This Boundary-Pushing Menswear Label Is Shaking Up Gender Norms in Nigeria –

A number of hours earlier than presenting at Lagos Style and Design Week final month, Papa Oyeyemi was stopped by a road model photographer. Dressed in a purple slogan T-shirt with a fanny pack strapped to his again, the designer might have simply been mistaken for one of many carefree hipster children milling round exterior of the tents on Victoria Island. His deeply furrowed forehead and faraway expression, nevertheless, belonged to a person with larger issues on his thoughts. “I all the time get so anxious earlier than a present,” he mentioned, shifting nervously from foot to foot. “I simply surprise, ‘What is going to folks make of my garments?’ ”

His label Maxivive has a status for polarizing the Nigerian style group, pushing an thought of minimalism and androgyny that turns conventional menswear tropes the wrong way up and inside out. One merchandise in his new assortment—a pair of tailor-made grey slacks-cum-chaps—ignited a firestorm of unfavourable suggestions on Twitter, with a whole bunch of commenters voicing their outrage at his subversive tackle the 9-to-5 gown code. “It made me comfortable that there was one one that truly seen the practical facet of the look,” mentioned Oyeyemi with out the slightest trace of irony. “There’s truly a clip in the again that’s designed to carry a button-down in place when a person sits down.”


Sensible or not, his garments are actually compelling dialog starters. Past the flamboyant showpieces in the lineup—sequin trousers, thigh-excessive sock boots, and sheer drawstring pants adorned with floral elaborations and pictures of the Virgin Mary, for instance—there was suiting reworked in methods each delicate and ingenious. One blazer in his new assortment gave the impression to be layered up like a set of Russian dolls; one other got here cinched on the waist with a neatly knotted tie. As a psychology main, the designer has a behavior of embedding subliminal messages in his collections, and most of the appears have been trimmed together with his twisted affirmations, together with one which learn: “I didn't get up like this, that is how I look now.”

“The controversy round gender fluidity is simply starting to open up in Nigeria,” mentioned Oyeyemi. “I needed to discover that with this new assortment, however I didn’t need to come off as cliché. It’s not about placing a person in a lady’s wardrobe.” His model of the boundary-breaking aesthetic is arguably extra nuanced. Although the opening look—an uneven grey swimsuit with midi-size skirt—might need learn female in a Western context, the reference was rooted in conventional Nigerian menswear, particularly the dishevelled trousers worn underneath the broad-sleeved gown often known as an Agbada in Yoruba. “I attempt the place I can to interrupt new floor,” he mentioned. “It's a must to be a disruptor to encourage progress, mess up the construction of issues a bit.”


Having based his label 10 12 months in the past on the tender age of 15, Oyeyemi has been shaking up the West African style system for fairly a while now. He scrapped the Western notion of seasons 4 years in the past, renaming his Spring 2013 assortment Harmattan 2013, after the dry season on the West African subcontinent that happens between November and March. Fall 2013 then turned often known as Moist 2013 to align with the area’s wet months. Lagos style insiders scoffed on the thought at first, however finally many adopted swimsuit. And although his collections usually obtain combined opinions at residence, he’s gained worldwide recognition, displaying at South Africa’s Menswear Week earlier this 12 months with an upcoming exhibit on the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam in the close to future. “Individuals inform me I ought to transfer my enterprise to Paris, however I’m comfortable figuring out of my studio in Lagos,” he mentioned. “I could be forward of my time proper now, however I can see that there’s a shifting taking place. Individuals will catch up in time.”

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This Boundary-Pushing Menswear Label Is Shaking Up Gender Norms in Nigeria -