Founder and creative director, Daniel Diyepriye has a goal in mind – to build a brand that will stand out amongst the rest. And while his start in the designer clothing business wasn’t conventional, he knows exactly where his journey is going to take him next.
The African luxury fashion segment is expected to reach $1 billion in 2023, according to market research company Statista. Jeremy Nel, Managing Director of South African-based luxury marketing firm, Luxury Brands, reportedly estimates that there are over 160,000 millionaires in Africa with a combined spending power of about $700 billion. These millionaires want the very best and are willing to spend top dollar when it comes to fashion.
“Louis Vuitton just got a market cap of $500 billion and Shell’s market cap is nowhere near that. Imagine a world where African luxury becomes a lot more lucrative than oil? That would completely transform the African continent and that is why I want to be a big player in this space,” says Daniel Diyepriye, founder and creative director of what he hopes to be Africa’s first luxury fashion house, Daniel Diyepriye.
Diyepriye is not wrong. With the over-reliance on oil and gas by most African countries, especially Nigeria, its largest economy, he may actually be on to something.
The eponymous brand, which launched just before Covid-19 wreaked havoc all over the world, pays homage to the legacy of his late father who epitomized elegance and class. He passed away during the pandemic following complications from a stroke he suffered when Diyepriye was just 14 years old.
Back then, the dream was not fashion but simply, finding a way to support his mother, who was now the primary caretaker of her paralyzed husband and their three children.
“I dropped out of university in my first year. I had to make money for the family and I felt that I had to take the responsibility to provide. I thought it was going to be five or six years before I made money from what they were teaching me in university and I could not wait that long,” recalls Diyepriye.
That is when he became a serial entrepreneur. At first, he took over a modelling agency called Lethal Model Management when he was 21 years old. He then moved on to buying and selling sneakers before transitioning into a car rental business, which he still manages today. The business focuses on renting smart cars for under a pound an hour.
“The name of the company is called SmartMove Car [Hire]. We took some investment, and we run a membership model. Sainsbury’s backed us and allowed us to put our cars in their parking lots so customers can take the car from one Sainsbury’s [store] to the other. But I needed to make a business that could scale because the problem with car rental companies is that when all your cars are rented out, you stop making money,” says Diyepriye.
After the death of his father in 2019, Diyepriye and his brother – who, sadly, also passed away last year due to a heart condition – decided that a luxury fashion business would be the best way to honor him.
“I got my flair from my dad. He used to always wear nice suits. The heritage is to honor my father and it means everything we do has to honor who he was, from the quality of our products and everything we say as a brand,” says Diyepriye.
His eureka moment for his signature brand, coincidentally, also came from his father.
“Me and my dad used to play with jigsaw [puzzles] and he always used to tell me that the jigsaw relates to patience, attention to detail and trying to see the bigger picture. I had an epiphany one day that it would be really cool to put a jigsaw on a bag. And that is what has become our signature look.”
Diyepriye taught himself design and learned how to use all the software applications he needed to make his creations come to life, in order to bootstrap the company and grow it organically.
With the help of influencers to get the word out, the brand was launched with £10,000 ($12,000) he made from his car rental business. Soon after launching, Diyepriye made the decision to focus on the United States (US) market due to the volume of orders they received from there.
“Till date, we have done about $500,000 in revenue and a lot of that money has gone back into the brand. The first tackle for us was validating luxury to say that this bag is luxury regardless of who it is made by. We use materials that fast fashion brands won’t and can’t use,” he says.
As far as Diyepriye is concerned, most of the founders spearheading European luxury fashion houses are men but when it comes to Africa, there is no one male fashion mogul dominating the luxury fashion scene. His goal is to take advantage of this first-mover position and evolve his brand into the Daniel Diyepriye Group, where similar to the LVMH family, he will also be able to launch and acquire other ancillary brands to become a billion-dollar fashion house.
Like many sectors in Africa, technology is providing a platform for the luxury fashion industry to leapfrog archaic infrastructure and scale rapidly. As a result, online stores and social media have provided a platform for the Diyepriye brand to carve out its presence in the industry in the space of only three years. With that in mind, who knows what the future might hold?