Everyone has unique tastes in fashion and getting to know and understand that helps us to co-exist peacefully, respecting each other’s choices
About unique tastes in fashion, meet Seyi “Seyi Babs” Babalola and explore his fashion style. He’s an author of 5 books, a writing Educator and an Agric technologist. Seyi Babs is a twin born in no man’s land (Lagos) and schooled in the North and South respectively.
What comes to your mind when you hear “fashion”?
The first thing that hits my mind on hearing the word “fashion” is “lifestyle”. To me, one’s fashion is one’s lifestyle.
What’s your idea of a perfect fashion style?
I’ll say a good fashion style rather than a perfect fashion style. Now, follow me, on a rainy day, with a cup of coffee in your hand, when it feels the earth has stopped revolving for a second, and your lover is right beside you, all looks perfect. On such a day, a “perfect” fashion style would for me be corporate, suits and tie, looking all formal.
Fashion is a lifestyle and lifestyle is the stronger of the two because it somewhat dictates fashion.Seyi Babs
For what I do, dressing in corporate (the white men’s attire) is what could be close to perfect for me. That’s my ideal look. I’m never not wearing shoes. A crisp button-down shirt, well-ironed pants and a good punk haircut. You likey?
How has your exposure to diverse cultures impacted your fashion style?
You know this saying that goes, “when you’re in Rome you behave like the Romans?” It’s true. But what happens when you’re out of Rome and you’ve for long behaved like a Roman? Truthfully, my exposure to diverse cultures didn’t one bit change my initial configuration, Hausa.
Each time I try to, it just doesn’t gel. Little wonder, a lot of my Yoruba friends still say I talk, dress and live like a Hausa man. I lived most of my life with the Northerners and my exposure to other cultures did very little to suppress the Northerner in me.
Can you give us a short insight into the Hausa fashion culture?
This feels like the first question of an African Civilization exam, let’s do it! Well, from the surface, I think the reason why Hausas dress the way they do is because of their pre-European history.
When you mention Hausa dressing for male, the first thing that comes to the mind of 9 out of 10 people is Babanriga. While this is correct, it’s important to note that there’s a direct nexus between the Hausa people’s dressing and their religious beliefs. You can see why I say that lifestyle affects fashion?
Relating it to myself, my fashion is tied to my lifestyle as well. The Hausa lady doesn’t just dress because that’s the available clothing. In fact, it is believed that in a poor Hausa settlement, apart from the cows, the most expensive thing is clothing. They cherish it. I cherish it. They dress for specific reasons. I do too.
You told us a little about Hausa’s fashion history, what’s your fashion history?
If you see my childhood picture, you’d think I was forced to dress. Well I was, till I began to make my choices. Basically, Pastor’s kids would wear suits almost always, except during special occasions like Thanksgiving, naming ceremonies et al. So, I almost would wear suits even to ride my bicycle at home.
But getting to the North, I began to wear their Baban rigas and Jalamiyas. Then I became a writer. And I needed to attend talks, conferences and seminars. I sure couldn’t wear my native attires. I would need to go to school before I got my uniform and it couldn’t be native. Suddenly, my work and school began to dictate what I wore. And what used to be worn on normals (the natives) soon became an attire for events.
Did you notice the evolution? At first, native were for specials. Then midway, corporate wears the specials. Right now, native is for specials and suits are the normal.
Dressing is the major stakeholder in the fashion stock.Seyi Babs
You’re a twin, did that in any way affect your fashion style? The whole having to wear matching clothes and all
Yeah. It did, you know. But rather than limit me, it taught me to carry people along and I think that’s really cool.
What’s the craziest way you’ve dressed?
Note that it’s crazy because it was first and perhaps last time I’ll look like that. Now, close your eyes and picture me in your mind’s eye. I’m wearing crazy jeans with a white pair of canvas, my white tee is very tight and my face cap is backwards. Not crazy at all.
What’s your fashion pet peeve?
Well, I respect all fashion sense, so none, I have none.
Who’s your fashion icon and why do they stand out?
I’m not sure there’s one person. But if I’m to pick just one person, I’ll be stuck between the ash-shirt Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama of the US.
What’s that one fashion thing you like but may never get?
Tattoos. Just tattoos. Big bold tattoos. But then I won’t be eligible to donate blood and that unsettles me.
Can you give us a virtual tour of your closet?
There’s nothing much to see, just corporates atirres you can’t count and natives you can count.