Nigeria is a fashion powerhouse not only on the African continent, but globally. Numerous Nigerian fashion designers have won accolades for excellent work and their roles in expressing the Nigerian spirit, culture, and diversity. In this article, we recognize some Nigerian fashion brands who have succeeded in showcasing our black culture and diversity to the world. No doubt, they are placing Nigerian and African fashion on the global map.
1. TIFFANY AMBER
Owned by Folake Folarin–Coker, Tiffany Amber is a 20-year-old fashion and lifestyle brand with global appeal and a noticeable African attitude. The brand has won numerous accolades over the years including Designer of the year at the Inaugural African Fashion Week (AFI) in 2009 and Fashion Brand of the Year at the Arise Magazine Fashion Week in 2012, and it’s collections have been seen in some of the World’s most prestigious cities including New York, London, Milan, Paris and of course all over our beloved continent of Africa! The Tiffany Amber brand embodies the rich African culture and the high sophistication of fine living.
2. LISA FOLAWIYO
Lisa Folawiyo mastered the art of wearing the Ankara fabric through the use of elegant embellishment. The Lisa Folawiyo collection is fused with its very own African-inspired custom luxury prints and skillfully delivers contemporary garments. With a strong eye for tailoring and fit, Folawiyo creates feminine and modern silhouettes with nods to traditional African aesthetics. Lisa Folawiyo has shown its collections on international platforms – in Lagos and Johannesburg to London, Paris, Milan and New York; from Lagos Fashion & Design Week to New York Fashion Week to the Pitti W Tradeshow and the Vogue Talent Exhibition in collaboration with Vogue Italia.
3. DURO OLOWU
Nigerian born, London based, Duro Olowu is a household name in both the Nigerian and global fashion industry. In 2005, he was the first designer to be named New Designer of the Year at London Fashion Week without staging a catwalk show. At the African Fashion Awards in 2009, he was named the Best International Designer and was one of the six nominees for the Swiss Textile Federation’s top prize of 100,000 Euros. Both British and American Vogue in 2005 named his waist patchwork “Duro,” as the “Dress of the Year.” One of Olowu’s famous quotes is, “My job is not dictating to women what they should wear; it is presenting them with beautiful options.”
4. LANRE DA SILVA-AJAYI
Lanre da Silva Ajayi is a Lagos-based fashion designer considered to be one of Nigeria’s leading couturiers. Her eponymous label includes couture, ready-to-wear, jewellery and hairpieces. In 2011, da Silva presented her collection at New York Fashion Week, where it was described as combining “… the archetypal bright, warm colours of her homeland with refined ladylike silhouettes inspired by Italian architecture”. Seen as an African luxury brand, her clothing line has been sold at Dolce & Gabbana’s “Concept Spiga 2” store in Milan. In 2012, she was one of two designers asked to join the United Nations “Fashion Development Project” which helps supports the continent’s luxury industry. That same year her label was featured in the magazine L’Uomo Vogue in an issue called «Re-branding Africa».
In 2014, she was mentioned once more in Vogue Italia, where the designer spoke about meeting the magazine’s editor Franca Sozzani, who got her collection noticed and stocked at online fashion retailer yoox.com. Da Silva’s designs have also been featured in Vogue Black and Arise Magazine.
5. DEOLA SAGOE
Deola Sagoe is the founder of House of Deola and is the leading lady of African haute couture fashion. Deola has been at the cutting edge of high fashion since 1989 and became the first black woman to present a collection at AltaRoma, Rome’s celebrated fashion week, back in 2004. Her globally appealing style has earned her an enviable clientele that range from Africa's first ladies, to society girls like Lydia Hearst, top model Alek Wek, and famous personalities such as Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith. To be a style leader, a luxury brand has to have a strong mind and identity of its own. It is Deola’s unique signature style, as well as, bravery to challenge the rules, that has garnered her high-profile followers locally and abroad.
These are just a few fashion brands out of numerous that really showcase the uniqueness and the talent of African fashion industry. The African continent is proud to be home to these fashion icons.
However, we mustn’t forget our very own WAA FASHION (which stands for We Are Africa), a multi-brand African fashion boutique; designed in London and Made in Africa. Our fearless leader is none other than Annabelle Baiyewu, the founder and creative director. Based in London, born and raised in Nigeria, she often draws inspiration from her childhood landscape of the motherland. As a brand, we are proud to collaborate with a number of smaller Africa based brands and artisans with incredible talent and consistently deliver on quality and creativity. In 2019, we launched our own WAA clothing line which is a celebration of the vibrant cultures and colorful attitude of the Nigerian people. Our aim is to present African Fashion as an equal and worthy alternative to high street fashion.