As FADER’s love affair with Nigerian label Maki Oh and it’s namesake founder Amaka Osakwe grows, so to does my own personal long distance admiration of the designer and her works continue to be nurtured.
In their latest feature on the designer and the significance of her Maki Oh as a Lagos-based and Nigerian-centered homegrown label, the FADER’s style editor at large Mobolaji Dawodu, who’s half-Nigerian, recollects his childhood in Lagos and connects his nostalgic remembrances of the role clothes, style and tailoring plays in Lagos life, to the ways in which the relevance and dynamics of these traditions are being interestingly resurrected by Maki Oh’s use of non-Western Nigerian cloths such as Adire that are both made in and originate in Nigeria (although similar indigo dying techniques are used throughout much of West Africa).
Maki draws from the traditional stuff, because that’s where it started, but she’s mixing it up.
In this regard, Maki Oh stands out from a sea of African designers who are using non-African textiles (i.e. Dutch Wax print) that have become synonymous with what we often refer to as ‘African fashion’, and often mistaken for being of African origin.
Maki’s work stands out because she uses fabrics in Africa that aren’t the norm. Nowadays, everybody is doing a lot of beautiful designs with African prints, or ankara—like the Turkish capital. But the fabrics that Maki uses are more obscure. When you see an African print, you look at it and you’re like, Oh that’s an African print, but what she uses, when you look at it, it’s not just about Africa. It’s a mesh of many influences. A lot of ankara fabrics are actually imported from Holland these days; the prints that Maki uses will be hand-painted and stitched in Nigeria, but they’ll be a play on those traditional designs and the stories they tell, like a dress that’s covered in eyes, or fish, or a very contemporary-looking abstract design.