April 20, 2024

Nigeria’s fashion, culture and creativity inspire me – Bob Cal, US-based fashion designer

Nigeria’s fashion, culture and creativity inspire me – Bob Cal, US-based fashion designer

By Prisca Sam-Duru

Bob Cal is a celebrated fashion designer, television series producer, marketing, media, and public relations practitioner, and an avid violinist based in New York City, USA.

In this interview, Bob who is currently initiating FE TV HUB in Nigeria with Brendance and Crusaders, organisers of the Mr. & Miss Nigeria, shares reasons for partnering with a Nigerian brand and much more. Excerpts.

How did your journey into fashion-related television series begin?

I started my fashion career producing local fashion events. My first event was produced when I was still a college student. Titled ‘A Night in Tokyo’, this Japanese-themed fashion show received critical acclaim, huge sponsors, and major media coverage. My first professional experience was an internship with CNN Latino, which was producing morning show segments on fashion. As an intern, I pitched original fashion segments that the programming directors loved. This internship led to producing fashion segments for the CNN Latino channel. My next opportunity was an associate television producer for a show titled A La Moda, a Spanish-language television show on fashion that aired on the channel Mira TV, a program of which I produced over 100 episodes. I have also consulted for different fashion brands, and fashion television shows and produced a fashion show in New York City. I am currently initiating FE TV HUB in Nigeria with Brendance and Crusaders and will fly to China this year to produce a fashion series. I am in talks to activate FE TV HUB in Dubai, Brazil, and India.

Having travelled to different countries what informed your preference for Nigeria this time?

I have been interested in Nigeria’s entertainment industry for a long time. I was first informed about Nigeria’s fashion industry in 2013 when my Nigerian advertising client for a pharmaceutical company told me that Nigeria has a huge fashion and film industry. Upon further research, I was highly intrigued. Then I met Brendan Nsikak through a mutual contact in 2018 and he ultimately persuaded me to come to his pageant Mr. And Miss Nigeria. As someone who has travelled to over 70 countries, I was inspired by Nigeria’s commitment to fashion, culture, and creativity. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind market that the world needs to discover. I believe, that with my leadership, and the team at Brendance and Crusaders, we can transform Nigeria into a premium fashion content hub.

Specifically, why partner with Brendance and Crusaders Ltd?

Brendance and Crusaders produce cutting-edge, unique content. The CEO, Brendan Nsikak is an esteemed international choreographer and pageant coach who has worked in South Africa, United States, France and Germany. He is a trusted manager and his brand has a great reputation. I have personally seen how Brendan stays committed to his craft in spite of insurmountable challenges. He doesn’t make excuses; he gives results no matter what. He is one of the best people to work with.

Briefly share the process of conceptualizing and creating a fashion television series

I come up with ideas that are completely original and never seen before; I also put fresh spins on old ideas. I came up with the idea “Fit for a King”, which is a fashion design competition focused exclusively on men’s fashion. There have been fashion design competitions in the past, like Project Runway in the United States, that feature mainly women’s fashion. Fit for a King is an original spin on that idea. I came up with the idea Fashion Hunters, which puts stylists to the test to style a fashion film, a never-before-seen concept. All fashion series I come up with have to be original

What criteria do you consider when selecting people to work with?

 When selecting fashion designers, models and other professionals to feature on my shows, I consider branding and content compatibility. Does the talent have a good reputation? Aligning my brand with reputable talent is essential. Does the talent have a compelling story? Originality is important for creating unique content. I also like to feature unknown, fresh talents, and be the first to cover them. These are some of the things I look for.

How do you ensure diversity and inclusivity in your fashion television series?

I ensure diversity in my fashion series by being authentic. I genuinely admire talent and beauty from all walks of life and all areas of the world. I find all fashion, from street style in Japan, to be-spoke brands in Nigeria, to swimwear in Brazil, worthy of coverage. I genuinely find models of all backgrounds and sizes worthy of being on television. I naturally gravitate towards diversity so I just rely on my eye which leads to diversity.

What challenges do you encounter in the course of doing your job?

Everything about fashion television and fashion events is challenging. So many things could go wrong. Sponsors could back out, talent can back out, and designers can back out. The way you can counter these potential setbacks is to plan ahead and be prepared for inevitable challenges. And when challenges do come your way, you must think quickly and use critical thinking to come up with a solution.

How has the international fashion market impacted on your television series?

Fashion is becoming increasingly global so designers and aesthetics are becoming increasingly inspired by emerging fashion industries. By emerging fashion industries, I mean markets outside of the traditional fashion capitals of New York London, Paris and Milan. Industries like Lagos, Ghana and Kenya are inspiring designers and taste makers in major fashion hubs; so it is becoming increasingly important to spotlight fashion in these areas. 

What is your opinion of Nollywood? 

Nollywood is an incredibly vibrant and dynamic film industry that has made a significant impact not only in Nigeria but also on the global stage. As one of the largest film industries in the world, Nollywood has carved out a unique space for itself, producing a diverse range of films that reflect the rich cultural heritage, societal issues, and creative talent of Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

What I find most fascinating about Nollywood is its ability to tell compelling stories that resonate with audiences across diverse backgrounds and cultures. From gripping dramas and romantic comedies to thought-provoking social commentaries and historical epics, Nollywood films offer a window into the complexities and nuances of Nigerian life, while also addressing universal themes and emotions that resonate with viewers worldwide.

Moreover, Nollywood’s rapid growth and evolution over the years have been fueled by the ingenuity, resilience, and entrepreneurial spirit of its filmmakers, actors, and crew members. Despite facing challenges such as limited budgets, infrastructure constraints, and piracy issues, Nollywood continues to thrive and innovate, pushing the boundaries of storytelling and filmmaking through creativity, resourcefulness, and sheer determination.

How do you see the Nigerian music industry? 

The Nigerian music industry is another aspect of Nigeria that is waiting to explode. Afro-beats and various genres in Nigeria is catchy, groovy and makes you happy. I think it’s one of the best music industries in the world and I think the next decade will see a rise in Nigerian recording artists.