In the 1990s, Lagos was the perfect example of a dysfunctional city, left to its own devices and apparently in decline. Today, Lagos is an attraction in itself. A metropolitan island that’s home to an interesting mix of people, cultures and is fast becoming a melting pot of creative talents and businesses in Africa. In addition, Lagos has become one of the new fashion capitals. But this boom isn’t just limited to fashion. The Nollywood film industry has long been in the shadow of the more famous Bollywood and Hollywood, and now attracts global investment from companies such as Netflix. The Art X Lagos fair is in its fifth year, attracting 40,000 visitors from all over the world. Musically, the Afrobeats scene has exploded globally.
Lagos Fashion Week (also known as LagosFW) is a #fashion platform that drives the Nigerian and ultimately #African fashion industry. It brings together buyers, consumers and the media to view current designer collections in a four-day event in the fashion capital of #Lagos, Nigeria. It’s the first major fashion week that shapes and concretizes the future of African fashion, supporting emerging and innovative designers. But that is not all. In fact, the event also aims to be a vehicle to create new jobs and access the opportunities that the world market offers - Fashion Focus Africa, Fashion Focus Fund, Fashion Business Series and Green Access are just some of the aforementioned initiatives promoted by #LagosFW.
Lagos Fashion Week, held every fall, was launched in 2011 by Omoyemi Akerele. She conceived the biennial Lagos Fashion Week with the intention of not only increasing exposure for local designers, but also of providing them with a long-term framework for building thriving businesses. “There was a group of like-minded, passionate individuals here, members of a fashion scene where the only passport to entry is passion,” says Akerele. “But it’s more than just dreaming of a fashion utopia - it’s about bringing fashion to our people to develop our economy.”.
It’s been 10 years since the first Lagos Fashion Week and not only has the fashion show proved to be a stepping stone for some of the biggest names in African fashion, from Kenneth Ize to Orange Culture, but Akerele’s efforts to bring the Nigerian textile industry back to its previous glories (until the 1980s, it was the largest in Africa) led the industry to achieve unprecedented growth for the first time in decades.
But who are the fashion designers who have truly left their mark over the years during LagosFW?
Lisa Folawiyo, one of the most established designers on the Lagos Fashion Week program, has built her reputation on her innovative mix of traditional #Ankara fabrics (the famous wax-resistant dyed fabrics of West Africa) with contemporary tailoring skills and feminine silhouettes. This last season, she showed us playfully mismatched prints and a palette of bright colors on cropped tops and midi skirts, along with tailored trouser suits.
Adebayo Oke-Lawal created his contemporary menswear brand Orange Culture in 2011 and has since become one of the foremost promoters of an androgynous approach to dressing. The label is more than a clothing line, Adebayo insists. It is a “movement” that covers universal silhouettes with an African touch. Prints, patterns and bold colors are the drivers of his S/S 21 collection, which mixes #street references with his both masculine and feminine youthful silhouettes.
African art and culture are deeply intertwined in Aisha Obuobi’s Christie Brown label. Created in 2008, Christie Brown is an ambitious brand, which combines #tailored suits with decorative fabrics and traditional wax-resistant fabrics, offering a stylish taste of true neo-African culture. For S/S 21, Obuobi combines a rich color palette with lace and brocade to obtain feminine silhouettes with fitted shapes enhanced by bustier