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Meeting him on Kampala’s Luwum Street, Kenny Omar doesn’t strike you as extraordinary amongst the hubbub of the occasional Sunday sale that takes place weekly. The street is blocked from all traffic on that particular day in order for the sale to run smoothly. With his immaculately organized attire; well fitted trousers, tucked in shirt and loosely hanging tie, he still manages to stand out amongst the crowd by giving the impression of someone who is sophisticated, elegant and therefore, out of place amongst the milieu of local salesmen and potential buyers.

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Omar is amongst a handful of Ugandans who studied piloting at college; it had always been his dream. However, the future dictated otherwise. EagleOnline’s Isaiah Tashobya had a chat with Omar.

 

So Why Fashion?

Omar: I’ve always dreamt of flying a plane but when I finished university I could not find any work or employment. And I’ve always had interest in fashion, but I took it up as a hobby at that time and when I realized I could earn money and  make a living out of it I decided to be serious about it: so I took it up as a career.

Was that when OG Apparrell was born?

Omar: Yes, that was when I decided to focus entirely on this franchise. There wasn’t much else for me to do.

 And how have you provided for Uganda’s fashion industry?

Omar: I consider myself a service provider. Here in Uganda OG Apparel is a bespoke tailoring service. What this mainly entails is that you order what type of suit or dress you want and what it should look like and we provide it for you. You don’t have to walk days on end on Kampala’s streets looking for something that you might not find. We can provide it for you, even right at your doorstep.

And how have you found the fashion Industry so far? Is it intriguing?

Omar: Tough, especially for an upcoming fashion designer like me. But on the other hand it is also interesting. I’ve learnt a lot through the hardships I’ve faced.

And what is that goal?

Omar: I aim or hope to open a proper clothing store one day, probably in a place like Village Mall in Bugolobi. This is just a workshop (he says gesturing around the small compact room), then from there I’ll see what the next stop will be.

Why would I want to buy your creations? Why not just go to the first store I see, say Winna Classic! And buy myself a garment. What is so special about your designs?

Omar: First of all, how much are the clothes at Winna Classic or Woolworths? Secondly, do you really get what you want? Here our clothes, like suits for men are at reasonable prices, you can bargain between the range of Shs900,000 to Shs250,000 depending on the material you want and the amount of creativity involved. And I always give the customer what they want, designing their clothes down to the very last detail that they describe to me.

 

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Where do you get these materials that you use to make these clothes?

Omar: We get our materials from downtown-specifically from Fashion House-Eagle Plaza, Luwum Street, as well as Shina Textiles.

Do you see yourself ever going back to pursuing your dream of being a pilot?

Omar: I am definitely changing my career and going back to pursue my first love of being a pilot. This should happen in about three years’ time at most. What I’m doing right now is a skill and I can always carry it on despite what else I take up in the near future.

And how can you describe the fashion Industry in Uganda?

Omar: It’s tough, in that it is very competitive: so many upcoming and good/creative designers. Therefore, it is not easy to make a name for yourself here; this is mainly because there aren’t enough platforms to give you exposure. Maybe apart from the recently introduced Kampala Fashion Week brought about by Gloria Wavamuno. That is why the fashion scene in a place say like Europe is highly advanced due to many more platforms for designers to exhibit their works. But then again we aren’t so bad compared to other African countries like Tanzania.

What has this journey been like for you?

Omar: It’s been both interesting and challenging. I’m up by5am and work till 12am because there is always tons of work to do, deadlines to meet … but I like it and the challenges I face only serve to push me further.

What is your client base like?

 

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Omar: Before it mainly consisted of just young adults, but now it comprises of all age groups, mostly individuals who are planning to get married.

And where do you see OG Apparel in a few years time? Do you plan on establishing this line further still or do you want to leave it entirely and focus on becoming a pilot instead?

Omar: Even after I leave and chase that dream, OG Apparel should still go on: so many people like and appreciate the services I provide, so I see no reason to close shop when it is still needed. I have workmates who are skilled enough to keep this franchise active.

Thank you so much for your time! Any last words?

Omar: Always work hard, believe in yourself and stay humble.