From K Street to Baltimore, the buzz about Ebong Eka’s new pret-a-porter line of men’s suits and separates has the Beltway in a frenzy. Ebong, who made Washingtonian magazine’s Best Dressed list in 2007, recently launched his clothing line, Mi Chiamo Eka (Italian for “My name is Eka”) on August 5th at the DC hotspot, K Street Lounge. Ebong, philanthropist turned designer’s star-studded launch party brought Washington socialites out for a night of fashion, charity and cocktails. The buzz about Mi Chiamo Eka is not all fluff. In just ten days, Ebong has previewed his collection at three different shows and events and has received media accolades from the Washington Post, DC Style Magazine and bloggers around the Beltway. Sasha Horne, guest writer for The Glamazon Diaries, sat down with Ebong Eka, the Renaissance man, to find out more about how and why he started Mi Chiamo Eka and what is in store for the future.
By day he’s a CPA working 9-5 at a Northern Virginia firm. By night he’s a high-end menswear designer taking Washington by storm.
From the Washington Post and Washingtonian Magazine to DC Style Magazine and Capitol File, Ebong Eka and his pret-a-porter line, Mi Chiamo Eka, has been featured across the beltway.
“I’ve been into fashion my entire life,” said Eka who was born & raised in Toronto, Canada to Nigerian parents.
“Clothing says a lot about you,” Eka explained. “This is why you wear your best suit to an interview. I learned at a very young age that most communication is nonverbal, so to take control of the perception others had of me, I spent time focusing on my look, being consistent and building a personal brand.”
Eka, who moved to Europe in his early twenties to play professional basketball, sites his time abroad as inspiration for many of his designs.
“At 24, right out of college, I moved to England and it was an incredible experience because it gave me the opportunity to learn about other cultures and fashions,” said Eka.
In 2005, frustrated with the lack of fashionable clothing to fit his 6’5 frame, Eka began sketching designs and creating his own suits in a style he described as European inspired.
After several years of receiving compliments and inquiries on where he purchased his custom made clothing, a friend introduced Eka to a tailor. The sketches on the pad and the suits in Eka’s closet came to fruition, and Mi Chiamo Eka was born.
Eka’s clothing line hit the ground running with the AW08 debut at K Street Lounge early this month. The much buzzed about fashion show featured some of Washington’s most eligible bachelor’s walking the runway in Eka’s signature designs.
Eka’s love of fashion coupled with his belief in sharing success and giving back to the community was evident at the swanky affair. Eka donated a portion of the event proceeds to The Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund which has helped send more than 900 D.C. public high school students to college.
“The Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund was founded 13 years ago as a way to provide resources for disadvantaged students in Washington,” said Eka. “I’ve volunteered in a variety of ways in the past and their mission is very important, so I found it fitting to take this opportunity to raise money and awareness for the organization.”
Although the initial launch is over, post-launch, Eka’s phone just hasn’t stopped ringing.
The long days and sleepless nights that Eka described leading up to the launch can be thought of as only a small dose of what lies ahead in his future.
“After the launch, I began receiving calls from people inviting me to participate in their shows,” Eka said.
Mi Chiamo Eka was featured in the Washington Area Concierge Association fashion show and most recently, the Echelon Life & Maserati of Baltimore’s annual Drive 2 Thrive held last weekend honoring Project Runway’s Christian Siriano
So as Mi Chiamo Eka continues to put DC on the fashion map, Eka’s innovative concept of allowing the consumer to be a part of the garment making process is just the beginning.
When asked what’s next for the brand, Eka says he is currently working to make his designs available globally by introducing online shopping as well as the launch of a Spring 09 collection.
“I am involved in the process every step of the way, from the design to reviewing fabric samples and textures,” said Eka. “I pay attention to details, and my goal is to take standard or conservative clothes and make them more versatile.”
With custom designed menswear, and a business model that focuses on the consumer first, Ebong Eka poses the following question to prospective clients, “What do you want your image to say about you?”