The new leg of Burna Boy’s Love, Damini stadium tour is in full throttle. Done with arena spaces — he’s conquered New York’s Madison Square Garden, London’s O2 Arena, and Atlanta’s State Farm Arena with sold-out shows — the Nigerian heavyweight act is now scaling up tour venues to fit his image. Not surprising, then, to see some thoughtfulness in his outfit choices. Weeks after making his Met Gala debut wearing the new Burberry tartan, he thrilled fans in Paris in the first stop of his Love, Damini tour.
He sold out the 40-000 capacity Paris La Défense venue. Strikingly, he wore custom Robert Wun for a better part of his performance, a black, pleated matching set plucked from Wun’s SS23 “birding” collection. Over the weekend headlining at the London Stadium, home ground of Premier League club, West Ham United, Burna Boy turned to Robert Wun once more.
If he looked like a raven in Paris, he looked like a kingfisher in London. In crisp, autumnal orange, the bursting flare of pants and sleeves, and the glide of the top overlay as he moved about on stage, isn’t only hitting a sartorial tone with high fashion but might suggest a new metaphorical shift in how Burna Boy sees himself.
He’s become the first African to sell out London’s 80,000-capacity stadium, and with more stops in the Netherlands (June 17), Portugal (June 28), Denmark (June 29) and the US (July 8), here are three takeaways from his tour looks so far.
The Robert Wun-Afrobeats star relationship
Before Burna Boy donned his first Robert Wun ensemble in Paris, the London-based Hong Kong designer had Tems as a celebrity client, whom he had put in two custom creations. The first time at her 2022 London show at Koko, wearing a teal, halter neck set with billowing pleats. The second time was at the 2023 Met Gala, her showstopping feather couture in monochrome.
Both Burna Boy and Tems owe their stylists — Romani Ogulu and Dunsin Wright respectively — for tapping their celebrity into the world of designers like Wun. With the crossover of Afrobeats into global markets, its stars are now thrust into new worlds of fans, media, and public engagements. Wun is filling an opportunity gap where Afrobeats A-listers are making fashion statements on bigger stages. And we have a feeling this is a symbiotic relationship that will spring more surprises.
Breaking the Afrobeats male wardrobe ceiling
Due to gendered notions ingrained in music artistry, there are often low expectations for male artists regarding wardrobe and style choices when performing live. In Nigeria, where Afrobeats is situated as a nerve center, male artists arrive at their shows or concerts wearing streetwear or wardrobe basics. In some cases, they take off their tops in the throes of excitement or passion. This isn’t the case with female Afrobeat acts.
Asake has been of the male artists who have pushed the envelope, causing a stir online when he wore a black denim skirt repurposed as a top to one of his shows. While Burna Boy has performed topless (one time he stripped to his underwear in Nigeria), his Love, Damini tour outfits show male artists can straddle the line between stage performance and stylish wardrobe.
A new Burna Boy iconography
Robert Wun’s avian-inspired garments honor his late grandmother, who liked the swallow bird. But seen on Burna Boy, they take a different meaning. His crossover stardom was accompanied by a nonstop supply of confidence on his part. Some might argue that it’s cockiness, so much so that he earned his name as the “African Giant” after the 2019 Coachella fiasco.
As time went on, he likened himself to the fearlessness of a gorilla, meshing with his persona in a way that has produced an emoji, merchandise, and more. His ongoing tour staged in stadiums demonstrates that he’s in a gigantic world of his own. Robert Wun’s avian motif in his designs seemingly codes for Burna Boy’s appetite for more space to dominate, more records to be broken. Even if it means launching himself into the sky like a bird.