“I used to go to my mother’s sewing machine and play with the knobs,” recalls Chizoba Udeh-Martin, of her first passion for sewing.
As Cher Horowitz would say, Chizoba is like an absolutely important designer. In fact, the lead designer of the made-to-order fashion brand based in Toronto, Zoba Martin.
Her earliest memories of fashion design date back to her childhood in Nigeria, when she watched her aunt design and sew her wedding dress from scratch. Chizoba says her experience planted the seeds for her to one day become a full-fledged designer.
She remembers that her aunt had bought “several yards of white satin fabric” and Chizoba, as a young man, watched the whole process with curiosity and charm.
Before launching her own label in 2016, she worked as an alteration specialist for Kleinfeld, who was admired by her work in bridal gowns. There, she decided that she would be called upon to design her clothes.
While her designs aren’t exclusively bridal, it’s her favorite occasion to design for. She describes the process as “intimate,” feeling honored to create dream dresses for her clients on one of their most memorable occasions.
“My goal is to create elegant pieces that celebrate every individual who wears Zoba Martin,” says the designer.
I discovered Chizoba at Startup Fashion Week, in 2019, where she was showing a small prêt-à-porter collection. I was drawn to her excessive use of millennial pink and sparkling tulle.
Audience members were given a small white bottle of soap bubbles, like the ones they give to excited children at weddings to keep them entertained. The crowd was blown away by Chizoba’s exaggerated silhouettes and creative imagination.
Chizoba has a way to make you feel special, whether it’s creating the dress of your dreams, or giving you a bottle of bubbles and taking you away to her fashion fairytale.
Despite delighting in ready-to-wear, Chizoba prefers the sustainable aspect of custom and made-to-order pieces for its clientele. She is sure that her bespoke pieces have an emotional value and will most likely be preserved and passed down for generations.
Of the care and time he devotes to each drawing, he jokes: “You’d think I’m the one wearing the dress.”
Chizoba hopes that we will move beyond the shameful association with being a dress repeater (to the Lizzie McGuire), touted by the consumer and fast fashion industry.
Encourage those looking for luxury fashion and evening wear to “consider having something tailored for you, be more aware of what you wear and what pieces you are investing in.”
Well aware of the environmental toll, the fashion waste problem weighs heavily on her heart. The average Canadian consumer throws out 81 pounds of non-biodegradable fabrics a year (damn!).
Chizoba’s effects change through meaningful, personalized pieces that her clients will wear over and over and then move on to. This would have a huge impact when you consider the fact that Canadians buy, on average, 70 new items of clothing a year.
In 2022, sustainable fashion isn’t exactly hot fashion, and most designers with a sustainable approach miss the safe side of fashion. We all know we can get high bases, but who exactly is getting excited about a $ 80 organic cotton t-shirt in soft mauve?
Zoba Martin’s brand makes fashion sustainable, slower, funnier, luxurious and feminine.
Prior to the pandemic, Chizoba was in the process of opening its storefront in Toronto, a dream that has since been suspended. Always optimistic, she says the pandemic has built his character and that he has “spent a lot of quiet and creative time since spring 2020”.
He still dreams of opening his shop in Toronto, with an atelier in the back and another in Nigeria: “My goal for 2022 is to grow the Zoba Martin brand”.
“If you are looking for someone to create a one-of-a-kind piece for you, contact me. I always take my time with every single client I work with. I design pieces that reflect the personality of my clients and accentuate their beauty ”.