On the 27th of October, 2021, Lagos Fashion Week opened its doors once again to welcome all guests and lovers of fashion. People across the globe travelled far and wide to view, commemorate, celebrate, and support some of their favourite designers. Since the advent of the global pandemic, a lot of shows went digital, and while Lagos Fashion Week didn’t have the opportunity to do a physical nor a hybrid show due to both the pandemic and ENDSARS protest, it came with a bang this year, 2021, with a few peculiarities.
This year, designers like Lisa Folawiyo, Adebayo Oke-Lawal of Orange Culture, Thompson Adeju of Lagos Space Program, Banke Kuku, and a host of others, were given the opportunity to host private shows, opening their doors to guests from all walks of life. Another emergent trend this year was the manner in which the designers deviated from the status quo and, and delivered very promising creative designs, leaving our mouths watering for more – from colours to prints, mix and match styling, storytelling, and even activism. For the most part, storytelling and activism have been linked to androgynous fashion, which right now is all the more significant in Nigeria, especially because of the country’s inherent conservative nature.
Post Fashion Week, these four androgynous designers should be on your radar. Their collections were significantly important, with their underlying stories serving as a conduit for conversations we’ve consciously or unconsciously ignored these past years:
No doubt, the Maxivive brand is built on the premise of representation and boundary-pushing emotifs. Over the years, three most apt words to describe the Maxivive brand are Fashion, Activism and Heart. This year, Papa Opeyemi, founder and creative director of the Nigerian androgynous fashion label, takes us back in time. Maxivive’s SS/22 collection titled 2 Bailey Street was created to build a communal space where people could live and be expressive about their experiences. This season, we saw references to the ENDSARS Lekki Tollgate shooting, bringing into vision, the physical experiences of most people. “My collection is called 2 Bailey Street – a space where people from different walks of life could come in to feel safe, regardless of harmful laws surrounding them,” he tells Culture Custodian. “I wanted to use this collection to create a community out of chaos.”
Lagos Space Programme
Founded by non-binary Thompson Adeju, Lagos Space Program has successfully developed into a brand with a solid voice and ethos. Balancing sustainable fashion and activism, Adeju has managed to capture the hearts of fashion lovers. Their works transcends beyond the present, telling contemporary stories with both visible and non-visible details. This season, they worked to release an SS/22 collection titled Oshun – Oshun’s Legacy. “It’s about me visiting and attending the Oshun annual festival that’s performed in Osun state. It’s a town very dear to my heart that I visit regularly, doing a lot of research and creating my Adire fabrics there. It’s a community that I’ve become a part of,” Adeju tells Culture Custodian. “I went to the festival this year to document the aesthetics and design elements that really caught my eyes, seeking ways I could use them for my elements.”
Maliko is an androgynous footwear brand founded by the talented designer, Ebuka Omaliko. He hails from the eastern part of Nigeria, and currently lives in Lagos, Nigeria, where he’s successfully building a footwear brand using a sustainable approach. For his SS/22 collection, he told a personal story intertwined with activism and representation. This collection, Afin-Nity, The Albino Beauty, is his way of telling you about the existence of Albinos, and how they’ve consciously and unconsciously been ignored. Having an albino mother, himself, Omaliko infuses details that are peculiar to albinos, into creating a very cohesive footwear collection. So, details like eye colours, hair colour, and skin peculiarities like freckles, vitiligo, etcetera, were referenced. “I wanted to use this collection to explore the beauty of Albinism. I therefore paid attention to their skins and outlook, helping me put together different colour palettes, and matching with our brand’s architectural silhouettes,” he says to Culture Custodian.
Year 2020 was a year to be retrospective especially for Nigerians. Besides how the global pandemic affected our senses of being, the youth-led protest against police brutality arguably brought us to a new era. This is one of the major inspirations for the recently released collection of inclusive androgynous label, ASSIAN. The brand, first founded by Matiu Gordon and now being run by Cecilia Idang, released an SS/22 collection called The Beginning of A New Dawn. The collection seeks to inspire people to push beyond boundaries and obstacles, bringing in the ideas of inclusivity and representation. “Our collection was basically inspired by what happened last year. It is like a new beginning especially for us. This is why we showed more bright and happy colours as our aesthetics this season,” she tells Culture Custodian.