Motherlan: The Birthplace of Lagos Skating
Slawn is the foil to every artist you have ever seen on screen. He’s blunt and doesn’t put on airs. Slawn does not burn with an inner fire, but is cool and collected. His speaking style like most of his 99% text- 1% call, generation is direct and clipped. He takes the world as he sees it, content with being an outsider as long as he can carve a space for himself and the like-minded.
While most artists scream to be heard, Slawn’s desire isn’t to be noticed by all, but by the right people. His carefree speech doesn’t mean he doesn’t care, he cares about his work, he just doesn’t care about how you feel about him. It’s strangely refreshing.
“If I’m being honest I’m not gonna cap about some Nigerian blah blah that influenced our skating streetwear brand. We saw what they were doing in the states and in Europe and we just stole it and made our own version, but Onyedi was the one who was mainly on crud with stuff like that.”
Ten years ago, if you had said Lagos would develop an underground skating scene, you would probably be met with an emergency call to a mental health facility. The idea of Lagos with it’s tarred, broken roads, overzealous police and dominant anti-punk culture having a single skater let alone a skateshop was laughable. But Slawn, one of the three founders of Motherlan- a skating brand turned fashion brand, thrives in the inhospitable. And the brand in his eyes, is for fellow desert flowers growing against the grain, or what he calls “Lagos’s troublesome kids.”
But while he insists their clothes are for troublemakers, Slawn and his co-founders, Onyedi and Leo have found the opposite of trouble.
What started off as friendly hangouts at Lagos’s only skateshop WafflesNCream in 2016 has quickly become a streetwear fashion brand and international sensation. From making innocuous skating videos and painting shop walls to collaborating with Angelo Baque and making a documentary with Converse through their Spark Progress initiative, Motherlan is quickly becoming one of the most controversial and influential fashion brands in Lagos today; bringing with it a cultural shift that may change the landscape of Lagos forever.
The Guardian Life speaks to one of Lagos’s godfathers of skate culture about style, cults and death before the dishonour of V neck shirts.
As a fashion brand, a skate group and a filmmaking group definitions seem impossible for Motherlan. What would you describe Motherlan as?
I would describe Motherlan to me, but not how Nigerians see cult with all the red and the blood and stuff, more like a very strict family but not strict with coercion.
If you could steal a celebrity skateboard, whose are you taking?
Mark Gonzales for sure.
What’s the first thing you made?
A hat, I remember a brown embroidered M hat.
What does style mean to you?
Style to me means nothing man, If you think you’re styling then you’re styling, who really gets to say what style is? I don’t know, this question would be good for Paolo cause he will take you on a whole journey about how skating brings style into your life.
What’s something you can never be caught wearing?
What’s the most surprising thing about your upcoming collection?
Wouldn’t be surprising if I told you, would it? (laughs)
Where do you see your brand in 10 years?
In 10 years, there’s a good chance the whole world is gonna be *poof*, if not, then maybe open a nice store branch in a space station somewhere I don’t know. I’m not good with questions like that (haha). I don’t want to jinx anything.
What’s a trend you wish you’d started?
If you could dress from only one fashion era for the rest of your life, what era would it be?
What’s a trend you never want to see again?
What’s your favourite colour?
What’s an accessory you can’t live without?
If I’m being honest, I could live without all
Who came up with the name Motherlan?
Onyedi and his cousin Azuibike