Adebayo Oke-Lawal on Design Indaba 2019
Adebayo Oke-Lawal is the creative director of androgynous fashion label Orange Culture. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in business and international management from Newcastle Business School. Oke-Lawal built his portfolio while he was a member of the creative collective of stylists called BUBAAI, but left the group in 2011 to establish Orange Culture.
He has achieved enormous success since then and has been featured in several publications, including Vogue, Elle, Voice of America, Financial Times, and Wings. He also emerged as a finalist on hugely successful design platforms such as the Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy Prize and MTN Lagos Fashion and Design Week. In 2015, Orange Culture was selected as one of the first menswear brands to be shown on the runway in Florence, Italy, during the fashion week. In this interview with Omenka, he discusses his latest collection, African fashion, and the forthcoming Design Indaba Conference.
What do you think can be done to create awareness for African and androgynous fashion?
I think what really needs to be done is to create platforms and avenues where we can discuss and display African and androgynous fashion internationally. We started this in 2010. Fast forward to 2019, many brands have followed suit, creating numerous conversations about the possibilities and social impact of intelligent, androgynous African fashion.
What challenges are being faced by Nigerian and African fashion designers? How can we achieve the same vigour as such fashion capitals as Paris, London, and New York?
Foundationally, we lack the necessary infrastructure to support the growth of the industry in Nigeria. And I think that really sets us back in the way we are perceived worldwide. What’s really special about current fashion participants is the desire to not just be successful but to build a sustainable industry by establishing platforms. Design Indaba is an example of this on a global scale. Style House Files and fetswallet (with Lagos Fashion Week) are also bodies that are supporting the industry’s development.
Your androgynous garments feature duality and interchangeability that break the mould of traditional gender categories in fashion. Kindly take us through your creative process, especially for your forthcoming AW’19 collection.
I’m an emotional creator. So I build based on how I feel. When something warms my heart or bothers me severely as a person, I build around it. This collection is called “Don’t Look under My Skirt,” and it really is about society’s constant need to invade and question choices around self-representation.
You have achieved international recognition for your work. To what would you attribute your success? What should local designers do to imitate you?
God! Upcoming designers must be serious and genuinely creative. I’m not perfect, but as a designer, I keep pushing myself, and it has definitely helped.
To what can you attribute the increasing global interest in design from Africa? How does Design Indaba fit into the burgeoning global art and design scene?
I hope it is not just a fad and that it translates into sustained economic and industrial growth. Design Indaba’s platform is genius because it is creating an amazing international voice for the creative scene. It’s about telling our stories through fashion, art, and design, and telling it right. This is so important.
July 15, 2019