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The rise of the fashion guardians

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LAGOS, NIGERIA - MARCH 11: Models wearing Ozwald Boateng during ARISE Magazine Fashion Week Lagos 2012, GT Bank Tent, Federal Palace Hotel on March 11, 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage)

Models wearing Ozwald Boateng during ARISE Magazine Fashion Week Lagos 2012, GT Bank Tent, Federal Palace Hotel on March 11, 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage)

I remember trying to figure out where I fit in when I moved back to Nigeria in 2013. I was convinced that my future lay in public relations in some shape or form. I was always drawn to fashion and I liked to think I had a decent sense of style. Soon enough, I launched a fashion blog and started venturing out onto the Lagos fashion scene. What I found was a multi –tiered structure, which had grown exponentially in a very short time. Each tier had a crop of key players that set the tone and dictated what it meant to be fashionable and stylish in Nigeria. They’ve shaped the Nigerian fashion scene and have exported our aesthetic through various forms of media to create a louder dialogue with the rest of the world about what it means to be fabulous and African.

The designers were the first to rise. Between 2013 and 2016 it is truly outstanding how many of our local brands have not only upped the ante with their designs and the quality of their work, but have also managed to export themselves and are now positioned as international brands. From Michelle Obama favorite Maki Oh, to the quirky and loveable Orange Culture, there has been an emergence of designers that are ready and capable to go head-to –head with existing fashion powerhouses like Thom Browne, Marc Jacobs and even British based Nigerian designer Duro Olowu

Other pioneers in the industry like Deola Sagoe and Lanré Da Silva Ajayi have also achieved international success; with the latter now being stocked in Dolce and Gabbana ’s multi-brand store, Spiga2 Concept store in Milan while Deola Sagoe has also received critical acclaim for her work and has become a regular at New York Fashion week, Even in the less saturated menswear sector, there have been great strides to maintain creativity and innovation with a clear shift toward ready-to-wear pieces while incorporating more individualistic distinctive design that caters to men who embrace masculinity in  fresh and unique ways.

To put it simply “ when the fashion is a poppin’ , the fashion darlings are a comin’ ” . As trite as this next statement may be, we cannot deny the power of social media when it comes to self-promotion and cyber marketing. There has been a significant influx of young, creative individuals who are keen to share their experiences with the world. Visual stimulation is the trick of the trade.  The visual curators and photographers are also fashion lovers. They are also willing to patronize and support the designers around them that they deem worthy.  The designers also help make their brands more relatable by selling the brand lifestyle through pictures or even through its creative directors life. Whether its a subtle humble brag of fabulosity by Lisa Folawiyo or celebrating personal style in the best way with fashion bloggers like Fisayo Longe or Dodos Uvieghara, one thing is clear, the fashion industry needs personalities that people love, to show off designer talent.

Other fashion darlings to watch are Yagazie Emezi, Zina Anumudu , Temi Otedola and  Igee Okafor ;who holds it down all the way in New York for the men in diaspora. While Ian Audiffren, a designer and visual curator with a very keen , artistic eye has set the standard for lifestyle in Lagos through his pictures, I’d throw myself in the mix, but I’ll plead humility on this one. These people are pretty much getting people excited about individuality and are influencing a generation on how to embrace individuality through style and flawless visuals.

“ A collection is only as good as its lookbook” . I’m a firm believer in favorable presentation. Creative directors, photographers and the designers all have to work together to produce a lookbook that best captures the aesthetic of the collection. Lookbooks have become less of a retail tool and more of a measure of who executes creative vision with the most panache. The go-to’s here are Lakin Ogunbanwo, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Tope Adenola and of course Remi Adetiba , who, has already shot one of the best magazine covers  (Made Magazine  Issue 15, April 2016 issue with Ifan Ifeanyi Michael..) of  the year.

There are certainly more people who are pillars holding up the fashion and media community in Nigeria. I highlighted those with the most visible impact today. It’s safe to say that the fashion revolution is in full swing and everyone is doing their bit, albeit subconsciously, to make sure that Nigeria becomes a major player in the cutthroat and fabulous world of fashion. There are still major hurdles to overcome and there needs to be more invested into this sector; time, money and research are all necessary for growth. We have eyes on or fashion guardians there is room for more and I know that Nigerians are just getting started. We are ready to kick it up a notch and take this revolution to a whole new level.


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