Daniel Kunke, a 19-year old Nigerian college student, speaks about why he decided to start an LGBT-inclusive clothing brand.
In an interview with NoStringsNG, the teenager, who is currently studying mass communications at Yaba College of Technology in Lagos, says his aim is to ensure that everyone is “equally represented” by making sure that “there’s something available for everyone.”
Read the interview below.
Can you tell us about yourself, your brand, how it all started, and what inspired it?
I am a janitor, brand owner and I write during my bored times. I am the founder of Kunke’s Apparel, a new Lagos-based clothing line focused on making urban wears that can be worn to major occasions, especially in Lagos where we have all the altè and urbane hangouts and locations. [Editor’s note: “altè” is a Nigerian term meaning “alternative” and referring to a style of music, art, and fashion that emphasizes free expression and individuality.]
The idea to start up a fashion brand has always been there, but I never did put any real efforts into making it happen, not until recently when I took the idea more seriously. This happened immediately after I stopped working as a personal assistant to my previous employer.
One of the things that inspired me to start up a clothing line was majorly the idea of having my own thing and to be independent, as against working under the employ of someone else which isn’t really something that I like.
Also, the reason why I decided to run an inclusive brand came as result of my interest in socio-discriminatory topics and my strong desire to ensure that all persons regardless of their sexuality or gender identity are equally represented across the board.
So going forward, what’s the overall plan? Don’t you worry that being an LGBT-inclusive brand will hurt your business considering people’s negative perception about LGBT issues?
Honestly, at this point, the plan now is just to sit back and see how everything turns out and how far the brand could go. In fact, my aim right now is to ensure that more people get to see what I am doing and are able to patronize me so that I can remain in the business. It’s not necessarily to be the number 1 clothing line in the world, not like that will be a bad thing if it happens though (smiles).
And also, I really do not think that being inclusive would have a negative impact on my brand. The brand is not just for a particular set of people, it’s for everyone. So just come into the store and pick whatever it is that you like and go. Whatever inscription that is on any other clothing isn’t your business. It’s just that simple.
When people relate with your brand, how do you want them to feel and how do you want to come across to them?
At Kunke’s Apparel, we want to ensure that people are entirely comfortable with wearing our clothing. That’s why we strive to be an inclusive brand, so as to ensure that there’s something for everyone when they visit our stores or decide to shop with us.
Also, we want to prove to other brands that being inclusive is very possible and very important and it doesn’t hurt at all if everyone is fully represented and given the opportunity to be themselves.
Can you tell us about the progress you have made so far with your brand?
I’ll say that I’ve gotten quite some positive responses so far since I started my brand. As an inclusive brand, the support I have gotten has been very encouraging from both members of the LGBT community in Nigeria and heterosexual persons, and every other person in fact.
As I mentioned earlier, my brand is all about making sure that there’s something available for everyone.
To learn more about Kunke’s Apparel, click HERE.