3 independent Nigerian designers you must have on your radar
We are enjoying a surge of fashion designers in the Nigerian landscape as a host of young talents are on the rise with their disruptive and exciting approach to fashion. They are using their designs to challenge everything we have come to understand about style, design and even the way we view gender identity.
Fashion is being used as a vehicle to spark conversations and the more we tell our own stories, the more the rest of the world will be forced to sit up and listen.
Whilst we have nothing but respect for the veterans that have come before and paved the way for there to even be a functioning industry, we have to make way for the new wave of creatives that are catapulting Nigeria into a new era of creating. These three designers are definitely ones to watch are having a significant impact on the face of fashion as we know it.
These are the 3 that you definitely need on your style radar!
1 Abiola A. Olusola
Image from Abiola Olusola
Abiola O. Olusola is a contemporary womenswear brand that was founded in 2017. The eponymous label launched its debut collection 'Emi' at Nigerian luxury fashion store Temple Muse and was touted as an incredible first outing for the new designer. The collection itself was inspired by contemporary African women and explored Yoruba heritage through the use of printed fabrics that include adire and aso-oke.
Abiola herself believes that clothes should be be a delicate balance of comfort and chic and whilst being stylish, still remain very effortless. Her relaxed aesthetic is a breath of fresh air in an industry that can often be preoccupied with the idea that ‘more is more’.
I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer since I was 13 so after graduating from University of Lagos, I worked for an online retail company here in Lagos, while there I went for a Summer fashion design and draping course in Dubai by .
Afterwards, I decided to go to Paris to study fashion design at for 3 years. While at Istituto Marangoni, I interned at and a few other notable brands. My graduate collection was selected to be shown at Pitti Uomo in Florence and at Istituto Marangoni’s graduate show in Paris.
No doubt, Abiola’s credentials are impressive and her work even more so. We wait with baited breath to see what becomes of this label and how it grows into its own over the next few collections. We predict BIG things.
Image from Maxivive
Maxivive is a whole new frontier for gender neutral fashion in Nigerian. The creative director, Papa Oyeyemi, is a visionary who has created a line that is unlike anything we have seen before on the Nigerian fashion landscape.
Speaking about his aesthetic, Papa said,
My designs are general. I don’t believe in gender or race, or categorizations like that. I believe we are human-forced, so I design for humans.
In a country where people are constantly pigeon-holed and the idea of gender fluidity is fairly new, what Maxivive is doing through their designs is nothing short of revolutionary.
Papa Oyeyemi, through Maxivive and his other brands, is committed to changing the narrative of African fashion and forcing us to explore uncharted territory with his thought-provoking designs. His experimental approach to designing and his off- beat collections often raise eyebrows but he takes us back to the very fundamentals of what fashion is supposed to be. Fashion is meant to provoke; it was never meant to be something that was comfortable and easy.
His work has even caught the attention of international fashion bible Vogue who spoke very highly of the young creative. They wrote, ‘’The label Maxivive has a reputation for polarizing the Nigerian fashion community, pushing an idea of minimalism and androgyny that turns traditional menswear tropes upside down and inside out.’’
With a glowing endorsement from Vogue, it’s clear that Maxivive is on the right track and using their clothes as a conversation piece, we are excited to see just how much they turn the industry as we know it on its head.
3 Demure by Denike
Image from Demure by Denike
Creative director of Denike, Adenike Adegboye, is one that’s quickly becoming a force in the industry. Having launched a bespoke and a ready to wear line, it’s clear that Denike is coming for it all.
In 2012, Adenike started her fashion and lifestyle blog where she shared her personal style, which she describes as “a whole mix of so many things, relaxed, effortless and androgynous”. She also shared beauty and style tips, fashion trends, and lifestyle columns. She soon had to make a decision about the direction she wanted to go in and when Adenike started her clothing line, content creation was something she could no longer continue. By the end of 2016, she gave up fashion blogging to focus fully on fashion designing. Adenike, quite the mini style icon in her own right, describes her label as 'traditional yet modern'.
Demure by Denike is a womenswear brand which makes use of traditional African fabrics and techniques mixed with contemporary fabrics and a youthful twist.
It is a striking aesthetic, not only because of the deliberate use of colour but also because it is unapologetically African. From the fabrics to the creative direction, the concept of ‘Africa’ is at the forefront of everything the Denike produces. Speaking about their debut collection, Denike explained that, '’the juxtaposition of traditional tie dye (adire) techniques and contemporary fabrics is something we're excited about. Creating a fun and trendy way to wear Yoruba culture and heritage.’’
The emerging label even caught the eye of the Lagos Fashion Week organisers and was chosen as one of the fashion focus finalists and we can certainly see why.
The Fashion Focus initiative was created to empower fashion designers and give them the tools, resources and the support to follow their dreams. With their interesting mix of prints and traditional African materials, Denike stands out on the landscape of the Nigerian fashion industry as an innovative and unique new label. Having earned her stripes at Lagos Fashion Design Wweek, we cannot wait to see how Denike builds and evolves.