interview: meet fashion designer andrea “kitschai” ushendo

December 13, 2013

Andrea “Kitschai” Ushendo is founder of cutting edge label Kitschai. The London-born Nigerian designer has been receiving plenty of positive attention for her newest and utterly whimsical line, Unicorns and Bullet Wounds, a collection inspired by West African Safari. The line incorporates PVC, animal textures and bold animal prints. She is fast becoming a favourite amongst fashionistas and fashion lovers alike, across the globe. Her designs are a perfect fusion of bold, costume theatrics and chic, progressive attire that you can wear straight off the rack. Kitschai is not for the safe and unimaginative, but for women who wish to make a self-assured statement whenever they step out.

Interview by Ayara Pommells, AFROPUNK Contributor *

Tell us a bit about Kitschai.

Kitschai is the name of my emerging brand that consists of everything visually artistic. It has no specific meaning, but serves multiple purposes. Kitschai; being in love with something unusual.

When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

This might sound weird but I never actually wanted to be a designer. In secondary school I studied a textiles subject, then went on to do a Fashion Design diploma at college, but once I hit University, I knew I wanted to study Fashion, which I did, but just not design. Though I enjoyed creating, making clothes wasn’t really something I had a strong interest in and at that point I didn’t really understand that a Fashion Designer COULD decide to only design and not physically make the clothes, so I kind of lost interest in designing/making clothes. More recently, I’d say a year ago, I just realised that I had a buildup of designs in my ‘notebook’ (a secret book of mine stacked with ideas/poetry) and thought, ‘You know what, why not’ and just like that, I started researching manufacturers, international fastening companies and sourcing fabric from London to Africa. So to answer your question briefly, I’d say… never.

Has design always come easy to you?

Designing has always been a strong point of mine, I love to create. I’m constantly coming up with ideas, regardless of how whacky or silly they may be, my mind is forever occupied with something I want to bring to life. I wouldn’t say design comes easy to me, it’s more something I do without realising, and creating is just a part of my general thought process.

Who were your inspirations in fashion growing up?

I loved Sisqo and Kelis. I guess they inspired me by being themselves, I know that fashion is art, art is a form of self expression, so anybody who does that with ease and joy, is an inspiration to me. Above all that, the great Salvador Dali is my biggest inspiration of all time.

How much of a direct influence are your Nigerian roots?

Ermmm, funnily enough it has a strong influence, but the influence comes from my own perception. My parents were born in Nigeria but I’ve never lived there, only recently, less than two years ago did I begin to take regular trips to Lagos, on my own accord. I find Africa VERY interesting, from its culture, Art, history, music, landscapes and of course the people, literally everything I saw and felt whilst spending time in Nigeria played an important role. Africa as a whole played a major part, since the printed fabrics I used are ALL from different West African countries, ones I’ve never even been to, such as Mali. (But I must visit there one day) – We’re all influenced by our surroundings, Lagos becoming a part of my surroundings as I designed my first ever collection, it was only normal for me to connect with it; it had to become a part of me.

Do you get a lot of support from back home in Nigeria?

So far so good, I guess people have to support not only your craft, but your hard work and efforts, I haven’t even put in a hundred percent yet so I’m thankful for the appreciation received thus far. Once I establish Kitschai and people fully understand what it is I’m doing, then that is when I will feel the true force of support. You have to prove yourself before anyone agrees to stand behind you, I’m yet to do that. I still have a long way to go, the beginning is yet to arrive. In a way, it all starts here!

How do you choose your fabrics?

Once I’ve thought about the garment, the next thing is to create a visual, fabrics have tastes, smells, personalities and much more, so whichever fits the persona I’m trying to create, that’s what I’d choose. Sometimes it depends on the silhouette of course, but there are times you could think of using cardboard for a dress, so it’s all pretty abstract really. However you perceive it, is how it will be done. Sometimes I think of a garment and a particular fabric comes to mind, I try not to go with that only because the first thing that pops into your mind is usually the easiest, so I brainstorm, paint vivid pictures in my head, once you do that, the step of choosing the best suited fabric will be pretty simple. But I LOVE mesh and PVC, I mean who doesn’t?

Which design/outfit would you say was your signature piece?

Everything. Each garment that I design shows a different part of what Kitschai represents. The future visuals I create will do the same. If I was to choose the most popular piece, it would be the Black quilted leather bustier and pencil skirt with the jumbo zippers at the front, everybody seems to love that ensemble.

If Kitschai had a soundtrack, who would be on the album?

That’s easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper, Common, Andre 3000 and Paramore.

Which celebs would you most like to see rocking your brand?

Of COURSE Lady Gaga, she’s amazing in every possible way. Scott Disick, I’ve never made menswear garments but I would, just for him.

Are there any celebs you WOULDN’T want to be seen rocking Kitschai?

No, I can’t think of any. Wish I did though, that would be interesting. But without sounding cliché [even though I will] Kitschai creates for any and everyone, so I know that anybody could wear a garment of mine and make it their own, anyone who has the vision or is open to RECEIVE the vision, I’d be honoured to see rocking Kitschai.

Describe Kitschai in exactly 5 words

Extraordinary. Love. Art. Visual. Purple.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Zybatron! It’s a self proclaimed Utopia that I intend on building to harbor all my friends and loved ones. But if you mean career wise, I’d love to be noticed and appreciated, so long as that is accomplished, I’d be more than happy. For people to know Kitschai, see Kitschai and acknowledge the presence of Kitschai as an Art provider, would be a dream come true. A couple kids wouldn’t be too bad either. [Laughs]

Follow @Kitschai on Instagram

* Ayara Pommells is Owner of UK website and a music writer for, & as well as an entertainment writer for Kontrol Magazine. Follow @YahYahNah.