Photo: Emmanuel Obianke/Getty Images
Meet 5 Young Designers Making their Lagos Fashion Week Debut
From celebrating family bonds to examining how fashion has impacted the environment, these designers are aiming to make their mark at this year's event.
As Heineken Lagos Fashion Week (Lagos FW) prepares to kick off this week, drawing fashion enthusiasts from across the globe, the glittering affair also cements the pivotal platform it has become for young designers over the past four years. Through its 'Green Access' program, up-and-coming designers have been given the opportunity to create and showcase a range of limited pieces that will make their runway debut as part of Lagos FW’s prestigious platform.
A handful of young designers from countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Morocco, and South Africa will take part in this season's event, which runs from the 26th to the 30th of October, 2022. As with last year, some designers will host private shows, while others, including the emerging designers of the 'Green Access' program, will showcase at the prestigious Federal Palace Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos.
OkayAfrica spoke to some of the faces behind the labels who’ll be showing for the first time, to get a sneak peek into what they have planned for their collections.
Oshobor Nigeria is an androgynous label that interrogates the relationship between a father and his son, through a loving, supportive lens. Founded by Peter ‘Dawn’ Oshobor, the brand seeks to tell stories of feelings - of love, hate, toxicity, jealousy, warmth, and more, and addresses centuries of restrictions surrounding the expression of masculinity in all its shades and forms. This is the basis for the SS/23 collection, which will be making its debut at Lagos Fashion Week, and is titled ‘Na Man You Be’, the Pidgin version of “you’re a man.”
“The collection is a celebration to people who play father-figure roles in the lives of younger people, whether they identify as women or men. Even women can play father-figure roles,” Oshobor tells OkayAfrica. “I hope that this collection allows us to stamp our identities in the hearts of others. With this collection, we hope to reach out to the people this story’s for. We hope that they get to see it, and are inspired to do so much more in the roles they’re occupying.”
Founded by Kyere Kwaku Awiti, the MetaKay brand is proving to be a real delight, coming from coastal Ghana and heading to this year’s Lagos Fashion Week. Their pieces look at sustainability and climate change, and how fashion has impacted the environment. According to Awiti, the collection was inspired by the Garden of Eden, and takes us back in time to when things were seemingly pure, crystal, green and flavorful.
“The waves [on the looks] is a signature for this collection, representing water, energy waves, radioactive waves,” Awiti tells OkayAfrica. This collection is also all about transparency in people, and one of the looks— a top with an open back— speaks to that narrative. You could also see this narrative from their designs, which feature long skirts, blouses, palazzo pants, draped shift dresses, choices of colors, and the like. “This collection is a remembrance of how it used to be, and how we are treating the environment.”
SVL is an acronym for Sipho Vuyo Lushaba, and Lushaba is the founder/creative head of the sustainable label. Originally a South African brand, SVL has been able to easily infuse this heritage in its brand voice and aesthetics, whilst also telling intricate stories about the environment, and universal everyday experiences. This season, SVL makes its way to Lagos Fashion Week with a collection dubbed ‘Umsebenzi Wendoda’, which is an ode to single mothers.
“The collection mainly speaks of single mothers who have to face the reality of playing [the roles of] both parents, and how this impacts the lives of those they’re raising,” Lushaba tells OkayAfrica. “In terms of what we hope for, it’ll be to have an impact through the message that we tell, especially to a larger audience.”
Take one look at the Olisa Kenya brand, and you’ll see a label deeply rooted in playful expression. The label, founded by Kenyan designer Akoth Otieno, exudes a sense of immersion, through its pop of color and signature looks. For its Lagos Fashion Week debut, the label will showcase its SS/23 collection titled ‘Mwanzo’.
“The collection is titled ‘Mwanzo’, and it's a look into where the fragments of a person - whether present or future - collide in motion,” Otieno tells OkayAfrica. “For this, we therefore focus on innovation rather than novelty, but basically updating the knowledge we’ve learned in the past couple of years.” This collection sees Olisa Kenya tap into its trademark look, which is a low-back top. “The silhouettes are unapologetically intentional, and half of it is because we have grown as a brand.”
Sahrzad Designs was founded by Moroccan designer Scheherazade Essrhir as a way to perfectly balance Moroccan traditions and modernity. Essrhir’s pride in her Moroccan tradition and culture has caused her to create silhouettes with visible Moroccan aesthetics, like the use of Sfifa - a kind of embroidery significant to the people of Morocco, and made by hand. This, and more, will be seen in the SS/23 collection she’ll be featuring at Lagos Fashion Week, which is titled ‘Hajiba’, an honour to her mother.
“My inspiration [for this collection] is the beauty and strength of nature in Africa, and the incredible mix of color we can find in the continent,” she tells OkayAfrica. “I travel a lot, and what I feel/see in the continent, I don’t, anywhere else, and I hope that after this collection, I would leave an incredible footprint as an African and Moroccan woman.” Esshir’s collection is totally handmade, and has blue, white, and orange as its primary colors.
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