Uniting Cultures through Fashion Design




Boluwatife Olagoke comes from Nigeria, he is a fourth year student of BSc in Nursing at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pécs with the Scholarship Programme for Christian Young People. His interest nursing comes from his mother, and he saved a girl’s life two days after he learned how to do CPR. In his spare time, he designs and makes unique garments using colourful African fabrics. The talented student presented his own brand at a fashion show in July 2021.

Why did you choose to study abroad in Pécs?

Ever since I was younger, I always liked to do something out of my comfort zone. When I saw the Scholarship Programme for Christian Young People, I googled the universities in Hungary, and selected the University of Pécs, because of its rich cultural background and its historical roots. I came to Hungary in 2017, when the university celebrated the 650th anniversary.

What was it like, when you arrived? Did you experience culture shock?

Coming to Hungary, travelling from Budapest to Pécs is another experience on its own! I think the first couple of days are the most challenging, because you arrive at a completely unfamiliar place, you barely know anyone, and you cannot speak the language. I got lost in the city a couple of times. But luckily, my mentor in Pécs really tried her best to help me. Hungarian people are very helpful! Even if they do not speak English, I can show a picture of my dormitory, or my address. I am at fault not speaking Hungarian, I should not put the blame on them. I always joke around with my friends that one of my best friends in Hungary is Google Translate! When I ask for help, I use my limited knowledge of Hungarian “Kicsit beszél magyarul”, pointing and doing everything I can to be understood.

Why did you choose to study nursing?

My mother is a nurse. I think, my dream in life is just to make people happy and to see the end result of people being happy.

I discovered that when I was in Nigeria. I heard a story of a girl, who died, so I asked my mother, what I could do to help, if somebody collapsed. She taught me CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Two days after that, I was just walking on the road, and there was this girl, she attended the same church as me, and her parents started shouting that she is not breathing! I did the chest compressions, and I managed to help her. I was so happy that she survived! I am grateful for being able to learn more about nursing and soon being able to do it professionally.

What was your topic of research for your thesis?

The use of complimentary alternative therapy among university students, such as acupuncture, massage, aromatic oils, exercise or music therapy. The target group was university students studying in Hungary. With the help of my supervisor, I was able to compare the results of Hungarian and international students in this respect. I discovered that contrary to my hypothesis, Hungarians have a wider, general knowledge of various forms of therapy, than international students know about this topic.

I heard that you design clothes, how and when did that start?

I learned a few things in Nigeria about fashion sense.

When I came to Hungary, I always had a problem with length of trousers, so I decided to get a sewing machine. That is how the whole story began.

My friends also brought their clothes that needed some change to me. Later on, when I travelled home to Nigeria, I found a large print type fabric called ankara that I really like and it got me thinking, how I could incorporate it to European style.

My goal is to mix the cultures together, so that it makes sense and allows us to see their uniqueness. That is how I got the idea for my fashion brand, Largo Collections.

I actually had my first fashion show in collaboration with others in Budapest in July at the Afro Festival Hungary!

How did you learn all that?

A lot of what I know about fashion, about sewing, I learned from YouTube!

I am a student, so I have to go to school, I have to study and do a lot of hospital work. I do not have a lot of free time. However, any time I feel like I want to watch a movie, I tell myself: let me just see, what is happening on YouTube. Then I end up watching countless videos, I have learnt many things this way. I designed and made what I am wearing now, I also make hoodies, turtlenecks, shirts, jumpsuits, for every season, for people from anywhere in the world.

Are there any challenges?

This is my final year, and apart from school, you have to do research, you have to study for the final exam, so it is quite challenging. I want to have at least a little knowledge about everything. Also it is not just about sewing now, after I make the clothes, I take pictures, edit them myself and upload them to Facebook, hoping that maybe someone will like them, and want to wear my designs. I probably need some business knowledge as well.

Do you already know, in which direction you want to continue in the future?

I do not know yet.

I would like to have some work experience in nursing.

Then while I am doing that, maybe I could do fashion design in my free time. Now I am just building a solid foundation. I want to have a proper plan. I want to put a smile on people’s face, either through helping them as a nurse, or through fashion design.

Do you have a message for the students of UP?

Do, what makes you happy, spread positive vibes. If you want something, do not look for excuses, just go for it! People often say that they need more time. If you do something for ten or five minutes each day consistently, is actually better long-term, than not doing anything, because you do not have one hour every day.

The little time you have, just do something with it. Be consistent, and over time, it will be something wonderful.

Moving beyond your comfort zone is difficult. But when you are able to move out of it, then you keep on going and exploring.

Mariann Tóth