Downtown’s Fashion Powerhouses
No matter the outfit, whether in a wedding gown or an evenly trimmed kaftan for men, stylish wardrobes to suit any occasion are the deliberate impression that creative fashion designers care to make on you, the consumer. Although there is no limit to the depository of designers and their curious art, not all have put in sufficient work that shows them like in a mirror, competing on an international stage like those we have in mind. Those who have made it up to DOWNTOWN’s list stand out because of the unique concept they are projecting and for the artistic presence in their designs. They have stirred attention from the crowds observing a runway above, and sometimes, renowned world celebrities owe them gratitude for coming up with ideas that help them feel and look good.
Thanks to her profound ingenuity, colourful ankara fabric now has a symbolic hold on stylish audiences rummaging for new ideas across the fashionisphere. Such is the character created by Lisa Folawiyo whose name has morphed into a fashion brand that Lupita Nyong’o, Nigerian and international runways are familiar with. Her works feature astonishing frills on the fabric, therefore the ingenious reimagining of ankara that is suitable for all kinds of settings including evening mixers, the workplace, and everywhere. Folawiyo’s influence runs deep into pop culture. Into the lives of a young generation of women who are mostly African – their strength and resolve to triumph over barriers is captured in how Ankara looks good on them getting things done.
Ade Bakare transcends beyond runways. Movie set directors covet his exceptional vision when it comes to creating styles and costumes to fit on-screen characters. Another quality that sticks out about this designer who shuttles between Nigeria and the Uk is his appeal to a diverse clique of women across the globe – those who care to achieve the look of a champion. Traditional West African fashion components such as Adire can be merged with other fabrics to create an experience. Along with this are kaftans, gazar and organza sweep coats – they have ensured that public attention ever remained on the designer’s Ade Bakare Couture brand.
It has been a long time coming before Deola Ade-Ojo of the House of Deola Sagoe found a committed following for the Komole Collection; designs she has seen evolve into what brides craved to be pictured in at their weddings. Komole considers a balanced blend of lace and Aso Oke fabric which came about due to 20 years of consistently inventing. It does not only speak to bridal interest but has also widened an appeal for occasion outfits. Being able to satisfy multiple market segments has made it possible for the designer to reach local customers and curious listeners abroad.
At a time when expectations are high and making demands for a sustainable fashion industry, designer Bubu Ogisi is resetting the landscape and she is cutting down waste through recycling of fibres, plastic, and hemp which formed a strong base to support the exploration into the mind and spirituality. This deep crossing often gives an artsy feel under Bubu Ogisi’s IAMISIGO fashion label. It has fitted designs on the shoulders of international celebrities and had been shown to a crowd at the New York Fashion Week.
It could get really artsy with bright colours going along with peculiar patterns. Through all that noise is pictured Nigerian-British fashion designer Duro Olowu, standing alone under the umbrella of his niche, where inspiration is drawn from actual things in the environment such as artwork by painters. This is one of the avenues through which the designer channels his re-imagination of what fashion and a dress should look like. This, of course, is one of the reasons he has been quite successful at keeping the audience spellbound.
Several years at it cultivating custom-made corporate designs, mainly suits and traditional dresses have made multi-skilled tailor Ohimai Atafo the desired fixer for C-suite leaders. Interestingly, this isn’t a complete view of all the audiences he is currently serving. Looking slightly over five years back to the wedding boom in Nigeria, before long pandemics, Mai Atafo, his fashion label had been serving hearts and he keeps on. So capable at this, it has brought on a specialised brand, Weddings by Mai Atafo which has made it to the costume deck of a prominent Nigerian cinema hit.