Friday, June 18

In an Unprecedented Year, the Nigerian Fashion Community Is Holding Strong

On the 10th anniversary of Lagos Fashion Week, the images pay testament to the richness and eclecticism of Nigeria’s fashion landscape. “Lagos is a very magical place,” says Ogunbanwo of the images, which were shot before the renewal of energy behind the #EndSARS movement in October. “Besides being the business capital of the country, what one first experiences when [arriving] here is the assault on the senses. It’s loud, it’s busy, it’s colorful, it’s fun, it’s rich, and the hustle is almost palpable.” For Ogunbanwo too, the current political unrest has felt very much personal. “The fashion and art scene were very vocal and active during the protests, in large part because many young creatives have been victims to the terror of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad,” Ogunbanwo continues. “They usually harass young people who are differently dressed or have dreads or tattoos. I’ve had models and some young designers tell me horror stories of being stopped and harassed after late-night shoots or shows. We have to recognize that fashion, culture, politics, and human rights are in fact intertwined.”

Despite the tragedies of the past year, Akerele is keen to express the strong feelings of hope for the next decade of Nigerian fashion and the role its community can play within the activism that has brought police brutality in her home country into the global conversation. “We’ve seen what it’s like when people unite properly with singularity of purpose,” Akerele adds. “Nigerian youths, led by a feminist coalition and other leaders who were at the forefront of the protests, showed us what could be when everyone is united irrespective of tribe, religion, and the usual walls that separate us. We can’t unlearn that, you know, but we can forge ahead together with hope, courage, and renewed conviction that our nation, Nigeria, can become a country conducive for all to thrive.”

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