Byline Fashion Editor Kenneth Nwaezeigwe may be better known to some by his online alias, Dapper Sapeur. Since getting his start on Instagram almost two years ago, Kenneth’s blog (@dapper_sapeur) has amassed over 16,000 followers, all eager to receive their daily dose of style inspiration. Kenneth’s unique fashion sense – a mix of traditional and contemporary styles, with key features including layering and combining various patterns and colours – has not only captured the imaginations of everyday fashion enthusiasts, but has led to a wealth of opportunities, including his recent student brand ambassadorship with online retailer Boohoo.com. Following his experience at Boohoo offices in Manchester, we spoke with Kenneth about his ambassadorship, his work with the Irish powerlifting team, and what life is like for an independent student blogger.
Q: How long have you been blogging, and how did you get started?
I’ve been blogging for over a year and a half now officially. I’m nearly at the 2 year mark. Wow, that’s a long time!
I kind of fell into it: I was never a fashionable kid – I wasn’t even a fashionable teenager. It wasn’t until after I turned 20 that I started to think about fashion, so I was a late bloomer, so to speak. I remember reading an article in a free magazine at the time called “Insert Title” – I’m not sure if the magazine is still in publication or not. The article was written by James Mcdonald who, at the time, was a stylist in Brown Thomas here in Cork. I was so awestruck by the article, which spoke about essential items that every man in his early 20s should have, and I decided from there that I could own those items and start dressing better.
The blog Dapper Sapeur realistically started there. It wasn’t until a few months later that I turned my idea into action and I joined Instagram and started posting blurry pictures with my Sony Experia J. At the time, the struggle was definitely real. I had to make sure my pictures were always outside and in very good lighting just to not end up with a crappy pixelated image. I started with 46 followers which realistically consisted of my very close friends and family. Now I’m here sitting at 16.4k, and I’m optimistic for the future.
Q: How would you describe your personal style?
My style I would say is quite sartorial; I love suits and I like long overcoats. I never leave home without a nice coat of some sort, whether it be my long camel overcoat or my short herringbone tweed double breasted pea coat. A good coat is to men what a nice shade of lipstick is to women. You can wear whatever you wish under a coat; it’s the easiest style hack I can think of.
My style has changed quite a bit since I first started dressing well. Initially I thought that suits were the be-all and end-all, but now I’m seeing that I can be just as well dressed in a plain white tee, black skinny jeans and a nice long coat in camel or grey.
Q: What interests do you have outside fashion?
Another one of my interests would have to be powerlifting. I started powerlifting at about the same time that I started college the first time. I’m now currently on the Irish powerlifting squad, heading to European championships for the International Powerlifting Federation in Denmark in a few weeks. Powerlifting is very different from fashion, but I try to bring some of my fashion into it – even if it’s wearing fashionable clothes to my comps, or wearing fashionable socks while competing.
Q: How did your partnership with Boohoo come about?
My partnership with Boohoo is a student brand ambassadorship position, which basically means that I represent Boohoo & BoohooMan as a company; so I’m expected to wear their products and promote them on my social media platforms. I’ve also got to submit monthly content photos and I’ve deadlines and quotas to hit. It was completely random: I know another blogger in Dublin who had worked with Boohoo through his PR company, but since I’m an independent blogger I’ve to do the legwork myself. But that also means I keep all profits made from the connections I make. I was told about the Boohoo student ambassador programme by their online social media platform on Instagram. I originally didn’t think that I was going to get it, but I said, why not just apply? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. My good friend Emmet Curtin helped me out with making the video, and we shot it in just under 20 minutes. It was edited the same day. You don’t realise how much you hate the sound of your own voice until you have to edit it for over an hour. A week later, I was told I had gotten the gig.
Q: What does the work entail?
I basically do what I would normally do on Instagram, except I do it while wearing Boohoo and BoohooMan clothes. I have a monthly credit allowance that I have to spend on Boohoo products. I also have to submit four pieces of style content and two pieces of lifestyle content every month. I represent Boohoo and BoohooMan at fashion shows, and I am expected to talk about the quality standard of Boohoo and BoohooMan clothes and accessories. Finally, I am not allowed to enter into any parternships with other companies in which there is a conflict of interest – so the likes of ASOS, New Look, River Island, TopMan etc. are off limits on my social media accounts.
Q: How did you get on in England?
It was amazing. I spend quite a lot of time visiting the UK, but most of the time I am in London, so this is my first time visiting Manchester. It’s so different to London in that it is easier to get around, it’s much slower paced and it feels a lot more like Cork. I had a great time despite being stopped at the airport 5 times to be searched (#bigblackguyproblems #thickbeardproblems #totesnotracist #random).
Q: Finally, any tips for people thinking of starting a fashion blog?
First of all, just go for it. Secondly, find your niche. Don’t do something that is overly general, as it makes it really hard for people to connect with you. Do something that you are passionate about. If you have a passion for something, people are more likely to share that passion. Lastly, keep your content quality high. I started off with a crappy android phone taking bad pictures, but it wasn’t until I invested money in a proper camera that I started to gain followers, sponsors and traction on my page. Never forget why you started, and keep having fun with it. It’s tough being relevant on social media but if you are doing something that you like, then you will always be relevant. Also – no selfies.
You can find Kenneth on Instagram at @dapper_sapeur.