Lagos Rising: Meet the African designers who are entering the new fashion guard


“Traditional handwoven fabrics such as Aso Oke and Akwete have seen continued favor in modern fashion, while locally produced Adire cloth has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity.”

In the year At the weekend of GTCO Fashion Week 2022 in Lagos – GTBank’s annual two-day fashion expo – a selection of fifteen designers, local and international, will present their latest collections, each with their own unique label and approach. Individually, each show was a feast for the eyes, but viewed in sequence, these runway shows served as a good example of the differences that Google’s search algorithms have so far not tagged.

In fact, over the years Ankara fabrics, mainly imported from the Netherlands, have increasingly graced the high fashion runways of Lagos. Meanwhile, traditional handlooms such as Aso Oke and Akwete have gained enduring favor in modern fashion, while locally produced Adire fabrics (tia-dye), batik (wax-dye) and other handicrafts have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity.

Davos wore a David Tlale beaded top. Photo by Keith Major for EBONY Media.

As global demand for African fashion continues to grow, more and more people are realizing the industry’s potential beyond mere rhetoric. Meet four African designers at the forefront of this movement.

Fashion is about conversation, and Ghanaian/US-based label Studio 189 is one brand that has a lot to say. In the year Started in 2013 by Ghanaian native Abrama Erwia and founder Rosario Dawson, social change is at the heart of the brand, whose ready-to-wear pieces in Ghana celebrate family, heritage and community.

No stranger to Kente clothing, the famous fabric is the basis for many of Studio 189’s standout pieces. Their SS23 collection showcases Kente’s versatility, as he is known for, carefully using yellow varieties in favor of alternating colors.

Davo is wearing a Studio 189 blazer and ARIABA jewelry. Photo by Keith Major for EBONY Media.

In addition to the iconic fabrics, each garment in the collection tells its own story, as home-grown fabrics are complemented by low-impact colors for a multi-sensory and technicolor experience in classic Studio 189 fashion. The designers used the new season to remind their audience of their ability to layer, with seamless prints and patches from the fabric being sculpted into fun and playful silhouettes.

“Fashion is political, and designers, like politicians, can use their influence to solve society’s problems or cover up the injustices around them.”

Rebecca is wearing a studio189 top and skirt and ARIABA jewelry. Davo is wearing a Studio 189 dress, ARIÁBA jewelry and stylist shoes. Photo by Keith Major for EBONY Media.

Beyond the outfit, Studio 189 champions personality and authenticity above all else. In the year At GTCO Fashion Week 2022, the designers invited their models to ditch fashion’s trademark stoicism, and instead smile and dance down the runway. Over the years, this curatorial quirk has become a staple for the brand, whose runway shows are always elegant, light-hearted and uplifting. While defying runway convention, in what often feels like a pool of monotony, Studio 189 is undoubtedly a breath of fresh air.

Rebecca is wearing a studio189 top and skirt and ARIABA jewelry. Davo is wearing a Studio 189 dress, ARIÁBA jewelry and stylist shoes. Photo by Keith Major for EBONY Media.

While Nigeria is known as Africa’s premier fashion destination, it is South Africa that has produced what can be described as an onslaught of amazing design talent for centuries. One of the best and brightest is Johannesburg-born designer David Thiel, whose stellar designs have wowed audiences at fashion weeks around the world, from Paris to New York and of course Lagos.

“David Tlale’s eponymous brand is a unique take on luxury – rooted in the designer’s South African heritage, but with a traditional look and sensibility.”

David Thiel has a distinct fashion philosophy, combining fluidity, modernity and sensuality to create timeless and provocative pieces. The brand is a unique take on luxury – rooted in the designer’s South African heritage, but with a traditional look and sensibility. In the year Launched in 2003, Tlal was awarded the Best Fashion Designer of the Year award at the African Fashion Awards held in Johannesburg. Since then, he has built a reputation as one of the most popular players in the industry.

Davo is wearing a David Thale dress and beaded top, and the stylist’s own shoes. Photo by Keith Major for EBONY Media.

As his latest collection shows, Tlale’s prints easily stand out against his contemporaries. While the designer’s signature color for Spring/Summer 2023 is green (seen in various shades throughout the collection), pink, white and yellow also effortlessly come into play, creating patterns and colorways that evoke a sense of youth and nostalgia. Especially David Tlale. It’s the perfect marriage of color and texture, but with that extra layer of craftsmanship that makes every shopper feel like a muse.

Davo is wearing a David Thale dress and beaded top, and the stylist’s own shoes. Rebecca is wearing a David Thale shirt and bodysuit, ARIÁBA jewelry and stylist shoes. Photo by Keith Major for EBONY Media.

Pepper Row

If movement and structure are mutually exclusive, few tread the line between the two more skillfully than Lagos-based Pepper Row. In the year Founded in 2018 by Omafume Nimoga, Pepper Row has created dozens of unique pieces, as colorful and diverse as the city that embodies its spirit.

Nimoga collaborates with local artisans to create original designs and textiles, from hand-woven aso oke textiles to plant-dyed Adire fabrics. These are fun and practical, used to create wearable works of art with zero waste. For Spring/Summer 2023, Pepper Row has revisited many of the elements that have come to define the brand, from multi-colored, striped clothing to signature detailing.

Rebecca is wearing a Pepper Row dress and earrings, ARIABA ring and Stylist shoes. Davo is wearing Pepper Row pants, an ARIÁBA necklace, and the stylist’s own shoes. Photo by Keith Major for EBONY Media.

At Gitko Fashion Wind, Nimoga models walked to the beat of Fela Kuti’s ‘Let’s Begin’, a Yoruba-infused record beat and pentatonic rhythms that were a callback from decades ago. Pepper Row reimagines and adapts traditional elements for a contemporary audience, giving a new voice to conversations around cultural preservation and sustainable design practices in the process.

Fashion is political, and designers, like politicians, can use their influence to address societal problems or cover up the injustices around them. At every fashion week in Lagos, creative director Frank Aguno seems to ask a fundamental question: What is the place of fashion in a society plagued by classism, gender-based discrimination and many other social problems? Moreover, how can fashion capture the generations eager to address these issues in their everyday lives?

“What is the place of fashion in a society marred by class differences, gender discrimination and many other social problems?”

Fruche is the answer – a brand whose aesthetic appeal acts like a magnet that draws its audience into a sea of ​​social commentary. For Spring/Summer 2023, Aghuno conceived his ‘Finish Look’ collection in homage to the Niger Delta as his ancestral home, where he found inspiration in the shirt dresses and traditional wraps worn by men. A review of our concepts of gender clothing.

Rebecca is wearing a Fruchen top and ARIABA jewelry. Photo by Keith Major for EBONY Media.

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Fruche takes symbolism to a higher level, telling stories about colonization, pollution, inequality and migration through strong visual symbols. Upcycled denim and ‘Ghana Must Go’ nylons meet asso oke, silk and organza, creating an unparalleled visual universe that invites closer inspection. Through this medium, Fruche holds up a mirror to society and urges us to look within.

Rebecca is wearing a Fruchen dress and skirt, ARIABA jewelry and stylist shoes. Davo is wearing a French shirt and pants, and ARIABA jewelry. Photo by Keith Major for EBONY Media.

Photography credits
Photo director Keith Major
the host ENIAFE MOMODU
STYLIST The beginning of Moses
Models REBECCA FABUNMI, DAVOU PWAJOK
Makeup artist David Onjdke
Photo assistant Taiwo Arifayan
Production assistant ODAFE OBOH
Style assistant Supply OZIC
BTS photographer OJ Mayana

Video credits
the host ENIAFE MOMODU
Assistant film director TSEYINMI OMATSEYE
Director of photography MIRET “EMSY” LONGCHI
First assistant camera Edward IKPAT
Second assistant Camera Recovery ADIDAPO
Third assistant camera / drone pilot TRANKGOD EYEREGBA
Production assistant Olukayode Akinboro
Video editors MIRET “EMSY” LONGCHI, LORD OBAFEMI
Color grading Edward IKPAT
Audio editor GCLEF





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