Style
Image courtesy of NASO.

Discover the Minimalist Designs of Nigerian-Owned Fashion Label NASO

They're set to launch their latest collection at Banana Republic this month.

NASO is a new fashion label founded by first-generation Nigerian-American Uyi Omorogbe, who has made it a point to place social impact and minimalist design at the center of the brand.

Influenced by African aesthetics and manufactured completely on the continent, the brand is invested in building schools in rural ares of Nigeria, and uses a percentage of its earnings in order to do so, says Omorogbe. The brand built its first school in the Nigerian village of Urhokuosa, where Omorogbe's father is from in 2019.

Now, NASO is expanding in a major way with a new partnership with fashion retailer Banana Republic. The line will launch at their flagship store in Manhattan later this month, and it's the first brand to have a pop-up at the store. The hope is that the collaboration will help further NASO's ethically-minded mission. "Our mission is simple: to produce great products, create economic opportunity, and empower the youth of Africa to change their communities and in the process, the world," says Omorogbe. "When our customers wear our clothing, we want them to have a feeling of empowerment, a feeling that makes them think, "Well done," or as we say in Nigeria, NASO."


Their collection features clean designs that appear comfortable and functional, with touches of African flair. "We believe that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. We marry Western and African culture to create timeless, minimalist pieces for the fashion forward global citizen," says Omorogbe of the designs. "We take simple shapes and silhouettes and accent them with authentic African textiles, creating looks that are subtle, but catch the eye of everyone in the room."

The line will be available at Banana Republic's Manhattan store and online from Feb 20-23. Preview pieces from the collection below and see more via their site and on Instagram.

Image courtesy of NASO.

Image courtesy of NASO.

Image courtesy of NASO.

Image courtesy of NASO.

Image courtesy of NASO.

Image courtesy of NASO.


Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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