For most people, the fashion industry in Nigeria is an already established sphere; while to others, it’s still in its growing phase. However the case, Nigeria has proven to be a country that houses a whole lot of talents. Although most keep trying to play it safe and not let out their creative abilities, there’s a new age of fashion designers that are presently exploring this space, and allowing the creativity they possess drive them.
It was such an honour, having a conversation with some of these young Nigerian menswear brands currently giving room for creativity, and pushing a narrative with the pieces they produce.
The French word, Larue translates to The Street in English. This brand is co-owned by Chukwuemeka Nnodum and Marius Abiola Isikalu, an iconic duo who draws inspiration and projects into their brand, everything the street represents – Humans, Background, Clothing, and even Ethnicity. The former freelance designers are popularly known for their Palazzo pants, and other really powerful designs. These test-run designs got a lot of attention, and that geared them to officially establish on May 2020.
Been a lover of leather, denims, mesh and other street wear fabrics, the University of Nottingham graduate, Emeka has said that the current pandemic has allowed them time to explore new aesthetics and other fabric choices. He further went on to say that the country’s lack of exposure has been some sort of sweet-bitter experience because whilst it (Nigeria) hasn’t necessarily been receptive to their design aesthetics, it has further helped to broaden their creative sphere, even to the production of powerful shoes.
A lot of designers aren’t creative in Nigeria. We are so conscious and afraid to push our sense of creativity; and it’s even more difficult if you have a very unique or different style. The country helps you push your boundaries, but it also doesn’t support your creativity; but putting ourselves above the opinions of others is one of our brands greatest strengths, and a basic foundation upon which it brand was built.
Established by the 24year old Jeremiah Segun, and 2016 University of Lagos graduate, the young creative is set to take the Nigerian menswear industry to a whole new level. Raised by very rigid parents, whose focus for him were restricted to good schools, good grades and very limited amount of friends, Jeremiah discovered his creative self at a very tender age. He knew how well he hated to be limited, his love for creation, the imaginative ideas his brain houses, and the loving thoughts of going through every creative processes.
After school, Jeremiah was introduced to Sisiano Paolo, a renowned Nigerian fashion designer, where he interned, with Sisiano his mentor. This further fueled his love for color grading, fabrics, drafting, eccentricity, runways, and a whole lot of thoughtful creative processes.
On March 2020, Jerre Official was established. Jeremiah admits that fashion is where he found himself most comfortable, and experiencing peace. On explanation of the brand, he says Originality and Sophistication are some of the brand’s strongest values. He wants every client to find pieces that speaks directly to them.
Regular has been overdone, and I’m tired. Everyone has a style, and I hope they find it in my pieces. I categorically draw the lines against stereotype because I know how limiting it can be, and also because I genuinely find the process of switching very intruiging.
He describes his label as Bold and Chic; before ending with an “I hope that one day men would look at themselves, see the need to break stereotypes, and comfortably wear their own vulnerabilities” note.
Izu, as he is popularly called describes himself as a creative writer and story teller. He explains that he’s channeled all of these harnessed skills into being a fashion designer, with hopes of telling African stories through his fashion label.
He went on to explain that he always knew how well he loved fashion designing, as he’s been making his uniforms since high school. Officially established on 27th May 2019, the brand focuses on the beauty of individuality and human physique in producing designs that are very relatable. He says he wishes to produce clothes that practically resonates with who wears them, bearing in mind that there has to be a very close connection.
The prominent feminist says he is looking to explore women’s wear design details which includes, but isn’t limited to accessories, stones, zips, buckles and even buttons. “As a storyteller, I understands that women are a huge part of the African history, and telling stories through my designs without women involved would make my stories incomplete”, he explains.
After the successful release of the label’s first collection – Symphonia, the awesome feedback has geared Zuny label into a planned release of a second collection – Dreadlocks. This collection would explore and delve deeper into the African heritage, as it recognizes and appreciates the presence of the African people and culture.
Nwosu official is a brand generally appreciated for the values it delivers. The fabric choices, design aesthetics, and intricate attention to details are what makes this menswear brand well celebrated. Joggling between a 9-5 and the successful run of this fashion label, Ikechukwu Nwosu, the creative head and founder is prepared to create his personal story in the menswear fashion industry.
The professional Microbiologist says that he hopes to continue the furtherance of his professional career, whilst also finding a balance with his fashion business. Ikechukwu explained that he’s been interested in Fashion Designing at a very tender time, thereby starting the official journey, January 2020.
“Nwosu official was intended to be a side gig. I didn’t start with the sole aim of making cash from my craft. I just needed a space to express myself and feel good in, until people began to show interest in what I did, and made orders afterwards”, he explains.
The Nwosu Official pieces involve a larger amount of a one-size fits all, with hopes to pushing both inclusivity and comfort in the pieces they produce. In the same vein, the brand hopes to positively shoulder gender equality, eradicate toxic masculinity, enlighten our younger generation on how thing are, as opposed to how they are supposed to be, and how important it is to appreciate our unique self’s.