20-year-old Nigerian-American fashion designer, Chi Ilochi has loved fashion since she was seven-years-old! With her very own fashion line, the young aspiring designer aims to help, heal, and inspire others through her eye for fashion. Currently, Chi has made it her mission to specifically help those who struggle with mental illness, physical illness, and much more. Through her creative ability, Chi Ilochi has done just that and will continue to do so. We caught up with her to discuss her Nigerian roots in fashion, her brand StylingByChi, and much more.
Tell us what made you want to become a fashion designer.
I always dressed in wacky clothes and prints, and most people teased me for how I dressed. But I then began to realize as I got older that most people put down what has potential or value. From that revelation on I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. I knew I needed to put myself out there because I wanted all black girls and boys who are outcasts to feel welcomed, represented, and included. If I can do it, they can do it too and they can do it better!
How do you believe your Nigerian roots play a role in your designs?
I must say my creative influence is inspired by so much by Nigerian culture. The language I speak (Igbo), the food I eat (Fu-fu, Jollof Rice, Plantains, Moi Moi), the infrastructure, the movies, the accents, the people, the talent. I love it all. It is all very free-spirited and authentic, and I love that and hope that I can maintain a free and authentic spirit in all I am and all I create.
What makes your pieces from StylingByChi stand out amongst other brands?
I believe my style differs from other brands because of its authenticity and uniqueness. I believe anyone who views my work can see I give my all, and aim to display who I am and what I am through my styles.
Mental health is a topic that is important to you. Why would you say this is?
Mental health is important to me for one reason in particular. Before there was “StylingByChi” there was a nervous and anxious version of myself. A great friend (Anthony Miller an amazing Visual Artist) believed in me and pushed me to be the best I could. In 2017 he committed suicide, and from that point on I knew that I wanted to help, and heal others who struggle with mental illness through fashion and style. I wanted to “pay it forward” as they say.
What can we expect to see from you and your brand in the future?
You can expect to see celebrity styling, community styling, fashion shows, magazines, and hopefully styling sessions for children in Nigeria.
All images by Donna Ilochi