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Afropolitan

Afropolitan

Spotlight on NKWO’s, Modernity S/S 16 Collection

Very recently, as I was perusing through Facebook, a collection showed up on my Feed from Nigerian designer Nkwo Onwuka, founder of her epynomous label: NKWO. With the images came this accompanying text:

‘After 2 years of trying, I finally achieved my goal – a 100% made in Africa collection.
Our new collection MODERNITY SS16 showcased at Lagos Fashion and Design Week…A very modern take on the buba and iro for women and the buba and sokoto for men…’

NKWO MODERNITY COLLECTIONAs I scrolled down to look at each piece from the collection, I was thoroughly taken in by the quirky use of raw materials like wooden pegs, sticks and ropes to create accessories, manipulation of fabrics, cool and light Spring/Summer palette, shapely aesthetic, distressed detailing, the clever use of fashioning the denim pieces into turbans (you KNOW I love a good turban)…I could go on… This collection is a perfect example of how Nigerian designers fuse their heritage and tradition with Western culture to create contemporary and wearable pieces.

Keen to learn more about her collection, I got in touch with Nkwo, and here is what she had to say:

MFSL: What was the inspiration behind your S/S 16, Modernity Collection?

NKWO: I was inspired to do a collection that had a modern take on Africa. Over the years I’ve researched and worked with artisans in Nigeria, many of whom are probably the last in their line of craft. Some of their processes are time-consuming and outdated, as a result, the artisans and their children feel that a more ‘Western” way of life is the best way forward. In my opinion, a lot of handcrafts are being lost as there is a general lack of understanding of just how valuable these traditions are.  I feel that a deeper understanding of these traditions will move us towards innovation and a new way of thinking that is not Western but truly modern and that is what inspired the collection.

MFSL: You mentioned that your collection was a modern take on the Buba and Iro for women and the Buba and Sokoto for men- tell us more about that.

NKWO: The Buba and Iro/Sokoto pronounced “boo-bah and ee-roh/sho-koh-toh” is a classic and traditional style of dress, which consists of a simple wide-sleeved top and wrapper or trousers. It is a long-standing part of traditional West African culture, predominant among the Yoruba people of South West Nigeria. My modern interpretation of  this most traditional form of dress worked as a great starting point in the transition from tradition to modernity.

MFSL: What fabrics did you use in your MODERNITY collection?

NKWO: I used denim, organza and aso- oke which is a local West African handwoven textile. There were also decorative panels of hand-made lace and sisal.

NKWO NIGERIAN DESIGNERNKWO NIGERIAN DESIGNERMFSL: I love the use of denim in this collection, I think it’s a very clever and commercial way to make the pieces crossover effortlessly from Nigeria to an international market. Was this your thought process/what motivated you to use denim?

NKWO: As the collection is all about portraying Africa in a modern way,denim was the most modern fabric I could think of using. It was readily available to me here in Nigeria,it reminded me of our traditional indigo and it was perfect for the elements of deconstruction that ran through the collection. From a business point of view, the universal appeal of denim meant that it was a great way for the pieces to cut across global markets.

5. MFSL: What was the biggest challenge you faced making a 100% Made In Africa collection?

NKWO:Thankfully, I didn’t really have much of a challenge this time…I tried to do a 100% Made In Africa collection 2 years ago and learnt a lot of lessons, so I was well prepared. The only thing that went wrong was that the shoes we designed for the collection, got delivered to us a week after the show!!!

 MFSL: Really?! How did you overcome that obstacle?

NKWO: Innovation kicked in…I bought flip-flops from the market, sprayed them white and then tied short wooden pegs on all of them!

NKWOnkwo4MFSL: Ingenious, Brava! When I look at the menswear pieces in your collection, I see it being worn by all the cool, male Street Style Bloggers across the globe. Do you follow street style bloggers/platforms and do they influence your work?

NKWO: Oh wow! My husband will be happy to hear that! He was actually the muse for my menswear…I was inspired by his style.

MFSL: Well I certainly take my hat off to him!  What year did you launch your brand and bring out your first collection?

NKWO: The brand was launched in 2007 and the first collection debuted that year at the prestigious Kulture2Couture, where we won the coveted Phoenix Award presented by the Mayor of London’s office, in conjunction with the V&A museum.

NKWONKWO S/S 16 COLLECTIONMFSL: When you think of your first collection and your most recent- in what way do you think you’ve changed the most both as a designer and business woman?

NKWO: Over the years my confidence as a designer and business woman has strengthened considerably. For my debut collection, I did  printed silk wrap dresses and large feather neckpieces way before anybody else…it was so new and far ahead of it’s time but I didn’t have a strong enough conviction in what I was doing. Same thing applies to the business side of things, listening to too many voices cost me a lot of great opportunities!

MFSL: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?

NKWO: There have been far too many to mention but the opportunity to travel to amazing places and meet lots of great people has to rank high up there somewhere 🙂

NKWONKWOMFSL: What main piece of advice would you give to aspiring designers?

NKWO: Keep focused and remember that creativity will only get you so far, the business side of things is so important!

MFSL: Where can your pieces be bought?

NKWO: The pieces are still in production at the moment but will be available in stores in West and East Africa, UK, USA and very shortly at our online store.

MFSL: With LFDW, Kampala fashion week and the Mercedes-Benz fashion show in Johannesburg  all taking place recently, all eyes are on Africa. What do you think of the current state of ‘African Fashion’?

NKWO: I would just like us to get to the point where ‘African Fashion” is not defined by print!!!  It seems all too often that the eyes on us only want to see fashion from Africa in a certain way.

MFSL: I concur wholeheartedly! Finally, you must have been very busy recently finishing of this collection, what do you to unwind?

NKWO: Unwind? What is that???
And there we have it Readers, isn’t she fab?! I get so excited about the creative talent we have pouring out of Nigeria…I have to say those navy blue and white striped harem-style trousers worn by the male model are calling out to me, I need them in my life! Now back to you, which is your favourite piece from Nkwo’s Modernity collection?

 

Afropolitan

He Got Style

This week the boy’s are giving the girls a run for their money in the style department.  Detailed accessories, Sharp Tailoring, Nigerian Traditional Wear, Playing With Print, Balancing Proportions…these boys are taking it all in their stride.

#TeamDandy

African Dandy Style

Styleforum.net

Mr Casual Smart Fabulousity

Menswear Blue Coat

mjandstuff.wordpress.com

Mr Culture Vulture

Menswear Trenchcoat

Louisphilippedegagoue

Fresh Prince Of…

he6Mr Bomb-Ass

Menswear Bomber Jacket

Tolupoyigi.com

Lil’ Red Cutey

Nigerian Traditional Wedding Attire For Children

Bellanaija

This week I’m all about Lil’ Red Cutey and Mr Culture Vulture.  With Lil’ Red Cutey, I love the intricate print on his red Fila (lil’ hat), Buba (Top) and Sokoto (trousers).  As for Mr Culture Vulture, his accessories just scream, ‘I’m back from travelling round the world and look what I got!’: Its eclectic style at its best!

Which look/s get your vote?

Afropolitan

Nigerians Do Glamour: Aso Ebi Wedding Blues

This week in my Nigerians Do Glamour series: Aso  Ebi is True Blue.  When it comes to Aso Ebi Wedding Styles, blue is a very popular colour.  How popular you ask? Well the following pictures answer that question better than I ever could. From light baby blue to their moody and darker sibling; mixed with other prints or standing proud on its own, emblazoned on sumptuous velvet or spread across decadent lace: the following ladies are Singn’ The Blues in style.

  1. Blue Lace N Then Some

Nigerian Wedding Aso Ebi Blue Lace Blouse 2. Blue With A Dash Of Silver

Nigerian Wedding Aso Ebi Blue and Silver

Pinterest

3. Blue Velvet Meets Fuschia Pink

Nigerian Wedding Aso Ebi Blue Velvet

Completefashion

4. Blue With Butter Yellow And Gold

Nigerian Wedding Aso Ebi Blue Yellow Gold

Completefashion

5. Blue Victorian Era Inspiration

Nigerian Traditional Blue Blouse and Blue Ankara Print Skirt

Citinewstv

6. #TeamBlue

Nigerian Traditional Aso Ebi Blue And Green

Ikastube.com

7. Blue Feathers and Velvet

asoebi28. Aqua Blue Delight

Ankara Blue Top and Skirt

Citinewstv

9. Cute In Blue

Ankara Print Blouse and Short Ankara Print Skirt

Ikastube.com

I don’t know about y’all but these fab looks make me want to grab my phone, call my tailor and put her to work…but it’s 6.50 a.m. on a Sunday morning…but I still want to call her…erm…

Moving on, I’m all about Ms Cute In Blue, the skirt is ultra-feminine and that dapper Ankara print bow tie is everything.  Throw in the buttoned up blouse and you have an ensemble that’s quirky, sexy, cute, retro, masculine, feminine and I love that rich n heady mix.

How about you, which look gets your vote?

Afropolitan

Top Blog Comment Of The Week: xocara.com

If you follow my blog, you’ll know I’ve been silent on the blogging front for quite a while now.  Why?  Well, to make a long story not very long, September was the toughest month I’ve had in a while, both professionally and personally.  And as much as I wanted to burrow a hole in the ground and hibernate till next summer, I had to keep my shit together because September was the month the filming of my TV show took place, I had to fly from Berlin to London to work, and then to Lagos for even more work…

But I’m only human and something had to give, and that something was my blog, I had to step away from my baby and blogging in general for a while.  During my Blog Hiatus, I did have my doubts on how to return to blogging…whether I still had the strength and motivation to say what I wanted to say through my blog…how to make my blog better content and layout-wise…

And then a few days ago, I got this lovely message from one of my fellow bloggers, Cara from xocara.com.  I’ve made it very clear that Blog Comments are the fuel to my blog and this one gave me L.I.F.E.  Big thanks Cara!

‘I have MAJORLY missed you. I know you are probably busy filming, but please hurry up and come back soon!!!! <3′

This fellow readers is why I blog…

I can’t finish this post without giving due props to Cara because hers is one of the blogs that I genuinely look forward to reading.  Instead of blabbing on and on about how much I like her blog, I’ll reel of some reasons why her blog keeps me coming back for more:

  1. For me blogging is a journey, and I’ve enjoyed reading about Cara’s through text and images.  Her posts show how she goes about balancing motherhood (she has the coooootest lil’ boys) and expanding on her passions, which include travel, fashion, photography….

How fab is her Afro?!

2. I really like her speaking voice, from reading her posts and seeing how she puts words together, its obvious that ‘This Girl Sabi Read Book O!!!’…erm, i.e. she is a lover of books.

cara33. I love seeing pictures of her two boys.

cara24. It’s interesting to see her fashion and photography grow from strength to strength.

cara5So now I’ve whetted your interest, read Cara’s blog here.

Afropolitan

Nigerian Fashion Bloggers That Inspire: The Fashion Engineer/Sayedero Enytan

Yes, I’ve been away for more than a minute and will go into more detail as to why later, right now I want to tell you a stylish tale…
Once upon a time, not too many moons ago, having decided that African Fashion would be the core of my blog, I decided to do some research to discover the popular fashion bloggers in Nigeria. Honestly speaking, I wasn’t expecting to find a voice or style I could relate much too…now don’t get me wrong, I knew there were Naija stylish babes, but it’s one thing to know how to put an outfit together and quite another to portray your looks on a blog creatively with a unique voice to boot. That’s why when I stumbled upon, The Fashion Engineer created by the fab one-of-a-kind-kinda-gal, Sayedero Enytan, I knew I’d struck, ‘Blogger-Gold’.

fa1What’s behind the name of her blog title?, I hear you ask. Well, like me, Sayedero comfortable straddles two (and then some) professions: electrical engineer and fashion & beauty aficionado.
Since she started her blog in January 2012, I’ve seen her blog grow from strength to strength: the photography got better, she’s a contributing writer for one of Africa’s leading retail sites, Jumia, her blog is now delving into health and fitness…

fa9I’ve wanted to meet her for a while now and a few days ago, I got the opportunity to chitty chat with her as we sipped on yummy Chapmans at my new favourite hang-out: Bogobiri House (V.I).

fa6MFSL: Hey Sayedero, first things first: where’s your name from?
Sayedero: It’s Yoruba and means, God has made my life easy.
MFSL: Powerful stuff, now, what made you start blogging?
Sayedero: At university, I was constantly asked where I got my clothes and accessories from, how I did my make up etc, so I decided to create a platform (via a blog) to show people where I got my pieces from, and how I put my beauty looks together.

fa11MFSL: How did your blog grow from that to the power-house it is today? Because it’s one thing to create a blog to show your style and beauty looks, but it’s quite another thing to run a blog as a business, which is what you today.
Sayedero: Well, when my blog began to generate a lot of traffic, fashion and beauty companies began to contact me to wear or try their products for free, and that’s how the business element of my blog began.

fa4MFSL: Following your blog for so long, I’ve seen so many changes.  Focusing on the design and tech aspects, do you collaborate with anyone in those areas?
Sayedero: I like to learn and do a lot of the technical stuff by myself, but I do have an I.T guy that I work with as well.

MFSL: Following on from that, how would you say blogging has made you more techy-savvy?

Sayedero: Oh my gosh, I’ve learnt so many things. For example, I now know how to code, which I never thought I would ever be able to do! I can also help people set up their blogs, making sure it features a decent theme, add plug-ins…I advise on SEO, how to increase traffic and so on.

fa2MFSL: That’s pretty impressive, how did you teach yourself all these skills?
Sayedero: By researching online, also a lot of bloggers write really helpful articles on the topic and share what worked for them.
MFSL: Out of all the measures out there to grow traffic like leaving comments on people’s blogs, making nice with Google Analytics etc, what tactic worked best for you?
Sayedero: Sharing my blog posts on Social Media. Especially when I share posts on the Facebook pages of various Nigerian fashion-related groups.
MFSL: So tell me more about the fab hairstyles you’ve been sporting made up of every shade of the rainbow.
Sayedero: I sell wigs, and when it comes to my coloured wigs, I dye them myself.

fa3MFSL: So you customize wigs, you can contour and strobe with the best of ’em, you have great style, then there is the electrical engineering background: so career-wise, what does Sayedero want?
Sayedero: Honestly, I’m still in the process of figuring that out but in the future, I would like to be a designer.
MFSL: I can tell from your blog credits, that you are all about online fashion, which are your favourite stores?
Sayedero: Konga and Jumia. That’s the great thing about African fashion now, with emerging and affordable designers now being able to sell on these platforms: there’s now a brand for every pocket.

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MFSL: A few stores have popped up in Lagos like Grey Velvet and Stranger which stock established and emerging African designers, do you shop in any of them?
Sayedero (laughs): Noooo, they’re too expensive!
MFSL: Before I discovered your blog, I thought that as a Nigerian blogger, it would be near impossible to be a personal style blogger who shows new looks on a weekly basis, because we don’t have a High Street here. But your blog forced me to take several seats in that department…
Sayedero: Funny you should say that, I’m actually going to start repeating pieces more to show my audience how to generate X number of looks from 1 item.  With regards to my access to clothes, a lot of the big online stores like ASOS.com and Boohoo.com ship to Nigeria. I’m also lucky to have fashion and accessory brands give me their products for free.

fa8MFSL: What challenges have you faced as a personal style blogger based in Nigeria?
Sayedero: I’ve been told that I should change my style to make it more mass-friendly, but my style is my style and I’m not changing! Also it can be hard when you put a lot of effort into your blog and you don’t see the rewards by way of traffic. There have been some weeks when I ask, ‘What’s happening to my traffic??!’  To partner with brands, you need that traffic, so it’s very important to me.

fa12MFSL: Who are your favourite African fashion designers?
Sayedero: I love Maki Oh.
MFSL: What blogs do you follow?
Sayedero: Atlantic-Pacific, Style Pantry, Olori Swank, Locks & Trinkets and Winston & Willow.
MFSL: Instagram Vs Blogging?
Sayedero: Blogging.
MFSL: YaaaaaY! Everyone I’ve asked that question to goes for Instagram.
Sayedero: But Instagram is where it’s at, I’m on it and have people who help me update it.

fa14MFSL: And finally, since your blog does so well at breaking down trends. What trends have you GaGa at the moment?
Sayedero: Full midi-skirts, cape blazers and gladiator heels.
MFSL: Gladiator heels, you mean that horrible contraption that come up to your knees and strangle your legs whilst doing so?
Sayedero: I love them!
MFSL: Well, they’re hard to pull off as they have a weight-limit, but I’m sure you can rock the Bo Jangles out of them! Sayedero, it was such a pleasure!

fa7Now, now, nooooow hard as it will be, which is your favourite Sayedero Look? For me, no diggity doubt, it’s her ‘All White & Tight’ look. I look at it and just think, ‘B.O.S.S’. I can also see Dame Cookie (Empire) rocking this look during one of the shows b.s Board Meeting meets Harlem Ghetto scenes. Urgh, I can’t stand that show, but I digress…

The Fashion Engineer in all its fab creative glory can be perused here.

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Sayedero and I @ Bogobiri House, V.I.

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