Eleven Sixteen Unveiled: Ugo Mozie's Fusion of Tradition and Innovation

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From his humble beginnings in Enugu, Nigeria, to the bustling fashion scenes of New York and Hollywood, Ugo Mozie's journey is a testament to creativity, resilience, and a deep-rooted connection to his Nigerian heritage. From styling A-list celebrities like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Justin Bieber to serving as the PR director for fashion icon Vivienne Westwood at a very young age, Mozie is a well-established authority in the fashion and styling Industry. Now, with the launch of his pioneer label, Eleven Sixteen, Mozie continues to push boundaries, redefining African fashion with his unique blend of tradition and innovation. In this exclusive interview, we discuss Mozie’s extraordinary journey, exploring his early influences, his vision for the future of African fashion, and what role Eleven Sixteen aims to play in this future.

Deeds: Your journey with fashion started quite early. Could you tell us how you got about starting your first fashion line in 2009?

Ugo M: Yes. I started designing my clothes when I was about 14 years old. I was living in Houston, Texas, and the style I was accustomed to was not available there. So, I started making my clothes for myself by using things I’ll find around by cutting things up and remaking stuff. Then I moved to New York at 17 and launched my first brand, Aston Mozie, with my then-business partner, Quinn Aston. At that time, there wasn't much representation for upcoming designers, so the brand gained attention quickly. This experience also introduced me to the world of styling, as I began advising celebrities on how to wear my designs. Well if you're gonna buy this shirt, make sure you wear it with these kinds of pants and these kinds of shoes, and just like that, that advice ended up leading to me styling these talents and building a career as a Fashion Stylist as well.

Deeds: You often mention the importance of dressing for yourself. What exactly do you mean by that?

Ugo M: Dressing for yourself means being inspired by your own experiences and identity. That's really how Trends are created. Authenticity and uniqueness are crucial in any form of art, including fashion. For me, drawing inspiration from my Nigerian heritage and personal memories creates designs that resonate deeply with people. For example, when I was like 17-18 years old designing, I was designing inspired by my trips to Nigeria, and the things I wore as a kid that my mom would get for us.

Deeds: That's a powerful message. Moving on, your role as the PR director for Vivian Westwood was a significant opportunity. How did this shape your career trajectory?

Ugo M: Working at Vivian Westwood exposed me to the inner workings of the fashion industry on a global scale. It allowed me to build a strong network and understand the dynamics off fashion PR and marketing. This experience provided invaluable insights that I now apply to my various ventures, from styling to designing. I went to Saint John's University in Queens, and I studied advertising and PR while I was there. So being able to get a job at Vivian Westwood and apply the knowledge I learned in school was very fulfilling.

Deeds: Let's talk about your latest venture, Eleven Sixteen. What sets it apart from other brands, and what can we expect from its launch?

Ugo M: Eleven Sixteen is a culmination of my experiences in fashion over the past 15 years. It aims to redefine African fashion by incorporating traditional fabrics into modern silhouettes. The brand represents a shift towards authenticity and inclusivity, challenging the stereotypes associated with African clothing. It is my debut label and it launched on April 5th in Lagos, Nigeria. I have a Factory in Lagos called the UMIN that I own with my cousin and we have been running this company for the past 10 years, what we do is we produce and manufacture clothing for ourselves for our clients and for other brands and designers that need production for clothes and their brand for 10, we were Out sourcing and working with other brands and it's like doing one-off collaborations.

Deeds: Your dedication to promoting African textiles is evident. Can you elaborate on your engagement with local artisans and how it reflects your connection to Nigeria?

Ugo M: Utilizing locally sourced textiles, such as Aso Oke, allows me to highlight the craftsmanship and heritage of Nigerian artisans. It's about reclaiming our narrative and showcasing the richness of African culture on a global stage. When anyone thinks of African clothing African wear, they usually assume, you know, bright textures big bold patterns, and prints bold confident colors, which is a very major part of African fashion, but I realized that with control of weaving and being able to create my patterns and my fabric I can change the Narrative of what people think African fashion is. I wanted to create a brand that was designed and made in Africa, with African fabrics, but made for the world. I wanted to create a brand that can sit amongst all the other high fashion brands and people can wear it and not feel like they're in costume. Like today when a white person is thinking about what all Africans wear, they're already ready to be in costume, to be on a theme, they know this is a temporary thing. They're maybe going to an event. With Eleven Sixteen I want to make African wear not a costume, not a theme. I want to make it every day relatable so that anybody from any country can wear an African outfit and feel like themselves and not feel like oh, I'm just African today. Deeds: Looking ahead, what upcoming projects surrounding Eleven Sixteen are you particularly excited about?

Ugo M: We have plans for a full brand launch later this year, along with collaborations and partnerships that will further amplify the brand's message. Additionally, we're exploring opportunities to showcase Eleven Sixteen during major fashion weeks. The event we did in Lagos this past two weeks was our soft launch. That was our pre-intro to the brand. We're going to be activating during Paris Fashion Week, and Milan Fashion Week, and then we have our full brand launch that's going to take place in Los Angeles at the end of the year. So right now we're just preparing the collection. What we showed was a preview collection. This is all a preview, the main Global launch is going to be done toward the end of this year. So that's what we're preparing for Eleven Sixteen.

Deeds: How do you envision the future of African fashion evolving, and what role do you hope to play in its development?

Ugo M: I see African fashion becoming more industrialized, with brands gaining recognition on a global scale. My role is to be a leader in this space, guiding young designers and advocating for inclusivity and authenticity. I want to use my platform to empower and inspire the next generation of African creatives.

Deeds: Thank you so much for sharing your insights, Ugo. It's been a pleasure having this conversation with you. Congratulations again on the launch of your brand, and we're excited to see where your journey takes you.

Ugo M: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.


An Eleven Exclusive Story starring Ugo Mozie

Art director/stylist: Alioune Badara Fall

Producer: Eniafe Momodu

Photography: Akanni Babajide

Models: Alioune Badara Fall, Damilare Saka, Jeff Ugiomoh, Juwon Wusu, KelvinAnagbogu

Wardrobe assistant: Nonso Nwaobu

Photo assistant: Henry Okwubuasi