Nigerian designers are finally carving a space for themselves. The old, new, young, established, and even emerging, are switching up into gears that are allowing for fast paced wins and commendation. They’re even harnessing the power of marketing fashion platforms like Lagos Fashion Week, showcasing designs that speak clearly about their brand ethos, mission, and vision.
Just recently, the 2021 season of Lagos Fashion Week – one of the most anticipated fashion shows in Africa – took place. After its last edition in 2019, the advent of the coronavirus pandemic and youth-led protest against police brutality, ENDSARS, a show which allows us to converge in love and community, while also showing off our individual style, was due.
Opening its doors on the 27th through 30th of October, 2021, Lagos Fashion Week had both onsite and offsite shows. The offsite shows happened at designated spaces in Lagos, where designers had the opportunity of inviting people interested in their private viewing; while the on-site shows took place at the tent of Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. Lisa Folawiyo, Adebayo Oke-Lawal of Orange Culture Nigeria, Thompson Adeju of Lagos Space Programme, Banke Kuku, Bubu Ogisi of Iamisigo, Taju Ibrahim of TJ Who, and Andrea Iyamah are a few of these designers who hosted private shows this season. Emmanuel Okoro of Emmy Kasbit, Ugo Monye, Ejiro Amos Tafiri, Tsemaye Binitie, Bridget Awosika, and Papa Opeyemi of Maxivive, are a few of the designers whose shows were on-site.
According to Statista in 2021, the global apparel market currently occupies a whopping amount of 1.5 trillion USD, with Nigeria, having its own little fraction of an estimated 347 million naira – approximately £680,758 or $902,085. Nigerian fashion, as vast as it is, continues to welcome designers whose founding premises are built on creativity and excellence. Young designers are building brands that speak directly to their personal ethos, leaving our mouths full with pieces that exude timelessness and longevity. Culture Custodian had the opportunity to speak with 4 emerging designers from Lagos Fashion Week, 2021, who are creating pieces that’ll transcend the test of time.
- Pepper Row
Growing up, Omafume Niemogha, founder and creative director of sustainable womenswear label, Pepper Row, had always been influenced by the arts. So, she thought to create a brand that’ll showcase Nigeria’s rich culture through fashion that combines the beauty of African craftsmanship and modern designs, whilst also making a positive impact to our community and society. For the Spring/Summer 22 collection, the brand was inspired by colourful figurines, diving into exploring the beauty of craftsmanship, as they work with a first-generation family of woodcarvers and local craftsmen. “Our SS/22 is titled Figurines Of The Future is our way of celebrating digital fashion and its synergy with art. We understand that the world is becoming more digital, and we just wanted to acknowledge that,” Niemogha tells Culture Custodian. “We worked with handwoven Aso-Oke, paint artistry with local artists, special technique to hand-dye some pieces with figurine motifs, upcycled repurposed woods, and upcycled broken glass.”
- Vicnate Nigeria
At 18, Victor Adewale Anate had created a womenswear label that celebrates the style of all kinds of women. He’s managed to create a brand that appeals to both luxury and class. For Anate, his love for women was what made him fall in love with the fashion industry. He wanted to create pieces that celebrate the existence of women, and this, he does, through constantly mind-travelling into how people in the past have expressed love through clothes, and how he could do it differently, without shifting focus from the woman. The brand has also always been inspired by some of fashion’s maestros in France, and this one one of the inspirations behind the SS/22 collection which he titled N°2. “The original idea began with an image by Helmut Newton and Yves Saint Laurent called “Le Smoking”. Le Smoking is a picture from 1975 with Vibeke Knudsen standing in the middle of a deserted street in Paris at night wearing a Saint Laurent smoking jacket and pants. That image changed the way women saw jackets and pants,” he tells Culture Custodian. “I was intrigued by the idea of taking something like a man’s jacket and turning it into formal evening wear for women yet also retaining sexy and feminine qualities: it didn’t make women look like men, unlike other variations at the time, it made them look sexy and as chic as possible.”
- Studio Imo
Edwin Okolo is the brains and creative director behind the knitwear brand, Studio Imo. Founded in 2013, the brand has created pieces that are of appeal to women looking to explore a different side of themselves. They’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with design labels like JZO, Orangeculture, Iamisigo, Denise Online, and so on. For the SS/22 collection, Okolo delves into the beauty of friendship, celebrating clients who have in more ways than one, turned friends. “The SS/22 collection is called Studio Imo In The Wild, which is basically the making of pieces that can function in people’s everyday lives, and giving a sense of glamour,” says Okolo. “The clothes are very functional, and the inspiration this season was based on people who have worn my brand the most. It was basically a celebration of their support for my brand over the years.”
- GËTO World
Gëto is a contemporary fashion label founded by Samantha Adebayo. The brand, which can be described with words like comfortable, colourful and inclusive, draws inspiration from Adebayo’s love for 70’s and 80’s hip-hop crew, Geto Boys. As a Nigerian, she also thought to build a brand that challenges the misconception of Nigeria as a ghetto space, thereby producing pieces that are of high quality, ethically sourced, and produced in developing countries. “My most recent collection is titled the Dispersal, and the idea was to celebrate Yoruba Nigerian culture within the diaspora. But I, first of all, highlighted specific areas during my research, like Lagos, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and New Orleans,” Adebayo, the creative director, tells Culture Custodian. “The collection was pretty important because I really wanted to bring up the brand in terms of difficulty level and intricacies of the design.”