Lagos Fashion & Design Week
Last week Lagos Fashion Design Week or LFDW as it is known in the business, concluded with a flurry of flashbulbs, Instagram posts and cheers from the crowds of fashion fanatics gathered. Now in its eighth edition, the week has become part of a larger creative and visual art’s calendar in Africa’s most populous and arguably dynamic city. So it was no surprise that the we were in town to assess the good, the bad and the essential for customers’ progress and all round aesthetic good health.
However, of equal importance was seeing the ways altering the narrative of how fashion on the continent is perceived as well as sold and more pertinently, and how as a medium it acts as both a gateway and conduit to both preserving and evolving culture and norms. Talks held during the week itself, in a separate marquee, hosted by Fashion Business Series, spoke to these and other realities, and MBA Professor Sissi Johnson brought the house down with an insightful talk that was in tandem with our mission, vision and purpose: to be a gateway to African luxury in the world and add value and innovation across the fashion supply chain.
But back to the collections: which pieces and collections were truly hitting the mark? As always, a dual assessment was at play. First, collections had to possess cohesiveness in ideation and secondly they needed to be executed with precision and excellence. When selling luxury, the dream is only one part of the equation: inspiration needed to meet with aspiration and this was more than achieved by two darlings of the fashion world, Maki Oh and Loza Maléhombo.
With both women what one saw was a distillation of local realities, cross cultural influences and an intimate understanding of what their customer wants to wear now. For Maki, the use of indigenous fabric Adire which has become something of a signature was enhanced with an introduction of denim, suiting and silks. In Loza’s case a cacophony of stripes, ginghams and lace did not look messy in her deft fingers; with silhouettes that enhanced the body, particularly the waistline and show stopper ensembles that wouldn’t be out of place anywhere in the world. Also of note was Christie Brown who presented an assured collection that took references from Edwardiana and the 1950’s,mixed tweeds with Ankara and lace and spoke to a woman who moves through life to the beat of her own drum unapologetically.
Menswear was held down by MaXhosa by Laduma, the de facto King of Knit. The Xhosa people’s weaving prowess has been translated into a covetable brand that celebrates traditional technique and aesthetics. Laduma sent sweaters, cardigans, skirts and shorts down the runway in a collection that featured pieces for both men and women. The patterns have diversified into both sedate palettes with camel and aqua being a particular winner, and other iterations, the socks are destined to be a bestseller but execution remained of the highest.
Tokyo James also continued to refine his vision for the modern man; with cowboy iconography colliding with African motifs that would be familiar to those whose lives are based in the tropics. Lizards and Spiders were printed onto pinstripe suits, and coats were as strong as ever. Newcomers Emmy Kasbit and Rich Mnisi also caught the attention of the buying team who fell in love not only with the clever use of indigenous fabrics, but also the repurposing of them into contemporary pieces that resonate today. In the instance of Mnisi, the sweaters sung more than other pieces, but it was still a confident and assured outing.
If you are reading this and are feeling an epic wave of FOMO, excitement and general, how-on-earth-do-I-get-any of this in my closet immediately anxiety, help is on the way- with many of the aforementioned imminently arriving on ONCHEK. But if there was any doubt prior to this year, Lagos has emerged as the leading destination for fashion on the continent and a nexus for culture, commerce and creativity.