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Taking Fashion Forward
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
To say that Adiat Disu ’08 has a passion for fashion is an understatement.
“Fashion has always been a source of inspiration for me,” says the Nigeria-born alumna. “I remember talking to many Bentley professors about ideas for combining my love for fashion with business.”
Those twin interests led Disu to establish Adiree Fashion Agency in February 2009. The company provides fashion event production and consultation to clients ranging from small design houses to large corporations. Most recently, Disu has focused her talents on bringing designers of African descent to the forefront of the New York City fashion scene.
This summer, Disu won a powerful ally to her cause. Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed July 12 to 18 as Africa Fashion Week in the city. Disu’s company produced the inaugural event: a weeklong affair showcasing the African Diaspora’s fashion talent in the heart of Manhattan.
“You cannot find authentic African clothes created by these designers in the stores,” explains Disu, who holds a BS in Marketing. “At the same time, the African Diaspora spends a lot of money on fashion – almost $1.2 billion last year alone. I decided to bridge those gaps by supporting the designers that I love and providing a platform for buyers to see their work.”
Africa Fashion Week New York drew more than 2,000 fashion enthusiasts and magazine editors. Attendees previewed lines by designers from Jamaica to South Africa to India, during a series of runway shows, exhibitions, and industry networking events.
Even as an undergraduate, Disu was stitching together her business skills and fashion sense. A student organization that she developed – Bentley Fashion Consultants – remains active on campus. Members explore the business of fashion, planning runway shows and attending panel discussions with industry VIPs.
“As much as people see the glitz and the glamour of the fashion world, operations management and financial forecasting are essential to success,” Disu observes. “The Bentley Fashion Consultants prepared me for the twists and turns you encounter in the real world.”
When pressed for a forecast on her future, Disu demurs. “At the end of the day, my clients have the last say and the loudest voice,” she says. “If they see it fit to take Africa Fashion Week around the world, then I will travel the world.”
Given recent success, Disu better have her passport ready.
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.