear them and then wanted to just indulge that desire and wanted to celebrate that in a larger way. My principal inspiration is the grandiosity of african fashion in our traditional form…The fact that we Africans love to dress up and look fierce and that our clothing is a reflection of who we are. I wanted to design clothes that celebrate our African aesthetic and move African fashion beyond “tribalism”. I wanted to design clothes that I would want to wear. That was really it. I am a lawyer by training and was really nervous about straying off this prescribed path.
Explain the meaning of Busayo! How did you decide upon your brand name?
Busayo means “addition to joy”. My full name is Oluwabusayo, which translates to God added to our joy in Yoruba. In the context of the line, I think of the line as bringing joy to the American woman’s closet.
African textiles have gained much popularity thanks to the brave fashionistas embracing the fabrics in their everyday attire. What materials do you use in your collection?
I use Ankara and Adire (batik). Increasingly I am integrating other types of textiles like jersey and lace.
Some are calling ‘African Fashion’ a trend. What are your thoughts on the evolution of African Fashion?
I think it is great. I hope that it moves beyond the trend and becomes an integral part of womens’ closets. I think our fabrics are so bold, creative and dynamic. And I am interested in clothing that is simple yet dramatic. Clothes that make a statement. African fabrics do that in an amazing, powerful way.
What has been your greatest achievement since launching Busayo New York?
Interacting with my customers and meeting some incredible people.
Who are your style icons that you look to for inspiration?
I am inspired primarily by prints and fabrics, so women on streets in Nigeria are inspiring. Although, I will always see a print on someone and I have no idea where they got it from. I am inspired everyday by women I see on the streets of New York. I am a big believer in individual style. I am always inspired by how regular women put pieces together to create a unified look.
Since Munaluchi Bridal is a magazine catered to brides, have you considered launching a bridal collection? Any plans to do so?
No, I haven’t. I think Bridal is so specialized and at least in the Yoruba tradition, it is so customized and every bride wants to put a little bit of herself into the clothing that she and her bridal party wears and as a designer this would be challenging to speak to such a range of tastes and style preferences.
I noticed that your line is affordable! Women love and appreciate affordable style. Was that a conscious effort?
Absolutely! I love clothes and I especially love affordable clothing. I don’t think fashion has to be extraordinarily expensive nor does an item’s price necessarily mean that it is stylish or even cute for that matter.
Congrats on the launch of your online boutique! What’s the best selling item so far and why do you think it is?
The Stretch Knit Dresses sold very well. I think the shape was really on-trend, the prints were beautiful and the shape was really flattering and works for different body shapes.
What can we expect from the latest Busayo New York collection?
Lots of strong batiks. It’s really a move towards batik and less of the traditional ankara prints. I really love batiks and the strong contrasts in batiks. Its also our home-grown tradition and I love that about this batiks.
Which celebrities would you love to design a custom piece for?
Too many to count- Solange, Kelis, Asa.
Do you have any style advice for our readers?
I think the Coco Chanel’s advice still stands, always remove one accessory before leaving your home. Combine colors in whatever way you want, why not?
It was a pleasure getting to know more about your brand Michelle! To learn more about Busayo, visit their official online boutique.