Photos

Prêt-À-Poundo: Ikiré Jones for The Western African & International Dandy

An interview with fashion designer Wale Oyejide about his menswear brand "Ikire Jones".

*All pictures by David Evan McDowell


One is not born a stylish man, one becomes a stylish man. Fashion is an entirely legitimate interest for men — don't get us wrong, it's not a question of dressing up over-the-top as a walking cliché, but looking good without working too hard. Menswear is constantly changing and has always been a delicate part of fashion. Many times, our dear fashion industry has crossed the line with bold statements and outrageous designs. You can be the type to never back down from a challenge or you can appreciate stylish garments with a nice touch. That latter introduces the touch of Nigerian designer Wale Oyejide for the Ikiré Jones brand/label. One of Esquire Magazine's"Best Dressed Real Men in America," his stylish creations from ready-to-wear & sport jackets to accessorizes are well-tailored and convey a unique artistic signature which one recognizes at the very first glance. Oyejide's thought of harmonizing jacket linings with wax-printed West African fabric he credits as a "a deliberate homage that pays tribute to my heritage." A little plus, we love the tightened-waist jacket signature/choice and the little story behind each piece on their website.

Who is Wale Oyejide? Where are you from? 

I was born and raised in Nigeria, and like many West Africans, traveled back and forth to the United States and other parts of the world while growing up. I'm an Afrobeat musician, an attorney and a menswear designer.

How did you start creating? When did you start considering fashion?

For me, it was a natural evolution. The same way I began my music career several years ago by diving-in, I began my career in the menswear industry. Creative people have a difficult time sitting on the side-lines. When we find something we are passionate about, we end up trying our hand at it, for better or worse.

Did you study fashion and if yes, where?

I do not have any formal fashion training, no. I'm sure it would help, but I wasn't going to let the lack of a formal education in the field stop me.

Where do you seek inspiration?

I'm generally inspired by images of people who look at ease and comfortable with who they are. It makes me want to translate the same sentiment with my clothing. Also, Kanye West lyrics.

How would you describe Ikiré Jones's signature in one line?

A marriage between Neapolitan tailoring and African aesthetics.

What makes it so special?

I am personally not aware of any brand that has combined high-end Italian construction and African elements, and presented them with the sort of inspired-narratives that I have. I don't think it is a stretch to say that a visit to my website is a wholly unique experience.

I think that you are a great example of the African inspired revolution in menswear, do you think that you are bringing something new?

Thank you. There is nothing new or novel under the sun. There are only different interpretations of the same language. I see my work as akin to what jazz musicians do with standards, or what hip-hop producers do with remixes. You may have heard the song before, but it has never been freaked quite like this.

Which materials are you using? and where do you get them?

I use a combination of British wools and African wax-printed fabrics. As far as where they are from? A magician never reveals his tricks.

Where have we seen your work? What's this collection's inspiration?

People may be familiar with my menswear blog: Less Gentlemen, but this is my first outing as a designer. This collection is basically a love-letter to my upbringing as a global citizen. I drew from various cultural touch-points in my life.

What is your masterpiece? The one that represents this collection.

I don't believe that there is one. As a whole, the collection communicate seeks to communicate a singular idea.

What makes a person stylish?

I think that's a question everyone has to answer for themselves. I do design clothes, but I don't consider myself an arbiter of what people should or should not wear. I just make clothes that I appreciate and hope that other people enjoy them.

Which African singer or band would you like to see wearing one of your piece?

Honestly, I'm not interested in seeking out celebrity endorsements for the sake of it. There are certainly artists that I am inspired by. Black Thought from The Roots is an obvious example. I named "the Trotter" jacket after him. For me, a collaboration has to make sense, and should come from an organic relationship and mutual admiration. Most of the African musicians I enjoy did hi-life and afrobeat in the 70s. It would be great to do something for Ebo Taylor (from Ghana).

Stylistically, what's your favorite movie?

The television show Boardwalk Empire has a really great wardrobe.

What is the distinction between style and fashion?

Fashion is very much temporary and of the now. But that doesnt make it a bad thing. People want something they can be excited by and are unfamiliar with. Style is inherent; I'm not sure if it can be taught.

Which world leader has the most distinctive style?

Most world leaders look terrible to mediocre in my opinion. But of course, they have bigger things to worry about than the length of their trouser cuffs. You can't fault them for that.

Today, we have the emergence of many African fashion week in many countries. This evolution is the proof of the existence of African fashion, should African designers be present in regular fashion weeks, is there any discrimination?

I frankly don't have enough experience in the industry to speak about any sort of discrimination. I think people should concern themselves with making a good product. Quality goods will always find their way into the right hands eventually.

What are your hopes for the African fashion?

I hesitate to speak as an authority on "African fashion." I don't consider what I do exclusively African, or made exclusively for an African audience. Though my work is inspired by my African heritage, there is no doubt that my garments are of Western origins. For me, the label is much less important than the content and quality of the art being made.

Describe Ikiré Jones in one word.

Adventurous.

Okayafrica is ....

Refreshing.

popular
Asa 'Lucid' cover.

The 14 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Asa, Patoranking x Busiswa, $pacely, Vagabon, Shane Eagle and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Fela Kuti and Ginger Baker. (Photo by Echoes/Redferns/Getty Images)

Remembering Ginger Baker's Afrobeat Collaborations With Fela Kuti

After Cream, Baker spent several years in the 1970s living and recording in Nigeria, most notably with Fela Kuti.

Ginger Baker, pioneer British rock drummer and co-founder of the band Cream, passed away yesterday. He was 80-years-old.

"Baker had been suffering from myriad ailments, including chronic respiratory illness and osteoarthritis," Okayplayer reports. "On September 25th, his family asked fans to keep Baker in their prayers, as he'd reached a critical point that warranted hospitalization. And [Sunday] morning, they informed fans on Facebook the drummer had 'passed away peacefully.'"

Baker was well-known across the world for his work with Cream, the group he formed alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce.

Once Cream disbanded—and short stints with projects like Blind Faith and Ginger Baker's Air Force—the drummer turned his attention to Africa, eventually building a recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria.

The documentary, Ginger Baker in Africa, follows him as he traveled by Range Rover from Algeria to Nigeria, across the Sahara Desert. Once he reached Lagos, he started setting up the studio. Though it took some times to figure out, and several setbacks, Batakota (ARC) studios finally opened at the end of January 1973.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
(Photo Courtesy of DIARRABLU)

Meet the Senegalese Designer Making Math Chic

Diarra Bousso uses algorithms to create designs for her line DIARRABLU.

Who knew that math and fashion could work together so seamlessly? Apparently Diarra Bousso did, the self-described "Creative Mathematician" and mastermind behind DIARRABLU. The Senegalese serial entrepreneur and multidisciplinary artist left a career of trading on Wall Street to pursue design and it paid off. She has just been awarded a coveted spot as the Designer in Residence at the San Francisco Fashion Incubator for her innovative use of equations and algorithms in her beautiful designs.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
(Photo by Emma McIntyre/BAFTA LA/Getty Images for BAFTA LA)

Daniel Kaluuya Is Producing a Live-Action 'Barney' Movie with Mattel

Yes, you read that correctly.

In a move that absolutely no one saw coming, Oscar-nominated actor Daniel Kaluuya is set to produce a live-action Barney movie in conjunction with Mattel Films. The Hollywood Reporter first broke the story.

Kaluuya will co-produce the film as part of his 59% production banner, which signed a first-look deal with Paramount back in May. Speaking on his involvement with the project and the impact of Barney & Friends, Kaluuya had this to say: "Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood. We're excited to explore this compelling modern-day hero and see if his message of 'I love you, you love me' can stand the test of time."

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.