LOVERS of quality fabrics and expert designs in and around Abuja may no longer have to travel to Lagos or beyond. With the coming of the popular Lagos-based fashion designer, Kenny Jones to town, both old and new clients can now save their time and resources while still enjoy value for their money. The Abuja ultra-modern showroom, located around the ever busy Wuse 2, was officially declared opened recently to cater for clients who desire to be trendy. As expected, the unveiling ceremony attracted old and prospective customers, families and friends, who gave personal accounts of how the calm-looking but highly talented designer with eyes for details impacted their fashion sense.
Experts in kaftan, suits and other corporate and casual wears, Kenny Jones is the brain behind the smart looks and quality fabrics of some high profile Nigerians, comprising politicians, clergy and members of the corporate community. Some of his clients include the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, The President of Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo, General Overseer, Kingsway International Christian Center (KICC), Pastor Mathew Ashimolowo, Regional Evangelist, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Johnson Tomisin Kalejaiye and General Overseer, Guiding Light Assembly, Pastor Wale Adefarasin, among numerous others. the list of Nigerian leaders who are his clients in a very long one!
Kenny’s journey into the world of fashion began way back in 1992 in Lagos State, South West, Nigeria, with the incorporation of his Signature Company – Kenny Jones Designers. Since then, the Executive Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kehinde Jones, popularly known as Kenny, has built a fashion trademark for himself through attention to details both in the choice of fabrics and exquisite designs. Some of his clients who were present at the ceremony described Kenny’s designs as a signature that stands out in the crowd.
“Kenny Jones is a brand that has made a great statement through fashion”, says Bisi Allen. And after praise and worship were offered to God, the symbolic opening of the showroom was conducted by Reverend Isaac Ambeh of the Villa Chapel. In his brief remarks, he described Kenny as a co-creator with God, whose works will always distinguish him in the crowd.
Other side attractions at the evening event include a musical performance by the Oye Twins, who have traveled down from Lagos to share in Kenny’s joy. The twins, who are part of Kenny Jones brand ambassadors, identified the simplicity of styles and durability of fabrics as some of the distinguishing qualities of Kenny Jones Designs.
As brand ambassadors who are dressed by Kenny, they noted that they can go the extra mile to celebrate him whenever the occasion demands.
“We are his brand ambassadors and as such, we have no option than to support the brand.
“You may find his styles very simple but when you look at the materials and the finishing, you will know that they are not ordinary.
“It takes a gut to wear his brand. Even when you don’t have a kobo in your pocket, you will feel like a rich man because they will look nice on you.
So, we usually tell his clients not to go out when they wear his designs without some cash in their pockets. This is because people will definitely tax them”, says one of the twins.
Kenny’s Model, Afolayan Wale Efosa, was also present at the ceremony. He stated that when it comes to perfect finishing, detailing and clothing that encompasses a range of demography in terms of clientele, it should be left entirely for Kenny Jones.
“His finishing is second to none. With Kenny Jones, Kaftans enjoy a top-notch finishing and detailed designs. He will just do something for you out of this world”.
Speaking on Kenny’s passion for quality of fabrics, Efosa explained why clients hardly bring their fabrics to Kenny Jones Designs:
“As his client, you don’t have to bother yourself carrying your fabrics to him. This is because they will not win. He has top-notch fabrics that when you get to his showroom, you will discover that you have no need for bringing yours.
“He has a classy taste. He tests his fabrics with fire, and he travels all over the world to get the best in terms of quality fabrics. He is unbeatable. I have not seen anything like that”, he added.
Amazingly, Kenny is also famous for not taking measurements of his clients like conventional designers do. He just looks at a client and understands his or her size.
A tour of the new showroom revealed heaps of fabrics as well as already made designs. For him, efforts devoted to making his designs should not be wasted on sub-standard fabrics – the reasons for his insistence on providing fabrics for his clients.
The Magazine later had a chat with Kenny on issues relating both to the event of the day, as well as to the industry. Excerpts are reproduced below:
Kenny Jones Fashion started in 1999 in Lagos, why did it take you over two decades to open a showroom in Abuja?
I discovered that most of our customers are outside Abuja. About 80 percent of them come to Lagos to buy what they want to use in Abuja. They either shop abroad or in Lagos and each time they need us, they call on us on the phone. So, I felt that we should also come to Abuja at the appropriate time. About two years ago, we planned to come; we prayed over it and waited until God asked us to move. Some of my friends have been inviting me but I told them I was yet to hear from God. It was a few months ago that we decided to move.
What distinguishes your designs from numerous others in town?
I can say it is hard work. I work 24 hours a day, but it is not by my power. It is God’s. Some of my clients sometimes wondered if I am normal. The reason is that they have been sewing clothes before meeting me but whenever they wear my design, people stopped to ask them questions about the fabrics and the designs. One of my clients sent for me. He stated that whenever he wore any of the three clothes I made for him, people stopped him on the way. “I wore clothes yesterday, two days ago, why is it that it is today I wore your own that people stopped me? He asked. When people call Kenny Jones, at times, I wonder who this man really is. Again, it is all God’s work”.
Is it true you sew without taking measurements?
Yes, that is true. Once I look at a customer, I know his or her size. The man who gave that testimony was talking from experience. Besides not taking the measurement, clients stand out in our designs. People always ask who gave me the talent and I tell them it is God because no one receives anything except God gives him.
Considering the status of your clients, can people of lower financial class afford your clothing?
I sew for everybody – pastors, politicians, corporate individuals. I just showed us the sample of my fabrics in the showroom. The level of effort we put in making our fabrics makes the difference. It is compared to when a company wants to construct or assemble a Toyota car, Mercedes Benz, Limousine, Honda or Nissan. Do you know how many of these cars can be produced in the course of building only one Rolls-Royce? So, when we look at our designs and how our clients wear them with joy, we feel satisfied. Whenever they want to go for important occasions, they ask for Kenny Jones. Again, it is by the grace of God.
You should be mentoring young-in-fashion business, how would you describe their response?
That is a big issue. The younger generations think they are smarter than you are. They don’t want to work 24 hours but they want a result of 24 hours’ work. These days, people don’t want to spend effort on anything. What they want is money. Unlike our father Solomon, (in the Bible) who asked for wisdom and was blessed with both wisdom and riches, these young ones would have asked for wealth.
You prefer using your fabrics for clients, what are your reasons?
If you want to build a house and the foundation was not solid, the house will not last. You want to put your effort, sometimes, when you want to buy a bungalow and feel like adding a block, you will invite experts to test the soil. If it is not solid you would be advised not to put further blocks on it. So, if you want to put an effort, you should do so on good quality fabric. Some- times when I see the way people sew Ankara material, it will look so beautiful that people can hardly believe it is Ankara. I spend so many hours making one cloth and I cannot afford to put such effort on poor quality fabric.
Your advice to emerging designers?
They should avoid the guesswork approach to business. Where we are getting these fabrics abroad, we usually ask them how they arrive at such quality, and they will tell us that the business was from their grandfathers. One way to succeed in life is to look back at what your father did well. But most children feel they don’t have time for what their parents did. They prefer the guesswork approach to business. Guess business is based on a guess. They think that if you give them N5million now, they will use it this way or that way, but by the time you give them the money, they discover that they don’t have any idea about the business. They end up squandering the money.
Most of them feel that following their fathers’ footsteps is a waste of time. That is where we have a serious challenge. That is where we have a problem. So, the problem is not with me. I stay awake throughout the night but if you tell any of the younger ones to do so, they will ask if you want to kill them. I travel from one country to another looking for fabrics for more than two weeks at a stretch. So, how can you tell somebody to undertake that kind of journey? They will ask if you want to kill them. “Do you want to kill me? That is always their question. But my advice is that there are no two ways to success. They should pay attention to the details.
Kenny As A Gospel Artist
To spice up the day, the fashion designer cum gospel artist thrilled the audience in the company of his twin brother, Taye Jones, with their joint album – God Bless Nigeria. The album, aptly titled, is both a prayer for Nigeria as well as a call for patriotism among Nigerians.
The artists felt that since the greatness of the country will no doubt, trickle on the citizens, it behooves on everyone, not only to pray for the country but also to be committed to its greatness in words and in deeds.
According to Kenny who spoke for himself and the brother, the first album was launched on their 40th birthday and another when they clocked 45 as twin brothers. He said: “We should know where we are coming from. All of us will get to that stage when we have to pray for Nigeria. When you go to America, you join them to pray for their country – God bless America.
“Even when you don’t want to say it, you wouldn’t know when you join them to say so. Today, we have sung God bless Nigeria. Most Nigerians have never said ‘God bless Nigeria’.
“It is good to wake up and pray to God to bless Nigeria because there is power in the tongue. If you go to auto shops in America, you will see their flags hung on their cars. They parade their flags as wears but in Nigeria, our people are not trained to be proud of our country and pray for it.”
However, while they shared their musical talent, that of fashion is exclusive for Kenny.
When asked if his brother was equally a fashion designer, Kenny answered promptly:
“No. We are together only in music. Music is not something we learn. We don’t train in it. Our father was a Prophet. So, we were brought up in the church.
“We go to church early in the morning every day. We released the album when we clocked 40 and another when we clocked 45.”