Half of a twin

Sep 01

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Many articles have been written about the phenomenal wave of growth that has swept through the Nigerian entertainment industry in the last decade and elevated it from a fledgling pariah avoided by many of Nigeria’s elite into a billion naira consortium lauded by everyone from the clothiers in Aba churning out unlicensed t-shirts with Wizkid and PSquare’s image printed them to the President who recently invited musician D’Banj to host an syndicated interview. In comparison fewer articles have been written about how the growth in the entertainment industry has legitimized the Nigerian Fashion industry and how it’s extensive calendar of events have provided material with which sites like Bella Naija and Style Vitae have courted a loyal following . Even we at OmogeMura have benefited from this growth. There is surprisingly, a dearth of information on the role fashion influencers have played in this synergy and why we need to sit up and pay attention if we want this growth to continue.

We see that in Nigeria, in the way our social calendars are structured. Most common is the black tie corporate event. Bank CEO’s and heads of multinational corporations organize elaborate soirees to commemorate events; soirees where many local popular musicians are slated to perform. These artists and many of the attendees to these events wear Nigerian designers and designs, increasing the desirability of these labels. There are celebrated muse/designer relationships; like Uti Nwachukwu and Mai Atafo, Tiwa Savage and Bridget Awosika and Denrele and Remi Buttons.

While all of this has its place, no one can deny the work pioneers like Uche Pedro of Bella Naija, Ruth Osime of Thisday Style, Franka Asindi during her time with Complete Fashion and Linda Ikeji and her eponymous blog have done in selling Nigerian Fashion as desirable to the much wider, less influential Nigerian fashion followership, local and in diaspora. It is their work that has absorbed and regularized ‘red carpet’ culture and aided hitherto unseen personalities like Toke Makinwa to reach stratospheric levels of exposure and consequentially fame. Quite literally all of our current fashion icons, male and female, first found their fashion followership in the comments section of Bella Naija and Thisday Sunday readers. Even some aging fashion mavens like Regina Askia and Nike Oshinowo have reclaimed some of their old appeal through these fora. Even here in Nigeria, fashion and art have always evolved thanks to the direct action of influencers.

Influencer, a succinct word for a person able to compel change in others, usually without directly action. There have been many fashion influencers in Western fashion. It is not uncommon even to this day to hear designers describe a collection as a nod to the personal style of Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe or Jackie Onassis; all actresses and socialites who achieved legendary status in the sixties. These women were more than just muses, they all had strong opinions on what fashion and these opinions were reflected in their clothes. Jackie Onassis, wife of John F. Kennedy was one of the first American first ladies who gained visibility for choosing to wear name brand American designers. Over the decades Fashion continued to be influenced by people like Andy Warhol whose influence brought about deference to ‘Pop Art’ and Day-Glo colours in fashion and Grace Jones who was one of the first proponents of Androgyny in women’s fashion. Even today, there are fashion influencers like Rihanna Robin Fenty who brings a certain rebellion to fashion and Lady Gaga, a musician who managed to singlehandedly mainstream critically acclaimed but commercially marginalized Baroque and Haute Goth designers like Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh.

But over the last three decades, a new target demographic for high fashion has emerged. A much younger, more upwardly mobile demographic. The internet has made available high fashion in a way it never was before. Millions of teenaged boys and girls are able to slake their thirst for new fashion almost instantaneously. Fashion weeks are live broadcast by online and on Michel Adam’s Fashion TV, and pieces can be pre-ordered online before the fashion buyers even decide what to stock their high street stores with, a full four month before the first mass produced garment is hung up at H&M. But even then, it took the West a good while before they sat up and took notice. And this was only after young people took the media accessible to them and began to make their voice heard.

"Enough Said" Portraits - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival
Tavi Gevinson
That is a name that has come up a lot of times over the last five years if you religiously follow global fashion influencers. Just 18 years old, she already has seven years of experience in the highest echelons of the global fashion industry behind her. She currently runs and is editor-in-chief of Rookie; a high concept, full feature online magazine geared exclusively for teenage girls that was evolved from her fashion blog TheStyleRookie.com. Tavi’s entry into fashion is serendipitous, gaining notice for her eclectic fashion and insightful fashion commentary and being invited to front row shows at New York and Paris Fashion weeks at age twelve and has appeared in the Forbes list of 30 most influential people under 30 in media.

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Hayden Williams, a twenty three year old British fashion illustrator has won his way into the hearts of many a fashionable celebrity over the last four years. Delving exclusively into fashion illustration in 2011, Williams’s striking illustrations in the likeness of many popular celebrities garbed in his conceptual creations has had him meet and be referenced by dozens of international fashion magazines and even a collaboration with British cosmetic giants Rimmel London and uber model Kate Moss. He has already had two capsule collections and has partnered with many outfits.

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But, most memorable of all is Olivier Rousteing, creative head at Balmain who literally knocked his way through all the fashion Palazzos in Rome until he was ‘discovered’ by Roberto Cavalli who mentored him until he decided to try out and win the coveted position of creative director at Balmain. Rousteing was 18 when he moved to Rome from Bordeaux with no security blanket to make a name for himself.

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With reference to these fascinating anecdotes, Nigeria is not without its own young and admirable fashion influencers. If I were to make a personal list, the first name on it unequivocally would be Onyinye Fafi-Obi. Now in her mid-twenties, Onyinye started a personal style blog that quickly gained ground thanks to her unique personal style and her open demeanour. It was a blog I followed for a while before she switched gears and started Elsie Vintage, an online vintage wear resell blog. Before long Elsie Vintage was holding sale events and successfully stocking original, thirty year old Chanel Bags; a feat in Nigeria where we either religiously hoard or aggressively throw away. Then she delved into styling and is currently a celebrated stylist, with a portfolio that includes Complete Fashion, WOW! Mag, Genevieve and Thisday Style. Currently she works with Lanre Da Silva, one of the most respected fashion houses in the country while managing to remain accessible.

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There is also Adaku Ufere of ThirdWorldProfashional, a personal style blogger and fashion commentator whose blog has made visible quite a number of upcoming designers, and has spoken everywhere from Social Media Week Lagos to Spice TV. She is one of the few fashion bloggers who has managed to turn her blogging into a profitable business without compromising her fashion aesthetic and a serious voice on what is cool and what is not.

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David Onyedike of Dave Sucre studios has in four short years gone has built himself a brand, opening his own makeup studio, partnering with international hair brands and doing make up at London Fashion Week, he has transformed himself into a staple of the fashion editorial circuit, basically influencing Nigerian beauty trends alongside greats like Banke Meshida Lawal and Tara Durotoye.

Designers like Ian Audifferen of Tzar Ian and Adebayo Lawal of Orange Culture are taking Nigerian menswear and revolutionizing it one collection at a time. With wildly different aesthetics both manage to push the boundaries with clothes that are edgy but wearable, a big factor in what sells and what doesn’t in menswear. Bayo in particular has been lauded by everyone from Vogue Italia to GQ UK, and recently showed at Pitti Uomo, the single most important fashion expo for international menswear. His showing in Pitti Uomo is a milestone in many regards not just because he is the first Nigerian designer with an indigenously created label to do so, but he is also the first Nigerian designer to successfully raise funds for a collection through Kickstarter, a crowdsourcing forum. Basically that means, people love his clothes enough to contribute towards a collection being made; inspiring on so many levels.

These are just a cross section of young Nigerian fashion influencers making a name for themselves internationally. It is on the Nigerian fashion industry, the collective of designers and patrons to not make the mistakes the West has made repeatedly and embrace these influencers, absorbing their unique outlook to the business and creative sides of fashion and replicating their successes on a larger scale. Even more importantly, recognizing these young influencers will give Nigeria with a fifty percent population under 25, newer and more accessible role models as well hopefully, encourage young Nigeria to turn away from Lil Wayne and Chris Brown and maybe spend a few thousand nairas for a legitimately licensed Wizkid t-shirt.

Come back tomorrow at 12pm for more of our September Issue!

Edwin

September Issue Introduction – The Nigerian Fashion Influencers

Many articles have been written about the phenomenal wave of growth that has swept through the Nigerian entertainment industry in the last decade and elevated it from a fledgling pariah avoided by many of Nigeria’s elite into a billion naira consortium lauded by everyone from the clothiers in Aba churning out unlicensed t-shirts with Wizkid and PSquare’s image printed them to the President who recently invited musician D’Banj to host an syndicated interview.

September Issue Introduction – The Nigerian Fashion Influencers Many articles have been written about the phenomenal wave of growth that has swept through the Nigerian entertainment industry in the last decade and elevated it from a fledgling pariah avoided by many of Nigeria’s elite into a billion naira consortium lauded by everyone from the clothiers in Aba churning out unlicensed t-shirts with Wizkid and PSquare’s image printed them to the President who recently invited musician D’Banj to host an syndicated interview.
Sep 01
Been a long time since a book gave me all the feels. White Oleander is great, I’d say way up there with The Bell Jar and Mira Corpora.

Been a long time since a book gave me all the feels. White Oleander is great, I’d say way up there with The Bell Jar and Mira Corpora.

Aug 31
#AugustChallenge And on Day 31, there was a selfie.

#AugustChallenge And on Day 31, there was a selfie.

Aug 30
The devil’s in the detailing. #OmogeMura #SeptemberIssue

The devil’s in the detailing. #OmogeMura #SeptemberIssue

Aug 30
#AugustChallenge Day thirty Hair. I have like ridiculous shrinkage issues.

#AugustChallenge Day thirty Hair. I have like ridiculous shrinkage issues.

Aug 29
#AugustChallenge Day Twenty Nine DUCK FACE. My lips look like very ugly labia. 💃💃💃

#AugustChallenge Day Twenty Nine DUCK FACE. My lips look like very ugly labia. 💃💃💃

Aug 28
Advice to live by.

Advice to live by.

Aug 27
#AugustChallenge Day 27 Siblings. This one is closer than family.

#AugustChallenge Day 27 Siblings. This one is closer than family.

Aug 25
#AugustChallenge Day 25 #OOTD  (experimenting with hi-lo knitwear).

#AugustChallenge Day 25 #OOTD (experimenting with hi-lo knitwear).

Aug 24
#AugustChallenge  Day TwentyFour Eyes. Lol. I just made a bad pun. 😺😃

#AugustChallenge Day TwentyFour Eyes. Lol. I just made a bad pun. 😺😃