Ohimai Atafo, I guess you did’nt know the full name of the highly acclaimed Nigerian fashion designer and master of many trades, Mai Atafo. He is famous for his bespoke tailoring brand Mai Atafo Inspired and his wedding brand Mai Weddings. He has achieved so much success since his breakthrough into the fashion design world in 2007; you’d know the star is only the beginning for the master craftsman. Born Ohimai Atafo, in ile-ife, osun state,a native of Ora, Edo State, he spent most of his early life in the south western part of the country before travelling to the UK where he earned a masters in Information System and Technology.
Before finding his calling in fashion design, he had worked in the marketing department and as a brand manager for British American Tobacco Nigeria and Guinness Nigeria respectively.
Mai Atafo Inspired was started in 2007 and was very well received in the Nigerian market especially by celebrities and individuals from the higher echelon of the Nigerian social ladder. Between 2007 and 2010, he established the Mai Atafo Inspired brand while still working his 9-to-5. In 2010, he resigned from his job at Guinness Nigeria to focus fully on fashion designing.
“I started off making clothes for the love of clothes and now, I do more red carpet dresses for ladies and for guys, I do suits, shirts, jackets etc.”
Mai Inspired according to its website is an African premium fashion clothier brand, which focuses on well-tailored functional clothes for that special occasion. A certified Seville Row tailor, his designs are known to inspire aesthetics, luxury and for being fashion forward. He achieves every chef-d’œuvre through incorporating the traditional handcraft skills that underpin the excellence which Saville Row epitomises.
In 2010, Mai took another giant leap with the introduction of, Weddings by Mai,to cater to the entire wedding train including the Bridal gowns, Groom suits, Bridesmaid dresses, Groomsmen suites, Little bride’s dresses, and suit for the ring bearer; according to Mai, “The most glamorous dress you can make is a wedding dress”
His impeccable taste, and versatility comes into light with his fashion shows, were he is known to put all his energy and enthusiasm into creating a fashion extravaganza laden with impeccably dressed celebrities (usually dressed by Mai Atafo) and guests as opposed to regular fashion shows which according to him are boring.
“Fashion shows could be boring at times, models strutting the runway and all but what I thought to do was to put the clothes in their real environment, in their natural habitat with fabulous people coming together to help achieve this”.
In a 2013 interview with Y Naija, he was asked about the cost to be fitted in clothes from the Weddings by Mai collection. According to him, for males, suits cost in the range of 120,000 Naira upwards. For the females, wedding dresses cost in the range of 230,000 Naira upwards. But you should note, that was 4 years ago, and with the weakening of the naira, the prices will inevitably be different.“Now these kinds of services abroad are very expensive, so compared to that, what I offer is ridiculously cheap”
Mai Atafo Inspired boasts of a wide range of celebrity clientele, some of whom include; IK Osakioduwa (popular Big Brother anchor), D’Banj, Omowunmi Akinnifesi, Dakore Egbuson, Bez, Stella Damascus, 2Baba, Gbenro Ajibade, Ramsey Nouah, Uti Nwachukwu Munachi Abii, Stephanie Okereke and AdaezeIgwe, Banky W,Ebuka, M.I, Waje, Omawumi, Mercy Johnson, JJ Okocha, and many others.
“I love to see others wearing my stuff”
Mai Atafo is a man of many talents. In addition to Mai Atafo the fashion designer, he is a song writer, a screenwriter, creative content producer, advertising strategist,an event compere, and a community mentor. As the CEO and Creative Director of Mai Atafo Inspired, he is also the Strategy Director for an Advertising Agency; Firehouse Group, and he heads The Future Awards’ Central working committee. Confirming one of his works, he said
“Stay with me’ is my song and yes, I featured Waje and Praiz”
His talents have not gone unnoticed as he has been recognized around Africa for his contributions to the fashion industry. Mai has won numerous awards, some of which include; 2009 City People Fashion and Style “Special Recognition”, 2010 Covenant University “Redefining Fashion Contribution”, 2010 City People Fashion and Style “Hottest New Male Designer”, 2010 FAB Magazine “Fashion Brand of the Year”, 2010 Mode Men “Fashion Designer of the Year”, 2010 Mode Men “Best Dressed Man of the Year”, 2011 Allure “Most Stylish Man of the Year”, 2011 This day Style “Best Dressed Man”, and recently, the 2017 Glitz Style Awards “African Designer of the year”.
“Coming from a humble beginning, if somebody recognizes you for anything at all, the first thing you say is thank you”
Mai Atafo is an inspiration to all young Africans especially those who seek a career in fashion design. Hard work, a great business model, resilience, self-belief and his infectious smile have made him a house name and one of the most sought-after fashion designers in the African fashion industry. We love fashion and style, we love Mai Atafo, we Love stylemepurple.