Tartan jacket on his shoulders, sharp haircut on his head, Reece Wabara’s journey to becoming one of fashion’s most successful newcomers hasn’t been conventional. At 26, he’s the proud owner and CEO of Manière De Voir, a specialist in designer unisex clothing, though Wabara spent much of his early years playing professional football, eventually going it alone in the fashion world against all advice.
Having started his footballing career at Walsall, he later secured a dream move to Manchester City and struggled to break into the first team. After a number of loan spells at Wigan, Bolton, Ipswich, Blackpool, and Oldham, Wabara realised that football wouldn’t last forever. Knowing his short career earnings had to last a lifetime, he was forced to act. “How do you make that stretch?” he asks. “It’s about smart moves.”
Thinking long term, Wabara drew up plans for his fashion label. It takes courage to leave the security of a high paid footballing career in your mid-twenties and throw it all into an entirely new venture, and he certainly had his doubters at first. Friends, family, ex-colleagues, many of them thought that his brand wouldn’t last long—that it was a short lived hobby. “After a year, people started taking me really seriously,” he recalls.
Yet, for Wabara, it was all about focus. Taking a hands-on approach at his brand, he was involved with the day-to-day running of the operation as much as the marketing and the design. His dedication and high standards drove the company, and after a few years at the helm, Manière De Voir now stands toe-to-toe with the very biggest fashion labels worldwide.
The secret to Wabara’s success is his mindset, which he learned through football. Being in and out of the team gave him the tools to handle big business decisions and deal with the consequences, and he learned to thrive off that pressure and remain disciplined. “Now, in life, I seek adversity, I expect problems in business, in growth,” he says. “You have to be relentless.”
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