Introducing the most stylish men in Lagos
Get the know the dapper denizens of Nigeria's cultural capital, "the most populous Black city in the world," in our street-style round-up from GT Bank Fashion Weekend.
Photography Stephen Tayo
Mowalola, Kenneth Ize, Orange Culture: these may all be familiar names, but how much more do you know about the fashion culture of Lagos, Nigeria’s foremost cultural hub? A hot, bustling urban sprawl counting upwards of 22 million inhabitants, it’s a city that brims with both creative dynamism and tradition. Paired with the sturdy confidence of its residents, the result is a city where dressing is valued as highly as any major fashion capital, if not more so.
There are few places this manifests more clearly than at GT Bank Fashion Weekend. Held annually since 2016, GT Bank Weekend offers Lagos’s fashion-proud crowd the opportunity to attend talks by global industry leaders -- like i-D Contributing Editor Adesuwa at this year’s edition -- as well as to take in catwalk shows from pioneering African designers like Imane Ayissi and Tzar Studios.
The arguable highlight of the event, however, takes place in the venue’s vast courtyard. By far the most accessible of Lagos’s three main fashion events (the others being Arise Fashion Week and Lagos Fashion Week), with members of the public allowed to partake, the weekend offers Lagosian youth a large-scale hub for meeting, exchanging with and drawing inspiration from other like-minded fashion creatives. Along with photographer Stephen Tayo, i-D caught up with some of the city’s most stylish men to learn more about how they view Lagos fashion today, and where they think it could go tomorrow.
What brought you here? My friend Adesuwa was giving a talk, so I came to see her. What excites you in fashion right now? I'm excited about a few designers, especially Nigerian ones -- I'm a bit biased! People like Kenneth Ize here in Lagos and Mowalola in London, who are both good friends of mine, are doing iconic stuff right now. They're big inspirations. Are they key inspirations for the way you dress? I would say I really like to reference lots of local materials, like Adire cloth, which is what I'm wearing now. Anything traditional is what I'm into right now. How would you sum up Lagos fashion in a few words? It's… a beautiful chaos! You know? It's so much and so little at the same time. The different colours, the palettes, the materials, traditional, international, fake, real -- it's everything at once. Where do you see Lagos fashion in ten years time? In ten years time? I pray that there'll be more infrastructure in place for designers’ growth, so we can have more Kenneth Izes, more Mowalolas. And obviously people like Adesuwa, who are inspiring the new generation of models coming through now. Lagos is the most populous Black city in the world -- there are only more great things to come from here.
What brought you here? I've always loved attending fashion shows and fashion week, so I decided to come down. What sets it apart from other fashion events in Lagos? I've been here twice now, and I've noticed how great GT Bank Fashion Weekend is for street style. It's always great to see how other people are dressing and get fresh inspirations. What inspires the way you dress? The Style Infidel has always inspired me a lot, he's like a mentor to me. Everything he does is just amazing. How would you sum up Lagos fashion in a few words? Lagos is fashion is crazy, and so unique. Everything you see is… I'm short of words, you really can't define it!
Ekow Barnes, 24
What inspires the way you dress? For this outfit, it was simply the fact that I didn’t know what to wear. My best friend's a designer based in Ghana, CHIIP •O• NEAL, he just brought his collection to me and asked me to try it on. The shirt and the apron are from him, the pants are my dad's. What excites you about fashion in Lagos right now? The energy! It's so vibrant, very colourful. Nigerian culture is a bit different to what you'll see in other African countries. They really style themselves like it's their last day on earth! What's the most interesting thing happening in Lagos fashion? There was one guy I saw here in a headwrap, and I thought he looked incredible! Where do you see Lagos fashion in ten years time? You can see starting now, editors be coming to Lagos Fashion Week. Right after Milan and Paris -- the next destination will be Lagos.
Charles, 19, Oreoluwa, 19, Mike, 19
What brought you here? Mike: It’s an opportunity for people from both Lagos Mainland and Island to meet. We can meet and get to know each other, and get to know what’s currently happening in fashion What sets it apart from other fashion events in Lagos? Oreoluwa: Here, you have people dressed traditionally along with more experimental dressers. Everyone comes down to show their own sense of style. What excites you about fashion here right now? Charles: I don't really think about fashion much. But I saw a lot of people with different styles and being really creative, which I find pretty inspiring. Oreoluwa: But there are some names like Motherlan, Vivendii, Wafflesncream that are great! Mike: I love 90s and retro-inspired looks. But fashion changes so quickly, so I came here to check out what’s new. How would you sum up Lagos fashion in a few words? All: Colours! Oreoluwa: Colours, man, colours everywhere. Where do you see Lagos fashion in ten years time? Oreoluwa: I think people will be coming from countries around the world to see what’s happening here. African prints and designs can go a really long way.
Amoo Ridwan , 20, Olaitan Oluwatemitope Joseph, 20
What's brought you here? Amoo: I'm an up-and-coming designer, so I'm here to get some ideas. I'm also a model, so I'm also here to check out new designers and just get a feel for what's happening this season. What sets it apart from other fashion events in Lagos? Olaitan: GT's the biggest! It's the most unique by far. Amoo: Yeah, I won't lie, GT's the best, and I'm not just saying that because I'm here. I was at Lagos Fashion Week, and there were some things I couldn't reach but at GT, you can really access everything. What excites you about Lagos fashion right now?
Amoo: Well, all our designers are the best out there right now. Olaitan: Orange Culture, they're the best! They're really serving us, creating a Nigerian look. I love what they're doing. How would you sum up Lagos fashion in a few words? Amoo: It's getting crazier and more creative every day! Normally, people wouldn't wear what I'm wearing anywhere, but I do -- I really don't care what people have to say about it. Olaitan: It's really the only city for fashion in Nigeria. When you think of fashion, Lagos is the first to come to mind. Where do you see Lagos fashion in ten years time? Amoo: Massive! We'll be comparing it with Paris in ten years, I'm pretty sure of that.
Wole Babalola, 23, Chuka, 20
What's brings you down to GT Bank Fashion Weekend today? Chuka: I'm a model, but I'm not walking today. I wanted to just show up to support. Wole: I'm a model and a photographer. I'm pretty tired of just walking the show, so I also wanted to experience things from the other side of the camera! What inspires the way you dress? Wole: Today, I'm just wearing my friend's brand, Home Delivery. It's a skate and streetwear brand based here in Lagos, and my style is mostly inspired by that sort of clothing, and anything else that happens to catch my eye! Chuka: This is a Louis scarf, a regular suit, Vetements, and then regular pants. I just thought it would look good together, I just threw it on! What excites you about Lagos fashion right now? Wole: The youth in Nigeria are getting more and more creative, they’re really trying to push themselves out there. There are so many brands here that no one knows about, but if you scratch the surface of the culture and see what's going on, you'll be really surprised to see that there are loads of teenagers actively doing their thing. It's actually a really big scene… I don't really know how to articulate it. How would you sum up Lagos fashion in a few words? Wole: Oof… Chuka: Exciting, fresh, innovative and stylish. Where do you see Lagos fashion in ten years time? Wole: I feel like in the next ten years, it'll be something bigger than anything you could imagine. Africa’s gonna be back on the map and out there again, you hear me.
Gabriel Anthony, 25
What's brought you here? This is actually the time of year I'm most excited for, because I actually live in Abia State, in the East of the country. So I come all the way to Lagos for Lagos Fashion Week, which was two weeks ago, and GT Bank Fashion Weekend. It's a place where I meet people of like mind, other fashion people to connect with. What inspires the way you dress? I'm a fashion designer, the creative director of Vintage Nigeria, so I'm mainly inspired by what I'm working on at the time. This weekend, my outfit was inspired by my current mood. I wanted to go incognito -- even for tomorrow's outfit, I'm not going to be showing my face. It's great! People just look and think ‘What is that?!' You don't know his face, you don't know who it is, but you're just looking at it thinking it looks cool. What excites you about Lagos fashion right now at the moment? I think that recently, people have really started to embrace what they really feel about fashion. People are going way out of the box and taking risks -- and it's amazing. They go about their normal lives and express themselves through what they wear. How would you sum up Lagos fashion in a few words? It's very hot here -- the fashion and the weather! Where do you see Lagos fashion in ten years time? I see it competing on the global stage. People are working so hard here and doing everything they can, but there's still room for improvement.
Photography Stephen Tayo