2017 was a great year for fashion. Heineken Lagos Fashion and Design Week (LFDW) stepped it up by drawing a constellation of South African mega designers and bringing the world’s press to see the best of African fashion. The GTBank Fashion Weekend (GT Fshn Wknd) reminded us that Nigerians will support brands if they are given a platform and an avenue to interact with the brains behind them. 2017 was also a year that a number of younger designers stepped up to the plate and took up the mantle of advancing African fashion.
With 2018 on the horizon, these are the designers whose work we are dying to see.
Abiola Olusola has become Nigerian fashion’s wunderkind in just two short years on the Nigerian fashion circuit. With an international degree in fashion and a predilection for Nigerian prints, Olusola’s fantastic Spring 18 showing at the 2017 HLFDW and her surprise collaboration with fabric giant Vlisco shows she not only has the talent but the gumption to take on the bigwigs of Nigerian fashion.
Emmanuel Okoro’s label has been on the scene for a while now and has even shown at the South African Menswear Fashion Week in 2016 and 2017. But being chosen for the 2017 HLFDW Fashion Focus programme pushed the designer from the safety of earth tones and suit staples to really design. His collection shown at the HLFDW 2017 runway was one of the most vibrant and innovative uses of traditional Igbo fabric Akwete which catapulted him right into the circle of champions.
After a year-long hiatus and an absence from the 2017 HLFDW, Frank Aghuno has been quietly consolidating his fashion label Fruché through a series of retail partnerships with premium Nigerian retail stores. However, it is high time he got back into the ring and reminded us why the brand has captured our imaginations so thoroughly since its debut in 2014. Perhaps we might see more straight to retail pieces in the coming year or the avant-garde costumes that helped it win the second edition of the Fayrouz L’Original competition.
Henry Uduku’s eponymous brand was created to provide ‘uniform’ for our daily lives that build personalities. Understanding the everyday needs of stylish people is how Uduku has built his brand and grown his followership, creating staples that are durable, excellently tailored and stylish without being obtrusive. To achieve this, Uduku ditched the conventional calendar and collection format, favouring capsule collections and peer to peer marketing to get his brand into the closets of prospective customers. In 2018, he is expanding his label to cater for women and experimenting with accessories.
Demure by Denike
Denike has built her followership as a fashion blogger, modelling her own creations and presenting herself as an alternative to the conventional beauty standards our industry favours. Her label Demure by ‘Denike riffs off this unconventionality and otherness and offers women a different idea of what stylish can mean with traditional dyeing and printing techniques. She was shortlisted for the 2018 LFDW Fashion Focus and is building a viable label under her brand dedicated to creating bespoke bridal experiences for young millennial women looking for a designer who understands their point of view.