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Tell me a bit about how the label was started. What was the inspiration?
Titi Adesa is a luxury footwear brand that was launched in August 2019. As an avid shoe lover, I've always been fascinated by the transformation that comes with wearing a good pair of heels, so I wanted to create a line for the contemporary woman with a youthful essence. I am also very passionate about conscious, circular fashion, which is why I created a brand that supports and empowers young African girls through sponsored education and mentorship. I wanted to have a message attached to my brand that women can be empowered by.
Growing up, my mother would always say to me, 'Within every woman, lies a diamond – unique, resilient and imperfectly perfect'. Those words stayed with me as I grew older, which is why I designed the rose gold logo as a tilted diamond – to embody the message that we women are indeed all diamonds and imperfectly perfect in our own way.
What is it that you love about design?
The endless possibilities of where design can take you is always very exciting. Shoes for me are also quite personal. I feel they can emotionally translate power and give you an instant confidence boost.
How were the initial products developed and what was the response?
The ‘why’ behind my designs are very important. When designing, I tend to draw from my culture first, because it’s part of who I am, and I love sharing my story through design. Nigeria and Africa as a whole have so much to draw from but I’m also inspired by my travels and architecture.
The idea was to create designs that communicate sophistication, so it's a blend of understated, elegant designs with an effortless twist on timeless shoe styles. S'oke was created from the shape of double, ascending curved stairs going 'Up', so I called them exactly that, in Yoruba. The response to our brand has actually been pretty fantastic. We launched with a showroom presentation of ten styles, which had positive reviews and our second collection was picked up by Level Shoes as an exclusive UAE retailer, which has been going pretty great. It's one thing to have a vision and another to bring it to life for people to experience and enjoy, so I feel immensely grateful to every customer that has bought a Titi Adesa pair so far!
What challenges did you face and how were they overcome when starting the business?
In the past year, the biggest change has been mastering the art of designing remotely, which has been beneficial in sharpening my creative skills. Initially though, the challenge was juggling a full-time Pharmacy career and creating the brand at the same time – that was definitely a big one. It took a lot of discipline to invest in myself to execute the vision.
I think not coming from a footwear background as well, was a gift and a curse. I didn't have any idea-limitations, which was a gift, however, executing those ideas in terms of technicality was difficult. I consistently pushed beyond limits and worked intensely with the factories on my days off to ensure that all my designs were as I envisioned. For example, Agra took six samples to finally get it right! The design is inspired by ceiling curves of a historical building in India called Agra Fort, and the curved proportions for the design were challenging to achieve. But now Agra is a customer favourite, so the journey is very rewarding.
What is it that sets you apart from your competitors?
Our conscious fashion DNA has been a differentiator to our peers. We all need to look at being consciously creative, in what we're making as well as in contributing to the well-being of our communities. I never wanted to create shoes just for the sake of adorning beautifully crafted footwear; I wanted to empower women too, which is why the brand birthed our 'TA Foundation'.
The aim is to empower young girls in underserved communities within Africa who aspire to build careers within the creative industry, through educational sponsorship and mentorship. For the past few months, we faced the worst of this pandemic, but the picture of education and its future still remains unknown within those communities. Our collections aim to use a percentage of our proceeds to positively contribute towards supporting these young girls to return to school, while staying healthy and safe.
How often do you launch new lines?
We launch one to two collections per year.
What are your current best-selling designs?
I would say our S'oke and Agra are our top best-sellers. I think the mule works incredibly well because of its unique and versatile design.Both styles are clean, sharp and can translate effortlessly from meetings to date night, for example. They look great with almost any outfit and with stockings too.
Why is the website and social media important to your business?
Social media is a powerful tool to connect our audience to our products so it's an essential piece of our business marketing strategy. There are very few channels that have such avast platform to increase brand awareness and, in turn, new clients.
What have been the key milestones in the business?
We've had a few amazing moments but launching at Level Shoes at the very start of our brand, was a very proud moment for the team.
How have you navigated COVID-19?
The biggest challenge has been balancing the need for adaptability in an ever-changing business and market while still ensuring the core elements of the brand remain a key focus. It's a balancing act for sure as we are still navigating through.
How do you view the current market and what trends, both in business and product, do you see emerging over the coming months?
I think the pandemic has certainly shifted the customer's view on trends. People are looking to invest in more meaningful pieces with sustainability at the forefront, which is a very exciting change.
What are your future plans for the business?
We're in the works to build a more tailored consumer experience with our DTC retail strategy, which I'm very excited about. We're also yielding to our client's footwear demands and lifestyle needs in terms of our style, so we have a few expansion plans in place to reach our client's needs more directly. The team and I are also working on enabling a full online Titi Adesa experience and some experiential activations for our TA women to enjoy, so I'm really looking forward to it all!
TITI ADESA | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.titiadesa.com