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Turn Your Traditional Wears Into High Fashion

Contrary to the summer vibe, which is a perfect excuse to travel and shop outside the country, we are doing something different this year. We are packing our bags and travelling around Nigeria, ticking off our shopping bucket list our country’s most treasured traditional fashion finds.

Not sure where to start?

Maki Oh Adire. Photo: Maki Oh

The Nike Art Gallery in Lagos is a great starting point. Adire is the most commercialised of our traditional dyeing and weaving techniques, with Adire prints popping up everywhere from Orange Culture to Maki Oh. But their Adire prints don’t hold a candle to the authenticity of the Adire motifs in the gallery’s fabric archives. It is the storied material worth investing in.

Chelsea Adefioye in a peach gold Aso-oke Komole iro and buba by Deola Sagoe. Photo: Instagram

Not too far from Lagos are the historical walls of Owo Town. With its stellar take on the traditional Yoruba fabric, aso-oke, Owo has some of the best weavers in the world. While they adapt to meet the times, each piece of aso-oke spun in that town is a true historical fashion relic. And designers like Deola Sagoe are bringing the art to its most advanced form.

Akwete. Photo: Instagram, Emmy Kasbit

Theresa May Photo: 234Star

Next stop is Asaba which holds some of the best-hidden fashion treasures in Nigeria. Their most enduring cultural emblem – akwete, was incorporated in the celebrated Emmy Kasbit Summer 2018 collection. It shows how versatile the graphic motifs and nubile fabric can be in a stylish person’s wardrobe. Would you dare?

Adesua Etomi wearing coral beads for her wedding. Photo: Instagram

On the other side of Asaba are the gorgeous artist communes in Benin City. Benin City has celebrated its own history, immortalising its kings and queens through visual and written art. But one of its hidden treasures is its coral jewellery industry. Snag yourself a costume jewellery set or decorated bangles and revel in contemporary fashion with roots that go deep.

Zashadu bag. Photo Instagram

Finish your trip at Kano. With 600-year-old walls that still stand and a culture vibrant as it is mysterious, Kano’s cultural history spans several centuries. The Kano dye pits still house pits that Mansa Musa must have bought cloth. Visit its tanneries and get quality hide, the kind that has come to signify brands like Zashadu.

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