The Fashion Industry in Nigeria has indeed come of age. This is obvious in the fact that our prints and designs are seen across the globe both in movies and the front pages of fashion magazines.
It certainly did not start where it is today, as the industry has transformed from just being the regular ‘cut’ and ‘sew’ industry to a big market with huge opportunities with an enormous value chain.
And through the years, the country has witnessed changes in the fashion designs with each season featuring designs that rock the showrooms of these creative Entrepreneurs.
It is with this in mind that we bring you some of Nigeria’s finest designers who have shaped the fashion Industry in the last 2 decades.
FUNMI RUFAI LADIPO
Funmi Ajila Rufai Ladipo won an award as fashion designer of the year, in 1987/1988, then she had just graduated from school and was about 24 years old at the time. Having studied fashion designing at the Yaba College of Technology and before then enrolled at the Federal School of Arts and Science.
She had actually started out in life with law in mind, but when her mother saw the creative ability she possessed, she advised her to opt for fashion designing. Funmi Ladipo had started out in the Fashion Business World at a time when not too many people were interested in the idea itself.
Coming from Ekiti state, a part of Nigeria where you are either a Lawyer, a Medical Doctor Engineer and the likes, Funmi Ladipo’s Father did not fully accept the idea what being a Fashion designer entailed until he attended a fashion show in Washington DC with an American family friend. When he returned home, he apologized to his daughter and began supporting her having observed that the calibre of people that attended the event were the power brokers in Washington DC.
She is currently the president of the Nigerian Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria for a second term running.
Deola Sagoe is a renowned Nigerian fashion designer, entrepreneur and founder of The House of Deola Sagoe. Her unique approach of designing lively and colorful prints has earned her a global following including notable personalities such as Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith, who have recognized her for her celebration of African prints.
Having launched her career in 1989, Sagoe has a Masters Degree in Finance and Management and has studied at both University of Lagos and University of Miami. She is a woman with many layers and this is reflected in her multilayered designs. Her signature designs, Attitude and Elegance, draw their inspiration from fabrics with a traditional Nigerian touch and western aesthetics.
Omoyemi Akerele is the founder and executive director of Style House Files, a fashion business development agency that primarily focuses on the Nigerian and African Fashion Industry. She launched the Lagos Fashion and Design Week and her creative development agency gives African brands the opportunity of showcasing on Pitti Immagine in Italy and the Lagos Fashion and Design Week.
Omoyemi attended the University of Lagos where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Law. She proceeded to the University of Warwick where she received a master’s degree in International Economic Law.
In 2015, Omoyemi made the Business of Fashion 500 (BoF), an exclusive list made up of blue-chip businesses and creative upstarts that help shape the $1 trillion fashion industry. Based on hundreds of nominations received from current members on the BoF list, data analysis and months of research on the nominees and a thorough search accross the entire globe, the BoF 500 list showcases Entrepreneurs who have proven their creativity, investment and passion towards the global fashion industry.
Lisa Folawiyo is a Nigerian fashion designer who is best known for incorporating traditional West African textiles with modern tailoring techniques with an emphasis on beading and sequin trim.
Lisa Folawiyo has showrooms in Nigeria as well as New York. Celebrities such as Issa Rae have worn her pieces. Rae wore a cummerbund dress to the BET Presents the American Black Film Festival Honors. Her collections are also showcased in the US, the UK, Nigeria and South Africa. In 2012, she was featured in Vogue Italia. Some of her Awards include Africa Fashion Award (2012),
One of eight emerging talents by WWD Women’s Wear Daily (2014), Featured in the BOF500 (2015), she perfected the art of wearing Ankara (local West African cloth) through the use of ornate embellishment. By incorporating texture with this culturally established traditional textile, Lisa Folawiyo transformed the textile and created a globally coveted print. This conceptual and global design hybrid has been the key to Lisa Folawiyo ʼs success.
Her fashion brand, “Tiffany Amber” was launched in Lagos in 1998. The brand has four stand alone stores and boutiques in Lagos and Abuja. She has staged several fashion shows in Africa, Europe and the United States.
In 2008, she made history as the first African-based fashion designer to stage a show twice at the New York Fashion Week. She was the first recipient of the “Designer of the Year” award at the African fashion week in Johannesburg in 2009 and was also awarded “Fashion Brand of the Year” at the ARISE Magazine Fashion week in 2011.
In 2013, she received an Enterprise Award at the 2013 Women, Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) Symposium and made the Forbes Power women list. She unveiled her ‘Nirvana’ spring/summer collections at DOII Designs launch.
EJIRO AMOS TAFIRI
Ejiro Amos Tafiri is a Nigeria fashion designer. She is the originator of Ejiro Amos Tafiri (E.A.T) brand which was established to meet the fashion needs of a modern woman.
Ejiro is an indigene of Delta state,she was born in the city of Lagos. Her love for fashion started at tender age of 3 years through the influence of her grand mum who was then her tailor. She was expected by her parents to study medicine but she opted for clothing and design at Yaba College of Technology.
Ejiro started her brand in the year 2010. In the year 2015, E.A.T brand called “The Madame”,a collection of her master piece was showcased at Native & Vogue Port Harcourt Fashion Week and Dakar Fashion Week and Kenya Fashion Week respectively.
Modupe-Oreoluwa Oyeyemi Ola (born October 16, 1990), known by her stage name Mo’Cheddah (sometimes stylized as Mocheedaor Mocheddah), is a Nigerian rapper and singer. She released her debut studio album, Franchise Celebrity (2010), while signed to Knighthouse Entertainment. The album was preceded by the 2009 promotional single “If You Want Me”. She parted ways with Knighthouse in February 2012 and established her own label, Cheddah Music.
She is a creative arts graduate from the University of Lagos. Mo’Cheddah started exploring her creative side at age 12. She was initially interested in acting, but later transitioned to singing. She signed a record deal with Knighthouse. She later left and founded her own record label mocheddah music. she began working on her second album which was due to be released in 2016.
Lola Faturoti is a Nigerian-born, New York-based fashion designer with extensive experience and renowned international repute. Faturoti, who hails from Ondo State, went on to school in London before moving to New York in the early 1990s. Her fashion journey began from childhood when she helped her grandmother, who was also a fashion designer. “I got interested in fashion because my grandmother was a designer. She designed Nigerian traditional clothes. That was my first introduction to fashion, which I hated because I wanted to be out playing instead of picking out seams!”
Her inspiration is mainly drawn from her roots, and Faturoti rose to fame in New York when she made a dress to celebrate Barack Obama’s election as President of the United States. The dress had these bold Yoruba words, “Oluwa gba President Barack Obama,” which means, “God Bless President Barack Obama.”
Zizi Cardow has been instrumental in successfully showcasing the Nigerian fabric and culture on a global level. She launched her label, Zizi, which has seen her profile expand proudly, letting the world know how unique and elegant the Nigerian fabric is. She is credited with promoting the Ankara fabric, which has earned it global fame as the fabric is now being worn to red carpet events around the world.
When she was young, Cardow hoped to become a forensic profiler, but after landing her first fashion job at only 17 in an Italian-owned boutique ignited her interest in fashion. Being a popular African fashion ambassador, her success has seen her designs featured in many international catwalk events in Cape Town, Milan, Paris, the USA, and other destinations worldwide.
Her global revolution for the African fabric to be appreciated internationally has earned numerous awards, with the list being long and continuing to grow. In 2001, after only one year in the fashion industry, she bagged the Prestigious Designer of the Year Award at the Nigerian Fashion Show. With this award to her name, the world noticed her work, and her work was showcased on a global platform.
LANRE DA SILVA
Lanre da Silva (born 1978) is a Lagos-based fashion designer considered to be one of Nigeria’s leading couturiers. Launched in 2005, her eponymous label includes couture, ready-to-wear, jewelry and hairpieces. Da Silva’s collections often incorporate metallic fabrics, lace and African patterns, while referencing the 1940s or 1800s. The Africa Fashion Guide recognizes her as having “… created a name for herself in high fashion in Nigeria.
Upon high school graduation in Nigeria, da Silva moved to the United Kingdom to continue her studies. For her undergraduate degree, she majored in business administration at Coventry University. She obtained a master’s degree in Finance from the University of Leicester. Da Silva is married with children and has two siblings. Their father is Sir Leo Babarinde Da Silva, a former Secretary to the Lagos State Government.
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 her continent’s luxury industry.[ That same year her label was featured in the magazine L’Uomo Vogue in an issue called «Re-branding Africa».