Knitwear is an essential wardrobe staple to have. And these Nigerian brands are showing a fun, nuanced side to the style.
Many people associate knitwear with either their childhoods or old women in rocking chairs. These stereotypes need to go. Fashion’s impulse to reinvent and reimagine anything is evident in the current rise of knitwear, a style trend that is popping up on TikTok, runways, and fashion covers.
The same effect has taken hold on the Nigerian fashion industry. A slew of designers have emerged, putting their own spin on knitwear fashion. The nostalgic return to Y2K dressing might have a hand in how young Nigerians are choosing to wear and style knitwear. Regardless of one’s sartorial leanings, knitwear is an essential wardrobe staple to have. And these Nigerian brands are showing a fun, nuanced side to it.
Founded in 2018 by Elyon Adede, Elexiay is a perfect example of how knitwear can strip its traditional yokings and embody something fresh. As a matter of distinction, Elexiay is a crochet brand, sculpting the female form with fashion-forward chicness. Each design is lyrical and luxe, whether its this cerulean blue cashmere occasion wear, this crochet cropped top with a back mimicking corset lacing, or this brown knitted multi-strap bustier.
Last year, fast fashion company Shien was in the news for copying an Elexiay creation, a crossed ribbed sweater that became the brand’s flagship piece of craftsmanship and community. Elexiay is driven by a workforce of Nigerian women, coming together in an artisanal spirit. Jobs are created, knowledge is shared, while also maintaining sustainability practices.
If a Nigerian celebrity is seen wearing crochet or knitwear, it’s most likely from Studio Imo. Founded in 2013 by design duo Edwin Okolo and Imobong Emah, the brand steadily has worked its way into the corridors of Nigeria’s celebrity grapevine from Dakore Egbuson-Akande to Linda Ejiofor-Suleiman to Adekunle Gold. While you would find Studio Imo’s knitwear in macrame patterns, swishing fringe, slimming silhouettes and even plunging necklines, the brand doesn’t lose sight of its overall conservatism, making heirloom pieces cherished for craftsmanship and durability.
Knitwear has been going in fierce directions lately, but the brand still sees a coolness in knitwear’s outdated codes of volume. Over the years, what Studio Imo’s frontman and creative director Edwin has learned about the craft is that yarn choice can have a massive impact on branding. There has to be intention behind the yarns used and how they are marketed. Edwin’s choice allows him to get away with design choices that would look frumpy in any other medium.
While not exclusive to the Nigerian fashion industry, concepts of sustainability and ethically sourced textiles have become nothing but posturing. When Vogue Italia did a feature on Bloke in 2016, spotlighting it as one of the emerging talents changing fashion globally, the brand’s sustainability credentials was a noteworthy component. Since its inception in 2015, Bloke has been quirkily blurring gender lines, a message it has interpreted through a variety of textiles.
It was a family friend that introduced founder Faith Oluwajimi to machine knitting, which is why the brand has an attachment to knitwear, whether it is long cardigans with graphic prints, two-tone knit dresses, or wrap cropped tops on male models.
21 Wool Street
Although still operating low-scale, 21 Wool Street has a brand story that fixates on what it means to be young and outgoing. And this also means making its offerings reasonably priced. Focusing on accessories has been an entry point into becoming intimate with the brand. Creating the Jadesola bag for example, which has achieved a status symbol amongst influencers.
Floyd Cardigan Collection
Veronica Omoniyi Ogochukwu Shokoya founded Floyd Cardigan Collection in 2016 as a practical ready-to-wear brand. And as the name says, cardigans are a core product, as well as casual jumpers and vests that prioritizes comfort and ease. Deftly using color-blocking has become one of the brand’s signatures. Their pieces can be worn as separates, giving it so much styling potential that it feels adjacent to streetwear.
The brand doesn’t see its consumers as a monolith. In its latest collection released this year, it presented a slinky feminine side, be it in the form of knitted bandeau tops and micro minis. While socks may come across as boring and understated, over at Floyd Cardigan Collection they are a necessary part of the brand’s knitwear arsenal.
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