NIGERIAN DESIGNER BRANDS YOU SHOULD KNOW AND THE FORCES BEHIND THEM PART 2
Last month Editor-In-Chief of Style Cravings, Zainab Imichi Alhassan, compiled the first list of Nigerian designer brands to be aware of and the personalities behind them. Today I will be providing you with the second part of that list. These designers are relevant in the Nigerian fashion industry today because they are either part of the fashion pioneers, have a unique point of view or have represented Nigerian fashion well internationally. Some are already established household names while the rest are up and coming designers, however you see it these designer are making history. Will there be a part 3? hope so and we are looking forward to making another list with strong emerging designer brands. In no particular order check out these brands and their founders below
Worthy fashion frontier, Ade Bakare has always been one to look to for the perfect classic look . Classic with a modern twist is one of the best ways to describe every one of his pieces. The London based designer who is passionate about fashion has also been a part of promoting laudable fashion labels in Nigeria by establishing projects such as the Young Designers Creative Competition. Ade Bakare has been in the business since 1991.
Founded by Fioye Akinsola, Oyeyemi Wemi-Akinsola and Nike Ajanaku (all share the same Virgo zodiac sign) in 2008, this vintage inspired brand is one to always make a wearer stand out. Targeted at spoiling fashion lovers and trendy folks with exceptional pieces, their love for embellishments always give distinct characteristics to everyone of their outfits which cannot be mistaken for any other. One thing I have observed about Virgos Lounge pieces is that they are never boring.
The contemporary brand made its debut in the Arise Magazine Fashion Week in Lagos in 2012 and since then, we have had nothing but genius crafts from the designer . It is almost impossible to stream line what type of woman the label is best suited for because it appeals to every style and fashion preference; there is a piece for every woman. Plus, it is very rare to see a Nigerian designer brilliantly combine fabrics and textures together making an entire ensemble appear effortlessly done.
The Obsidian label was launched in 2009 by Isoken Ogiemwonyi who is also the co-founder of multi brand store, L’Espace and Le Petit Marche, Nigeria. The Obsidian brand appeals to every woman who likes to express herself in a variety of ways without restrictions. The label is definitely one to watch out for when shopping for the perfect outfit.
Clan is the hobbyhorse of 3 sisters, Tiwa, Teni and Aba Sagoe. A look at works from the brand and it is clear that the label is for the fresh, young and confident fashionistas. Their love for fashion and the whole business of fashion cannot be far fetched as these trio are daughters of notable fashion designer Deola Sagoe. The cheerful and vibrant feel in each creation cannot be mistaken for any other. The brand appeals to my major personal sense of style.
Davida Okpara is a veteran fashion designer designer who loves the LBD and is skilled in tailoring them. Hardly would you come across a collection without those Little Black Dresses. The designer is less into the up-to-date-keeping-up-with-trends type of fashion. She knows and understands the female body so well, it is like every piece is made for every female.
You cannot successfully compile a list of top influential Nigerian designers without including Ejiro Amos Tafiri. The designer extraordinaire has had her internship at high up fashion houses like Tiffany Amber,Out of Africa and Zizi Ethnic, all of which have given her the right boost and expertise to be able to launch her label and she has not failed at bringing out what can be considered together with the best of clothing.
Emmy Collins is one of the not so many fashion rebels who have been able to deliberately ignore fashion status quo. It the prints, fabric, pattern and colors, all mixed together in very unusual designs to produce remarkable works. The London based designer exudes all forms of cool.
Every designer has their strong points, special talents which always serve as some form of trade mark and visual as well as mental symbol of a brand. For Eki Orleans, it is in the way creative director Harvey Aggrey Orleans implements her knowledge of colours, textile and fashion design. Her designs have graced the pages of top global magazines, newspapers, journals and media houses such as The Guardian, CNN Harper’s Bazaar, The Financial Times, Drapers and Arise Magazine. Harvey gets are inspiration from her surroundings, everything is some form of inspiration even butterflies. The Eki Orleans designs are gotten from memories of Harvey’s growing up years in Nigerian, a part from her German ancestry and also her African origin . No other name could have best been suitable for the brand like the name ‘Eki’ which means ‘centre of attraction’. The Eki Orleans brand has been presented on several runways around the world in places like London, Paris, Cannes and Johannesburg. I am without a doubt an Eki Orleans lover.
Frank Oshodi is one of the top Nigerian fashion brands, he is also an industry veteran. Having being in the fashion industry since 1989, starting out first as a model, then as model manger to being a make up artist, his ability to mesh vintage with modern plus retro is like no other. Specialised in bridal and bridesmaids garments, Frank Oshodi is one of those few whose work speaks for thems. A benchmark designer for upcoming fashion labels, he is a favourite among the elegant creme de la creme. One of his popular pieces is the deep v neck green dress Agbani Darego wore when she was crowned Miss World in 2001.
HOUSE OF FARRAH
House of Farrah is a luxury brand that appeared in the Nigerian fashion scene in 2004, although under another label (ABFAB) and since then it has gone through brand restructuring (Zain) until finally settling for House of Farah. The label is owned by Fatima Aliyu Garba. In my opinion, the label does better as an accessories brand more than a clothing brand. Also producers of male clothing, however the accessories are the real deal.
REPUBLIC OF FOREIGNER
The ROF label is one of the emerging fashion houses in the country that I am really hoping is here to stay. Founded in 2010, the lifestyle brand is one with a worldwide cultural vibe mix to every creation; more like some form of mental applique. I most definitely want to see more of the label in future and like Clan, it appeals to my own sense of fashion. The co-creative directors and founders of the brand are sisters, Carmen and Selina Sutherland.
This brand is another one of my favorite brands known for its feminine aesthetics. I particularly love her latest collection and the way she was successfully able to label all the outfits in the collection in line with some noteworthy women in Nigeria like Toolz, Eku, Dolapo and Lisa. Akpos okudu does not follow trends but rather sets them. Akpos definitely knows how to channel her inner fashion genius into her clothes.
HOUSE OF DORCAS
It is always a feminine affair when it comes to pieces from HOD. The brand is definitely for women of style who know how they want to be perceived by society. Spotted many times on the red carpet, HOD stores are go to places for red carpet events. House of Dorcas was created by Lolade Majekodunmi, who is also the head designer.
Ethnically inspired and artistically driven, the kinabuti label is at the very peak of edgy fashion. Its founder and creative director is Caterina Bortolussi. Established in December 2010, the brand caters for both male and female fashion forwarders. Quirky, daring and overly expressive in character are a few words that best describes kinabuti.
Uju Offiah started the Meena brand in 2010 as a trendy, ready to wear fashion line. She was a protege for renowned designer ituen basi before launching her own label. Her collections are timeless and she never fails at successfully infusing different historical times into her pieces in very bold yet conservative forms.
Sunny rose is the fashion establishment of Maureen Okogwu-Ikokwu. The formal model is constantly inspired by the experiences, sights and scenarios she encounters when she travels. The sunny rose label is mostly for the casual, stylish and hip women. The brand is also into accessory and jewelry productions from precious stones, leather and animal skins.
Nkwo Onwuka is a UK based-Nigerian designer who continues to leave expressions of excitement in the faces of fashion lovers since inception in 2007 when she launched her diffusion line Afromania by Nkwo. “Nkwo” showed at the Arise Africa Fashion Week Johannesburg, where her pieces were selected by Europe’s leading online fashion store – ASOS. For this designer, its the way she plays with fabrics and and embellishments that intrigues me.
I remember my first Okunoren twins shirt a couple of years back and my thought on the shirt was; “easy comfortable fabrics and lovely designs”. These brothers have been in the commerce of making attractive bespoke wears since 2002. With more than a decade experience in clothing, tailoring, fabric combinations, everything and anything with the tag ‘Okunoren twins’ is simply mastermind. They are also into shoes creation.
VIV LA RESISTANCE
One look at any Viv la Resistance outfit and the first conceived reflection is sexy, strong, independent and female in control. The creative director, Mo Alatise is a designer who has been able to combine fashion and arts, creating bold timeless and sometimes mysterious pieces, all from the most exquisite fabrics. The label was launched in January 2010.
More on sibling love and common interest in the industry of fashion; Darlene and Lizzy Okpo are the brains behind the vibrant William Okpo label. Even with the differences in and uniqueness about their individual style (Lizzy’s being the ‘trendy old lady’ and Darlene’s being the ‘simple and comfortable’) these fashion enthusiasts have been able to successfully fashion a ready to wear brand with outfits that can always make statements on their own even without pairing with other pieces or accessories.
Perhaps this is the youngest brand on this list. Unisex fashion label tap designs, founded by Thorpe Weyinmi, Adeosun Toluwalase and Patrick Ifie embodies everything modern, contemporary, and African. being one of the African designers to represent Africa in the Miami fashion week 2013 was not a wind fall but was as an outcome of the amount of hardwork put into the production of every piece. The TAP is acronym for the designers’ individual surnames.
It is rather rare to see a female men’s wear designer produce highly commendable masculine pieces, but Buki Akib sure knows how to do her job well and she knows how to always put on a show with her designs. Her ‘fela collection’ which she showed at the L’oreal Paris show in London is one of my favourite collection yet. Traditional, Modern African, edgy and stylish are a few words I presume would describe Buki’s style as she infuses all these qualities in every one of her designs. She just recently introduced a bag line which goes to show that there are no limits to what this designer can take on.
Canadian based Dumebi Iyamah is the head of Andrea Iyamah. Dumebi fuses fine fabrics, creative cuts and appliques into her design, presenting lovable and glamorous attires. A typical Andrea Iyamah outfit is fun, young and cutting edge.
Very few designers understand how to use the damask fabric and do so with a much precision and expertise as Yvonne Nwosu. The french born designer established Vonne as an avenue to channel and express her thoughts and imaginations about what fashion should look and feel like.
Created by Yinka Fashola, the Moofa brand is one to leave you tres gorge, piece by piece.It is without a doubt one of the popular brands in Nigeria. skilled at designing everyday wears, the Moofa brand is relatively easy to wear and pair with other items and accessories.
ECLECTIC BY SASHA
Lawyer turned rapper/recording artiste now turned fashion designer. Yetunde Alabi (Sasha P) is one of the newest faces on the Nigerian fashion scene. The label which was launched on the 19th of August, 2012 with a debut collection, ‘Inception’ contains a number of rather commendable in previous works done but I am hoping to see more original and creative pieces in future collections. This is the first celebrity fashion brand in Nigeria.
APRIL BY KUMBI
No red carpet event goes by without looks and designs from the fashion brand, April by Kumbi. The label was launched in the spring of 2010 by Olakumbi Oyelese who is an expert in creating bespoke and ready to wear creations. April by Kunbi entails what femininity is and embraces all aspects of it making it a favourite among folks with the best fashion taste buds.
When you get so good at a thing and known for it, you always want to live up to expectations. Toju Foyeh is a proficient designer so skilled in the art of making evening gowns that she has carved a colossal domain in that field. The way she fits colors together with the perfect design is impeccable. Its like she understands colour shades and designs so well, she can craft a mesh of elegant cocktail wears with these little detailing. She officially launched her designer flagship store in Victoria Island, Lagos on the 14th of October 2012.
Duro Olowu is one of the few Nigerian designers who have successfully been able to put Nigerian fashion on the world’s map. making his in the London fashion scene in 2004, Duro Olowu has been able to establish a strong niche for himself in the Nigerian fashion sphere and the world over. His genius works have earned well deserving awards such as the designer of the year British fashion awards. His works have also attracted prominent clients like Michele Obama, Linda Evangelista and Uma Thurman to his label. with well defined cuts and brilliant use of prints and colours, he is able to present irresistible collections that make the fashion mind to marvel.
Hopefully, there will be a part three of these series. Watch out for it here on Style Cravings.