Tosin Ogundadegbe (30) ‘Style Infidel’
There are many ways to rise to the top of Nigerian fashion. The vast majority do it by leveraging their privilege, wealth and access to create the illusion of growth and advancement and reach the top only to become stunted. Others like the man from Ibadan Mr. Tosin Ogundadegbe work their way from the ground up, carefully creating unforgettable fashion through research, trial and error and an indefatigable spirit. Ogundadegbe has built his personal brand The Style Infidel literally out of nothing, growing through the recommendations of satisfied clients who are impressed by his punctuality, his creativity and his willingness to learn from his customers.
The Style Infidel Studios is Ogundadegbe’s work and has allowed him work with some of the biggest fashion brands in the country. He was appointed Head stylist at the Guaranty Trust Bank Fashion Weekend, curating the looks the designers who show at the event wear and helping shape the general aesthetic of the events. He also curated looks for the Catwalk at the Ikeja City Mall. He is also an in-demand stylist, working with long-term collaborators Moofa and Amaariol, while also lending his skills and vision as a creative director to emerging labels like Femy Toys, Rhobes Official and Bearded Genius.
Ogundadegbe is committed to proving there is more than one way to make a name for one’s self in fashion while paying eternal homage to Celine.
‘Emmy Kasbit’ Emmanuel Okoro (28)
Emmanuel Okoro might have started his semi-eponymous label all the way back in 2013 but his first contact with fashion started long before then. Coming from a family of apparel designers, Okoro sought to distinguish himself and explore his ideas about fashion by creating a premium unisex label that tested the limits of acceptable fashion. After dabbling in unisex fashion, Kasbit finally found an audience in South Africa when he was invited to showcase at the SA Menswear Week in 2016. Riding on the critical reception from the South African fashion industry, Okoro returned to Nigeria determined to replicate his success at home.
He revamped his entire label, ditching contemporary fabrics for Akwete, a traditional woven cloth from the Igbo people and applied for the Lagos Fashion Week Fashion Focus Fund, a non-profit initiative in partnership with the British Council and startup Fets Wallet that offers mentorship and funding for emerging designers. Kasbit won the Fund in early 2018, making a name for himself as one of the continent’s brightest stars and the first to dress foreign prime minister Theresa May.
Okoro is a champion of sustainable fashion and an advocate for embracing our traditional fabrics and preserving culture through contemporary application.
Papa “Maxivive” Oyeyemi (26)
There is no designer working in Nigeria today quite like Babatunde Papa Oyeyemi. A gifted designer in his own right, Oyeyemi started his fashion label Maxivive when he was 15 and still in secondary school, inspired by his desire to provide safe spaces for young Nigerians who do not confirm in terms of gender, sexuality and identity. Over the course of ten years, his brand has expanded to include offshoots Bodun and MXVV and has contracted to restate the core values that has kept Papa designing long after his contemporaries have given up.
Oyeyemi was chosen as a finalist for the Lagos Fashion Week Fashion Focus Fund, showcasing a collection that got him invited to show at the exclusive South Africa Menswear Fashion Week for four years running. This year, Oyeyemi partnered with non-profit Get Naked to release a collection that advocated for mental health awareness. He was also chosen to participate in the Vlisco Quarterly lookbooks, bringing his unique POV to the Vlisco Q3 lookbook and challenging what we consider traditional for a prestige brand of this nature.
When Oyeyemi is not designing, he devotes his time to WeBoyc, a non-profit that seeks to highlight the fantastic work creatives in the country are doing in various fields.
Ozinna Anumudu (26)
It has taken Ozinna Anumundu quite some time to shed the expectations that come with her family name and the decadent fashion that her mother Mrs. Nkiru Anumundu has come to personify. But for Ozinna the challenge was worth it, as was the rewards – a chance to create her own personal boutique fashion and branding business. Zina started her career in fashion with fashion magazine StyleVitae, parlaying her understanding of social media and image branding into a viable career push away from the brand. She left the media house on amicable terms to start the Style Concierge, a fashion and lifestyle business that handled branding, marketing, sales and logistics for fashion brands.
Today Ozinna has come to roost at Ozinna.com, an all in one digital conglomerate that promotes her work as a personal style influencer, disrupts the online fashion retail business by offering remote, personal style shopper style recommendations on clothes and accessories. Zinna is specific about using her platforms to promote the work of other women and only hires women to run her businesses and aid her in her endeavours. She continues to expand the possibilities for women in the industry, no matter their last name.
Amy Akudo ‘Shekudo’ Iheakanwa (29)
The newest entrant into fashion on this year’s nominee list, Amy Akudo Iheakanwa is no pushover when it comes to fashion. Her background was in women’s health and community development before she ventured into working with artisans in fashion. Starting her career as a student in Australia borne by the abject lack of options for fashionable afrocentric fashion accessories targeted at women of colour, Iheakanwa began Shekudo, contracting her name with a female identifier. This simple decision has come to define her brand which takes her personal design quirks and replicates it on a grander scale for other women to embrace and enjoy.
The Shekudo brand is primarily concerned with quality and sustainability and to prove this end, Iheakanwa moved back to Nigeria to engage local artisans in the process of creating her designs. The label is keen on promoting the Nigerian woven fabric Aso-oke as a viable alternative to more mainstream prints and fabrics and crafting durable but timeless shoes and bags, modernized for the kind of woman who looks to the future while drawing inspiration from the past.
Since Iheakanwa returned to Nigeria she has grown her staff from 4 to an impressive 14 artisans, comprising of 3 shoemakers, 1 bag maker, 3 silversmiths/goldsmiths, 1 embroiderer, 1 heel maker, 1 shoe mould (last) maker, 2 weavers and 2 dressmakers. She has also partnered with multidisciplinary space 16/16 to showcase an exhibition of her design process and the inspiration behind her work.