The Nigerian fashion industry is enjoying a whole lot of global attention. This has been the case for a couple of years now. While the industry is not necessarily where it needs to be yet, there is no denying the progress it has made over the past decade; progress that has been mostly thanks to individuals – designers, tailors, stylists, models, entrepreneurs, editors, photographers and co, who continue to put their all into an industry that more often than not, gives nothing in return.
At the forefront of the storytelling that is propelling the industry into the global limelight and generally shaking things up are a couple of brilliant young Nigerians, six of whom I highlight in this story. These young people have, through their crafts, shone light on not just the Nigerian fashion industry but also fashion as interpreted by the average Nigerian.
Stephen Tayo in Orange Culture’s SS20 campaign, ‘Speak Up’.
There’s a reason Stephen has made it to the Dazed100 and other such lists, the 26-year-old’s work is as authentic as they come. A native of Ekiti State, Stephen’s photography is inspired by his need to understand and showcase his cultural heritage. It goes beyond the glitz of high fashion to document everyday people and their style. Whether it’s his grandmother in Ikere or little girls in their Sunday best, Stephen continually puts his camera lens on regular folks who wouldn’t ordinarily make it into a fashion magazine.
Critic and designer, Edwin Okolo is currently the editor-in-chief at Ynaija.
Edwin is no newbie. The writer and critic has been doing the Lord’s work educating and keeping fashion people in check for a minute now. When Edwin is not keeping your fashion faves on their toes, he’s making these strikingly sexy dresses for his knitwear label Studio IMO. The label’s fashion week debut at the GTB Fashion Weekend last year was warmly received. Last year too, the label signed a deal with top Lagos lifestyle concept store, Temple Muse and it currently stocks there. It might have taken a minute, but Edwin is finally getting his coins.
Daniel Obasi is a multifaceted visual storyteller.
What made Tiwa Savage’s 49:99 visuals all the more astounding was the impeccable styling by Daniel Obasi. From costume designing to styling, Daniel’s work is marked by an edgy afrocentric style that leans heavily on the burgeoning alte culture. Some of his other works include Major Lazer’s ‘All My Life’ video and Odunsi’s debut album cover. He was also behind the Miu Miu X Garage Magazine Nollywood inspired editorial in 2018. This multifaceted visual storyteller cannot be ignored. He’s making sure of that.
Vincent Desmond continues to spotlight and celebrate difference even in the face of danger.
At only 20, Desmond is disrupting the fashion and pop culture scene with his bold storytelling. In a country where being different is a crime, Vincent celebrates “different” and does so unabashedly with his stories. The writer who was recently announced as the new editor-in-chief for Nigeria’s first LGBTQI magazine, A Nasty Boy, has over the last two years done a damn good job of not just covering the fashion industry but even more importantly, telling stories about being queer in Nigeria and all the difficulties that come with it.
Onyii Azode is quite simply your favorite influencer’s favorite influencer.
In just one year after she moved back to Nigeria, Onyii has built such a solid brand for herself that you can’t talk about fashion influencing in the country without mentioning her name at least twice. Perfectly curated looks, the Instagram feed of our dreams; there aren’t that many content creators who do it quite like this fashion-babe-cum-medical doctor. A collaboration with MAJU to launch a collection in 2019 went even further to prove that she knows exactly what she’s doing.
Bolajo’s Few Model Management has made international stars out of young girls who never even dreamt of it.
Eniola Abioro, Olamide Ogundele, Ayobami Okekunle, Ruth Akele, Daberechi Kalu, Elizabeth Ayodele – the list is endless. What these Nigerian models who are currently making major waves globally have in common (asides being Nigerians, of course) is that their careers were launched by the Bolajo Fawehinmi owned modelling agency, FEW Model Management.
Bolajo who used to be a model herself has built what is unarguably one of the leading modelling agencies in Africa surpassing a lot of her predecessors. And she’s only just begun.
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Author: Njideka Akabogu