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Top 15 most innovative fashion companies in Nigeria taking Africa to the world

As the chants of ‘Nigeria to the world’ continue to get louder, the statement becomes truer with every person or company that decides to share their talent with the rest of the world. 

This includes singers, actors, fashion designers, and so many other creatives of Nigerian origins. In a similar vein, fashion companies in Nigeria are also doing wonderfully.

Nigerian fashion is overwhelmingly inspired by her culture and her people. The flamboyance and vibrance of her people are well represented in the fashion that comes out of the country.

This uniqueness has made Nigerian fashion a powerhouse, not only on the continent but internationally. Several fashion companies in Nigeria have made people proud throughout the years.

In this list, we will look at the top 15 Nigerian fashion houses making Nigerians proud, breaking boundaries and doing fabulously with the resources available to them.

All of these businesses were included in Beyonce’s list of African fashion designers. 

1. Andrea Iyamah

Top 15 most innovative fashion companies in Nigeria taking Africa to the world

Andrea Iyamah is a Lagos based fashion house owned by Andrea Iyamah. According to the official website, this clothing line is inspired by “colour, ethnic cultures, nature and design elements that stay true to creating authentic clothing and resort wear with hints of a retro yet contemporary edge in design.”

Andrea Iyamah launched her brand aged 17 after a few years of learning to tailor and advancing her flair for fashion and arts.

The Andrea Iyamah brand is recognised for its eccentric take on swimwear as well as its ready to wear outfits and custom made special dresses under the alternate brand, Andrea Iyamah Bride.

It is recognised internationally, and Hollywood stars including Gabrielle Union, Ciara, Kate Hudson, Issa Rae, and many more have been seen in Andrea Iyamah pieces.

Andrea Iyamah operates from Lagos, Toronto and New York.

2. Atafo Official

Atafo Official, formerly known as Mai Atafo, is headed by the incredibly popular and widely acclaimed Mai Atafo. His story is a popular one: Mai Atafo left his high paying job to pursue his love for fashion.

The name change from Mai Atafo to Atafo official was made only recently at the 2019 Lagos Fashion Week.

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NOTHING SAYS FRIDAY LIKE AN ATAFO CUBAN COLLAR SHACKET MAI ATAFO @maiatafo – ATAFO SHACKET SERIES Photographed by @theginstarp Styled and Art direction @thestyleinfidel ATAFO SHACKET: A shirt tailored with the craftsmanship of an unlined, unstructured jacket from the finest super wool fabric – an ideal garment to be worn alone or layered, formal or casual, styled as traditional African or trendy European, whichever way you decide to wear yours, you are guaranteed the luxurious ATAFO elegance. To order send us a DM, call or email at info@atafo.africa #ATAFO #ATAFOMAN #ATAFOSHACKET #ATAFOTRAD #ATAFOSHACKETSERIES  #SHACKET #SHACKETSERIES #SAVILEROW #TRAD #TRADITIONAL #KAFTAN #KAFTANKING #ATAFOAFRICA #AFRICANMAN #GLOBALAFRICANMAN #luxury #menswear #bespoke #madetomeasure #mensuitsteam #mensfashion #tailored #bestofmenstyle #tradizione #suitstyle #bloggerfashion #designersuits  #traditionalartist #nigerians  #fashiondesigner

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The Atafo brand is now one of Africa’s foremost fashion labels and creates menswear, womenswear, and bridal looks.

That is not all though. The Atafo brand also creates bespoke tailored garments, unique, elegant wedding gowns and super fashionable ready-to-wear pieces.

Atafo Official has also unveiled collections at a host of fashion events around the world including the J Spring Fashion Show Paris, Glitz African Fashion Week Accra, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa, Arise Fashion Week and Lagos Fashion Week, which were both held in Lagos.

Mai Atafo has won numerous designs both for their founder and for the brand. These include awards from City people Fashion and Style, Covenant University, Glitz African Fashion Week Ghana, Lagos Fashion and Design Week, La Mode Magazine Ever Green Event Awards, Fashion’s Finest Africa Awards Lagos, and many others.

3. Deola Sagoe

Top 15 most innovative fashion companies in Nigeria taking Africa to the world

Deola Sagoe is a notable fashion design house, which was founded by the brilliant Deola Ade-Ojo. At Deola Sagoe, the designs are completely unique, which have led to global recognition, including recognition from stars like Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith.

In addition to that, Deola Sagoe is known for using a diverse range of exclusive fabrics that always calls attention to the wearer.

Deola Ade-Ojo began designing in 1988 when she joined her mother’s fashion design company to expand the business’ repertoire.

She is both the first black woman to present a fashion collection at AltaRoma, Rome’s celebrated fashion week, in 2004 as well as the first Nigerian to have her own stand-alone show at the New York Fashion Week September 2014.

Deola Ade-Ojo’s daughters, Teni, Aba, and Tiwa Sagoe are co-owners of the popular fashion outfit, CLAN RTW.

4. Emmy Kasbit Nigeria

Emmy Kasbit is a Lagos based fashion brand that specialises in making gorgeous outfits with unconventional outfits from Africa. The founder of the brand, Emmanuel Okoro, started the fashion outfit in 2013.

He has also attained considerable international exposure. In fact, when British Prime Minister, Theresa May visited Nigeria in 2018, she wore a gorgeous Akwete jacket by Emmy Kasbit Nigeria.

The yellow and green jacket was from the brand’s Spring 2018 collection. The prime minister also shared her admiration for the outfit on social media as well.

He emerged as one of the top five finalists at the Lagos Fashion & Design Week Fashion Focus 2017. He has also been showcasing his collections at the LFWD.

5. Ejiro Amos Tafiri

Ejiro Amos Tafiri is a Nigerian fashion designer and the founder of the Nigerian fashion house, Ejiro Amos Tafiri. She took inspiration from her grandmother who was a tailor and at the age of three, expressed her love for fashion.

While she was expected to study medicine by her parents, she opted to study clothing and fashion design at Yaba College of Technology instead.

Ejiro started her brand in 2010, and since then, she has showcased her clothes at several fashion events both in Nigeria and outside.

Some of these events include Native & Vogue Port Harcourt Fashion Week, Dakar Fashion Week, Kenya Fashion Week, and so many more. The brand is also on Beyonce’s list of African fashion-centred businesses.

6. Maki Oh

Maki Oh is one of the most widely awarded fashion companies in Nigeria that is run from Lagos State by the brilliant Amaka Osakwe.

Top 15 most innovative fashion companies in Nigeria taking Africa to the world

Osakwe launched her fashion brand in 2010 and since then, her brilliant designs have caught the eyes of fashion lovers all over the world.

Her designs have been worn by Eku Edewor, Michelle Obama, Lupita N’yongo, Solange Knowles, Leelee Sobieski, Alek Wek, Thandie Newton, Azaelia Banks and more.

Maki Oh has shown it’s collections during NYFW and has been featured in Vogue Magazine, WWD, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business of Fashion, W Magazine, New York Magazine, The Financial Times, Forbes, Elle Magazine, Interview Magazine, The Fader, Glamour, Paper Magazine, Nylon, and many others.

In addition to all of this, Osakwe has also been named ‘Designer of the Year’ by African fashion magazine ARISE.

Her work is currently on display at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Vitra Design Museum, and the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and has been since 2010.

In 2014, Maki Oh was invited to the White House as one of Michelle Obama’s favourite designers, alongside Diane Von Furstenberg, Jason Wu, Public School and more.

7. Lisa Folawiyo

Lisa Folawiyo is a globally recognised fashion designer who brilliantly uses West African fabrics to create stunning designs with a focus on beadings and sequins.

Folawiyo studied Law at the University of Lagos before starting her fashion label, ‘Jewel by Lisa’ in 2005. She has discussed how she started the brand with only 20,000 Naira back then.

Lisa Folawiyo’s designs have been worn by public figures all over the world including Issa Rae. Her designs have been displayed in the US, the UK, Nigeria and South Africa.

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We dream in colour too.. Hello Saturday!!!????

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What’s more, she was featured in Vogue Italia in 2012. She has also won several prizes including the 2012 Africa Fashion Award, 2014’s One of eight emerging talents by WWD Women’s Wear Daily, and in 2015, she was featured in the Bank Of Fashion 500.

8. Lanre Da Silva Ajayi

Her career began an upward climb in 2011 when she presented a collection at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). Her clothes have been described as groundbreaking in their use of traditional African prints.  Da Silva has also presented collections at the 2008 Thisday Africa Rising Festival in London, the 2009 Arise Africa Fashion Festival in South Africa, the 2009 New York Couture Fashion Week and the 2011 Arise Magazine Fashion Week in Lagos.

Lanre Da Silva Ajayi is a widely recognised Lagos-based fashion designer whose fashion label includes couture, ready-to-wear, jewellery and hairpieces.

Her career began an upward climb in 2011 when she presented a collection at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). Her clothes have been described as groundbreaking in their use of traditional African prints.

Da Silva has also presented collections at the 2008 Thisday Africa Rising Festival in London, the 2009 Arise Africa Fashion Festival in South Africa, the 2009 New York Couture Fashion Week and the 2011 Arise Magazine Fashion Week in Lagos.

In 2018, she displayed her collection at the Arise Africa Fashion Festival with the supermodel Naomi Campbell opening the show wearing one of Da Silva’s outfits.

9. Kenneth Ize

Top 15 most innovative fashion companies in Nigeria taking Africa to the world

Kenneth Ize is a Lagos-based designer who is doing amazing things with his fashion brand called Kenneth Ize, founded in 2013.

Kenneth Ize emerged as a Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE (LVMH) prize finalist in 2019 and since then, he has achieved a lot with his brand. Ize grew up in Austria before he went to study fashion and design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.

After he graduated in 2013, he launched his brand at Lagos Fashion Week. Ize ended up taking a two-year break while doing a MA at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

He then relaunched his image for Spring/Summer 2016. Since then, he has done incredibly well for himself. His brand has been covered in BOF, Vogue, Teen Vogue, and many others.

In 2019, he was a joint winner of the Arise Fashion Week Award for ‘Designer of the Year.’

10. KAI collective

Top 15 most innovative fashion companies in Nigeria taking Africa to the world

According to its website, “KAI seeks to create clothing for multi-dimensional women who embrace their femininity in all its various forms.”

KAI Collective was started by Fisayo Longe five years after she launched her online blog. She spent those years building an online presence before she decided that it was time for KAI to come into the limelight.

The brand’s popular Gaia dress has been crowned the dress of the summer for 2020 and has even made it to the cover of ELLE’s September 2020 issue.

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@thezeinabou in Gaia, by @davidhindsphotography.

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The dress has been worn by several high profile celebrities from Temi Otedola and Ebonee Davis to Youtubers like Jackie Aina, Patricia Bright, and The Oddity.

11. Orange Culture

Orange Culture is an international brand that was founded by Adebayo Oke-Lawal, who has been designing since he was 10 years old.

After working with several designers, Oke-Lawal decided to turn his dream for fashion into reality and in 2011, he decided to launch his fashion brand, Orange Culture.

The label debuted its first collection at the 2011 Lagos and Fashion Design Week and since then, its founder has been working hard to ensure that the brand is recognised all over the world.

His efforts are definitely paying off as Orange Culture has received coverage in many international brands including Vogue ( US, UK, ITALY), WWD, BoF, L’Uomo Vogue, Huffington Post, New York Times, CNN, BET, MTV, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Marie Claire, L’Officiel, Style.com, The Guardian and The New York Times.

The brand has collaborated with several Nigerian celebrities including Davido, Temi Otedola, and Denola Grey.

In 2014, Orange Culture was selected for the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.

12. Style Temple

The founder of Style Temple, OG Okonkwo studied Laboratory Science at a University in Nigeria, but that was not where her passion lay and she decided to backtrack to follow her passion.

OG founded Style Temple in 2012, and since then, it has grown to become one of the most influential fashion companies in Nigeria.

“Style Temple designs clothing that balances between femininity and strength, and between structure and softness,” says Og, whose ambitions for Style Temple are expanding each year.

Apart from its asymmetric dresses, Style Temple specialises in bridal wears, statement tuxedos and trousers. Her outfits have been worn by several Nigerian fashion designers including Toke Makinwa and Stephanie Coker.

13. Tiffany Amber

Top 15 most innovative fashion companies in Nigeria taking Africa to the world

Tiffany Amber is a Lagos-based Nigerian brand that was founded by Folake Folarin-Coker. She studied in Switzerland and the United Kingdom, after which she earned a postgraduate degree in petroleum law.

After earning her degrees, she decided to return to Nigeria to pursue her interest in fashion. She officially launched her brand, Tiffany Amber, in 1998.

For her contributions to fashion, she has earned several accolades all over the world. In fact, she has more than four standalone stores in the country alone.

She has put on several fashion shows in Africa, Europe and the United States. She made history in 2008 when she became the first African-based fashion designer to stage a show twice at the New York Fashion Week.

She was the first person to receive the award for the  ‘Designer of the Year’ at the African fashion week in Johannesburg in 2009. Folarin-Coker and her Tiffany Amber were 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.

14. Studio Imo

Top 15 most innovative fashion companies in Nigeria taking Africa to the world

Studio Imo is a fashion label established in 2013 by the design duo, Edwin Okolo and Imobong Emah. Since then, it has grown to become one of the most influential fashion companies in Nigeria.

According to their website, the two designers, who were both studying in Ghana and Nigeria at the time, were drawn together by “mutual admiration for the golden era of Dolce and Gabbana, the pedigree of Valentino and the self-referential kitsch of Sonial Rykiel and Missoni”.

The label focuses on knitwear and has so far been featured in GQ SA and Vogue Italia.

15. Ray Darten

Top 15 most innovative fashion companies in Nigeria taking Africa to the world

Ray Darten is a Nigerian brand that was founded by Nigerian medical doctor turned fashion designer, Yetunde Olukoya.

The brand name, Ray Darten was derived from the combination of her children’s names: Ire, pronounced eRAY, DARa & TENi.

 

Ray Darten is dedicated to creating African inspired fashion & handmade clothing and accessories.

Conclusion

This is far from being a comprehensive list of the most innovative fashion companies in Nigeria. Some others which are not on this list include Deola Sagoe, Frank Osodi, and so many others.

Most people love to look unique and attractive. The vibrancy of the outfits made by these talented designers proves just how talented Nigerians are.

Their extraordinary talents of these fashion companies in Nigeria have proved to be amazing enough to extend outside the country, Africa, and to many more continents where their talents are even more recognised with awards and international recognition.

Which of these fashion designers is your favourite and which did you already know? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section and share this article with family and friends.

Simbiat
Simbiat Haroun studied Computer Science at the University of Lagos. She enjoys doing research and spends most of her time reading. She can be contacted at simbiat@sidomexuniversal.com.

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