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July 28 2014

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2 posts tagged "Jewel by Lisa"

Omoyemi Akerele Puts Nigerian Fashion In The Spotlight

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Omoyemi Akerele

Lagos, Nigeria—an oil-rich port city with an estimated population of 21 million people—is globally recognized as a fast-growing financial hub. However, it’s emerging as a cultural hotbed, too, with fashion at its forefront. Much of that is thanks to Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Style House Files—an on-site agency founded to “tirelessly position Lagos and Nigeria on the international fashion map.” In an exclusive interview, Akerele offered, “Nigerian fashion stands out. It tells a story of a diverse and dynamic culture, of historical references, and ultimately, commercial viability. It’s about trade, not aid.” Ahead of the city’s third annual Fashion and Design week, which begins on Wednesday, Akerele speaks to Style.com about the challenges facing local designers, the region’s immense untapped market, and what it means to not only advance but define Nigerian creativity as the country inches toward its remarkable potential.

How did you become Nigerian fashion’s mouthpiece?
My career in fashion started about eleven years ago, in styling and image consulting. Over time, I realized that there was room for a platform to act as a catalyst on the scene, to spearhead change and work toward positioning fashion as business in Nigeria—this is how Style House Files was born. We see our role as agents of change determined to make an impact, change the mind-set of people, and create opportunities where there might seem to be none.

Why might one think that opportunities aren’t present or viable?
Well, in a country with an estimated 150 to 160 million people, it surprises me to no end that no entrepreneur has seen the need to invest in a garment manufacturing company that can cater not just to fashion designers, but create opportunities for creating our own bigger retail brands in Nigeria. The traders and business scions in Aba—a local garment district in the southeast of the country—remain at the forefront of benefiting from this industry, but there’s got to be a re-engineering of people’s outlooks: for people to design and manufacture garments by us for our consumption. Continue Reading “Omoyemi Akerele Puts Nigerian Fashion In The Spotlight” »

Is Africa Fashion’s Next Big Thing?

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What’s the next big thing in fashion? Lately, signs are pointing to Africa. For starters, Franca Sozzani dedicated the entire May issue of L’Uomo Vogue to celebrating the continent’s intrinsic allure and creativity. This year’s International Herald Tribune Luxury conference will examine the growing African middle class as an emerging consumer as well as the region’s potential for manufacturing. And last night, Essence editor in chief Constance White led a panel discussion entitled Design Africa, where she and political journalist Chika Oduah held forth with Rogan and Loomstate co-founder Scott Hahn, Suno head of production Nadiyah Bradshaw, and Bantu swimwear designer Yodit Eklund about the future of design on the continent.

The consensus: There’s plenty to be done, but the potential is great. “China did not become China overnight,” Bradshaw said, going on to explain how at Suno, she helps Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty find ethical workshops and factories and effectively create needed job opportunities in places like Kenya. Panelists mused on the potential of African manufacturing and hoped that one day, a “Made in Nigeria” tag would be as highly regarded as a “Made in Italy” or a “Made in France” one.

In the meantime, people like panelist Enyinne Owunwanne (the founder of online African fashion retailer Heritage 1960) are working to promote Africa’s rising design stars. Owunwanne works with promising up-and-coming designers including Jewel By Lisa and The Summit, as well as artisans in South Africa, Nigeria, and Rwanda, which she features on her site. “Until recently, Africa has largely been underserved within the global fashion and design scene, but the continent has always been chock-full of amazingly talented designers and artists,” Owunwanne told Style.com. “It was only a matter of time before the world stage started to give due recognition to the talent stemming from Africa. Diasporan trailblazers such as Duro Olowu and Ozwald Boateng set the stage for an appreciation of African designers. The fashion industry has barely tipped the iceberg with African designers and inspiration coming from the continent, though. There is so much more to discover—this is truly just the beginning!”

Photos: Courtesy of Passion Projects NYC