Fashion in Nigeria has taken a bigger leap – thanks to the many fashion designers who are not just making a name for themselves but also for Nigeria and Africa at large. These fashion designers have been accoladed for their role in promoting Nigeria’s reputation and culture through fashion. If we want to start mentioning the names of every fashion designer in Nigeria, we’d go on and on till ‘thy kingdom comes’, so instead, we’ll focus on the top fashion designers in Nigeria. These are they who have made their mark on the path of fashion; they whose hallmark are worth emulating; they whose persistence and consistency granted them lofty heights in their career.
As earlier said, there are many top fashion designers in Nigeria but this post covers ten of them and they are:
1. Mai Atafo
Ohimai Atafo is a renowned fashion designer and founder of his eponymous fashion brand, Mai Atafo. Over the years, the brand has risen to international acclaim, so much for the efforts of its founder. Atafo has a Master’s degree in Information Systems and Technology from the United Kingdom. He arrived the fashion scene in 2010 after working in the corporate sector for some years. Ever since, he has dressed people of high calibers including A-list celebrities and has won many awards of which some are LFW Menswear Designer of the year, Allure’s Most Stylish Man of the Year, City People Fashion and Style’s Hottest New Male Designer (two years in a row), Mode Men Magazine’s Fashion Designer of the Year, etc.
To read more about Mai Atafo, click here: Meet Our Celebrity Stylist: Mai Atafo
2. Lanre Da Silva
Lanre Da Silva Ajayi is one of Nigeria’s leading couturiers. She launched her eponymous brand which comprises jewelry, hairpieces, couture and ready-to-wear in the year 2005 and ever since, she has created a name for herself in high fashion in Nigeria. She is known for her use of African patterns, lace and metallic fabrics which are retrospective of the mid-20th century.
Da Silva has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Coventry University in the UK and a Master’s degree in finance from the University of Leicester. Her clothing line has been showcased in fashion shows such as Vogue Talents Fashion Show in Milan, New York Fashion Week, the 2008 Thisday Africa Rising Festival in London, Lagos Fashion Week, the 2009 Arise Africa Fashion Festival in South Africa, the 2009 New York Couture Fashion Week, the 2011 Arise Magazine Fashion Week in Lagos, etc. Her clothes have also been sold at Dolce & Gabbana‘s “Concept Spiga 2” store in Milan.
This iconic designer has been featured on top magazines like Vogue Italia, Vogue Black, Nigerian publication Complete Fashion Magazine, L’Uomo Vogue, etc. Da Silva’s designs are peculiar for their use of traditional African prints and motifs. She is indeed an inspiration to many.
3. Yomi Makun
Olorunyomi Omoniyi Makun is the brain behind Yomi Casual, one of the top fashion houses in Nigeria that specializes in cut-to-fit African designs. This young designer who happens to be the younger brother of celebrity comedian Ayo Makun (fondly called AY) has grown to be a pacesetter in the business of fashion ever since he launched his brand in 2007. He has dressed high-profile clients including celebrities, business tycoons, as well as, politicians in and outside Nigeria.
Yomi Casual’s designs have been showcased in fashion shows, one of which is the Native Vogue International Fashion which took place in Port Harcourt. The brand has been decorated with several awards such as City People Hottest Designer Of The Year 2011, Nigerian Youth Merit Awards Fashion Designer Of The Year 2011, Exclusive Impact Magazine Fashion Designer Of The Year, Nigeria Models Achievers Award 2014, Peace Ambassador Nominee 2014, Effizzy Awards Newest Designer Of The Year, etc.
Yomi Casual is the official clothing partner of AY Live Comedy & Music Concerts. The brand’s clothes were also featured in the award-winning movie 30 Days in Atlanta, produced by Ayo Makun.
4. Folake Folarin-Coker
Folake Folarin-Coker is the founder and creative director of Tiffany Amber, a clothing line which has been in existence since 1998. Folake had most of her education in England, Scotland and Switzerland. After earning a postgraduate degree in Petroleum Law, she returned to Nigeria to pursue a career in fashion. Her brand, Tiffany Amber, has four stand-alone stores in Lagos and Abuja. The line has graced many fashion shows in Africa, the United States and Europe.
Folake is the first African fashion designer to showcase her creations twice at the New York Fashion Week. This great fashion designer has been lauded with many awards. She is the first to be awarded the ‘Designer of the Year’ by African Fashion Week held in Johannesburg in 2009. In 2011, her brand was the ‘Fashion Brand of the Year’ at the ARISE Magazine Fashion week. In 2013, she received an ‘Enterprise Award’ at the Women, Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) Symposium. She also made it to the Forbes Power Women list.
Folake is one of the top fashion designers in Nigeria contributing to the drastic change in the Nigerian fashion industry.
5. Ituen Basi
Ituen Basi, one of the top fashion designers in Nigeria, is the creative director of her eclectic and elegant eponymous label, Ituen Basi. She trained at the London College of Fashion after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Ituen has been in the business of fashion since the early 2000s. The brand introduced its Ankara collection in 2008 and it contributed to the Ankara trend in Nigeria.
The Ituen Basi brand is a stylish model of traditional Ankara prints fused with modern silhouettes. The brand is best known for its innovation and creativity. To attest to her creativity, Ituen Basi collaborated with Nigerian artist, Victor Ehikhamenor, for her Spring/Summer 2014 Collection tagged ‘EKEMINI’. The collection was previewed at the inaugural Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience and it tremendously awed the African and global fashion community as a whole. In 2012, Ituen Basi won the Designer of the Year Award at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa. In 2013, she received the Fashion Excellence Award from the Society of Performing Arts in Nigeria
Ituen Basi is one of the eminent fashion designers to emerge in Nigeria.
6. Deola Sagoe
Deola Sagoe is the founder of the haute couture fashion brand, House of Deola Sagoe. She has been in the fashion industry since 1989 and her love for colorful and vibrant designs has earned her global recognition.
In the past, Deola has been an invitee of New York Fashion Week. She also showcases her couture collection regularly at Cape Town Fashion Week. Deola won the MNET/Anglo Gold African Designs 2000 Awards of which she was nominated by the then American Vogue editor, Andrè Leon Talley. The United Nations World Food Program appointed her as the Nigerian representative in an international campaign titled, ‘Catwalk the World: Fashion for Food’. The campaign which began in Nigeria in the year 2006, was aimed at raising money so as to reduce by half, the number of hungry people, most especially children, in the world by 2015.
Deola designed the line, Odua, for her mother who played a key role in pushing her to the limelight. Her three daughters, Teni, Tiwa and Aba Sagoe, happen to tread the same path as their mother. They own a renowned clothing line called CLAN.
Deola Sagoe holds a Master’s degree in Finance and Management. She studied in the University of Lagos and the University of Miami.
7. Nkwo Onwuka
Nkwo Onwuka is the creative director and founder of her eponymous brand, NKWO. Nkwo learnt sewing from her mother. She debuted NKWO in the UK at the Kulture2Couture 2007 where the brand won the coveted Phoenix Award presented by the Mayor of London’s office in partnership with the V&A museum. The line relaunched in 2012 after experimenting and exploring innovative ways of preserving traditional artisanry. NKWO is now based in Nigeria.
Nkwo’s designs are majorly inspired by the pastoral people of the African deserts and the great plateaus. By working together with local artisans across Africa, the label makes use of several methods of handcrafting such as weaving, beading, hand-dyeing and embroidery to create a shift from tradition to modernity by transforming the conventional use of fabrics. During one of her experiments, she came up with the DAKALA CLOTH – a new fabric that looks like handloom woven cloth initially made with leftover pieces of denim fabric.
Nkwo has a degree in psychology. Her nonpareil interpretation of Africa’s history, culture and tradition has made her one of the leading African fashion designers championing the African revival.
8. Frank Oshodi
Frank Osodi, the CEO and founder of House of Bunor Creazioni is an epitome of how Nigerian fashion has embraced the diverse Nigerian cultures. He has been in the fashion industry since 1989, starting his career as a model and an employee in top fashion houses like Nikki Africana and Dakova.
Frank first made a pronounced name for himself when Silverbird TV chose him to be Agbani Darego’s designer and makeup artist in 2001 when she won the Miss World pageant. Ever since, he has won to himself clientele of high calibers. Prior to becoming a model manager, Frank worked on popular television commercials such as Maclean’s and as well, went into choreography.
Also, Frank has played key roles in the success of events aimed at showcasing the potentials of Nigerian fashion; one of these events is the West African Fashion Week. He is more of a bridal and ceremonial couturier. He is more of a bridal and ceremonial couturier.
9. Lisa Folawiyo
Lisa Folawiyo is one of the top fashion designers in Nigeria renowned for her creative blend of West African fabrics and modern sartorial skills. She launched her label, Jewel by Lisa in 2005 and ever since, the brand has become an international label with stores in New York and Nigeria. Lisa studied law in the University of Nigeria. She has a diffusion line, Line J Label which displays Nigerian culture by fusing Afropop with vibrant urban designs. Beside her use of Ankara, Lisa has her own fabric lime that also produces accessories.
She partook in Paris Fashion Week 2010 and New York Fashion Week 2010. She has showcased her collections in South Africa, the UK and the US. In 2012, she won the African Fashion Award and was also featured in Vogue Italia. In 2014, she was named among the emerging talents by Women’s Wear Daily (WWD). In 2015, Lisa was featured by BOF500, a reputable list of international brands, among top fashion brands making global impact. Her celebrity clients include the likes of Beyonce, Kelis,Tasha Smith, and Eve.
10. Duro Olowu
Duro Olowu is a London-based Nigerian fashion designer. He is indubitably known for the way he creatively blends textiles and patterns which draw inspiration from his international background. He is of mixed race as he shares both Nigerian and Jamaican roots. Duro began sketching fashion designs at an early age of six and this birthed his interest in fashion. He studied in the UK and earned a degree in law from the University of Canterbury.
Despite the fact that he is a lawyer by profession, Duro has evidently given fashion his all. In 2004, he launched a womenswear label of which he named after himself. In 2005, he was named London Fashion Week’s New Designer of the Year regardless of the fact that he didn’t have a runway presentation. In 2009, he was African Fashion Week’s Best International Designer. In 2012, he partnered with J.C Penney under the label Duro Olowu for jcp. Through this, people could buy clothing, accessories and home goods with his signature bold print.
Duro has also enjoyed the patronage of high profile clients like Mitchell Obama who engaged him in decorating the White House for 2015 Christmas with flashy trappings and teddy bears made of vintage African fabrics.
Now you know just ten of the many top fashion designers in Nigeria. The aforementioned designers are in no ranking order. They are exceptional in their own way and their efforts in promoting Nigerian fashion will forever remain indelible in the annals of history.