Style
Photo courtesy of Ayana Zaire.

Style Dimension: Ayana Zaire Is Using Her Brand To Study the Link Between Labor & Black Women

"I am not in the business of changing the 'black narrative,' nor do I want to be. I am simply adding to the conversation, chiming in with my two cents."

Style Dimension is OkayAfrica's seven-part series highlighting emerging designers from Africa and its diaspora. Along with giving you a glimpse of each designer's stunning work, this series is an introduction into their creative realm. In the seventh and last edition of the series, meet the mind behind Zaire Studio, Ayana Zaire.

While most people approach design primarily through an aesthetics standpoint, Ayana Zaire believes the core of style lies in researching and exploring the past to get a deeper understanding of the now. Born and raised in the DMV (D.C., Maryland and Virginia area), one of her biggest goals was to bring a unique creative energy to the city.

As the designer under her label Zaire Studio, she has done this through producing collections that focus on research on post-work societies and communication. Her original inspiration for the brand was wanting an experimental space and creative vessel to research, craft and publish her ideas seasonally. This led to her employer, who owned a shop in D.C. called Redeem, supporting her and allowing her to use the store as a launching pad to get people aware of her designs.

Her debut collection, Our Future, focused on workwear and its relationship with capitalism and the human condition. With Zaire's latest drop, her exploration of workwear continues though the POW-EROTICA collection that was inspired by the essay "Use of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power" by critically acclaimed poet, Audre Lorde. Using reconstructed menswear pieces like oxfords, suiting and outerwear; mixed with feminine staples like bodysuits and dancer uniforms, she seeks to create a harmony using both feminine and masculine styles.

I spoke with Ayana Zaire on her African-American heritage as inspiration and how she wants to shift the fashion landscape through her brand.

Keep reading... Show less
Style
Photo courtesy of Ifeanyi Nwune.

Style Dimension: Ifeanyi Nwune Is the Designer Becoming the Face of Lagos' New Wave Fashion Scene

The mind behind I.N Official touches on drawing inspiration from traditional culture, experimenting with fashion and more.

Style Dimension is OkayAfrica's seven-part series highlighting emerging designers from Africa and its diaspora. Along with giving you a glimpse of each designer's stunning work, this series is an introduction into their creative realm. In the sixth edition of the series, meet Nigerian designer and manager, Ifeanyi Nwune.

The music and fashion worlds have been connecting more than ever before. While artists in Nigeria are beginning to be increasingly conscious of this, there are people behind the scenes who are leading the charge.

As a fashion designer and music manager for afrobeats star Runtown, Ifeanyi Nwune believes there is huge value in being multifaceted and conscious of the global culture. Currently based in Lagos, his label I.N Official is inspired by his personal realizations that the coolest clothes he saw were either too expensive or nowhere to be found in Nigeria. "I knew that wasn't going to change anytime soon, so I thought to create my own comfort zone; moments when I can feel fresh in clothes that can't be seen anywhere but on me," he says. "As time went on, I decided to produce for the public."

Since the release of his brand, his label has been featured on platforms like Hypebeast and Highsnobiety while becoming one of the faces of the new wave fashion scene in Lagos. He has held fashion presentations in Nigeria as well as produced editorials in places like Los Angeles in which his pieces can be seen on top celebrity stylists like Ugo Mozie and icons like Maxwell. By producing his pieces domestically and working with local tailors, Ifeanyi is able to have more control over the process and aims to deliver the highest quality between streetwear and classic menswear staples.

I spoke with Ifeanyi Nwune about his inspirations and how his Nigerian heritage has been an influence on his approach to design.

Keep reading... Show less
Style
Photo courtesy of Haute Baso.

Style Dimension: Pierra Ntayombya Wants Young African Designers To Tap Into the Power of Collaboration

The CEO of the Rwandan label speaks on the mission of the brand and the importance of investing in young talent.

Style Dimension is OkayAfrica's seven-part series highlighting emerging designers from Africa and its diaspora. Along with giving you a glimpse of each designer's stunning work, this series is an introduction into their creative realm. In the fifth edition of the series, meet CEO of Rwandan brand Haute Baso, Pierra Ntayombya.

While fashion is often seen as a tool to push pop culture trends, there's not much focus on utilizing design to uplift and create economic independence for people in low income communities.

On the other hand, Rwandan label Haute Baso recognizes the value in ethical fashion and creating ready to wear pieces characterized by elements of traditional African craftsmanship. CEO Pierra Ntayomba, who handles operations of the brand founded by Linda Makungoga in 2014, expresses how the brand recognizes the potential of young women by offering them training and employment—an investment that creates skill development at a fair wage and within a safe working environment.

Most of the women working with Haute Baso are the sole breadwinners of their households. The partnership with the brand enables them to feed, educate, and provide healthcare for their loved ones, which ultimately reduces the long-term cycle of poverty associated with many African countries. The brand has worked with 275 artisans in Rwanda so far.

Haute Baso's current collection is inspired by Rwanda's vibrant and timeless culture paired with sustainability, technology, modern design and comfort.Through their pieces, they utilize traditional skills such as basket weaving and embroidery in their relaxed, cross-seasonal looks in an innovative way. Their commitment is to make accessible clothing that is stylish, simple and builds confidence in their buyers.

I spoke with Pierra Ntayombya about Haute Baso's goal as a brand and how they want to shape change using style.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.