Reminiscing on my final semester in university, typical days were filled with prolong conversations about fashion [my singular interest]. I engaged disparate dialogues with friends on the state of global fashion which at that time was hinged on capturing the inclusivity of streetwear culture in a fortified bourgeoisie scene.
Demna Gvasalia for Vetements, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele and OFF-WHITE, Virgil Abloh‘s baby released collections channeling everyday street style into high fashion, it was instrumental in creating a new approach to explore street fashion.
Still basking in the euphoria of this paradigm shift, we idolized Stussy and Supreme who pioneered the streetwear culture rooted in surf and skateboarding, which laid ground principles for current brands to expound on. One of the many reasons we resonate so deeply with streetwear brands is the lusty connection they maintain with youths.
Understanding that youths are open minded, opinionated and take risks is as important and was reflective of the clothes.
Also, we pondered on Nigeria’s fashion scene and identified gaps in clothing the growing streetwear culture. It was poorly represented with baseless rhetorics, the absurdity of it all was its exclusivity.
Streetwear is about connecting several elements on the ‘cultural spectrum’ linked by a vibe of freedom and self expression. That’s the layer we failed to address.
Fast forward six months later, news about a skateboard community in Nigeria gained ubiquity with feature editorials on BBCAfrica and CNN. I am talking about WAFFLESNCREAM the community headlining the growing alternate sport scene in Nigeria. To be honest, when I initially heard of WAFFLESNCREAM I assumed it was just another brand labeled for ‘the cool kids and elite society’; probably a staple to identify with wealthy folks.
As time went on and videos of WAFFLESNCREAM circulated round, I noticed something peculiar about their engagement. One thing being that they were interactive with the city they lived in, almost like they wanted to see this community grow into a subculture existing as an ecosystem of individuals in love with the sports irrespective of economic and social status.
This was fascinating to me because we have a lot of brands posing to be for the culture but neglecting the primal essence of the culture and its growth.
In Africa, our society is plagued with poverty, as a result, pop culture revolves round a crop of people who in turn fail to communicate these changes to an underrepresented group further creating discrepancies in the system.
Back to Wafflesncream, the community engaged their environment by creating physical dialogues on the growing alternate sport scene in its rawest form.
They took the sports involving skate boards, bicycles, rollerblades and bikes to the streets of Lagos. This single act morphed into ceaseless conversations about freedom, and individuality, a representation of a young African mind being driven by his youthful will to experience life as crazy as it comes within Lagos vibrant culture.
With their Skate Show, a first of its kind in Lagos, Nigeria, they brought out the growing culture to be one, to feel at home with their board!
It’s refreshing to know that a number of young minds are being sensitized about the presence of the skating community, it’s not hoarded.
The idea is to provide every African kid equal opportunities to experience and be a part of this growing conversation.
They placed Africa in context while defining their underlying principles in order to explore multiple facets of the Nigerian, African scene.
Documenting a true view on self nurtured social incongruity and presenting an avenue to bridge this gap takes away the facade placed in the minds of people about the brand and serves as a catalyst in curating a culture that strips off entitlements based on social and economic relevance and is free for all.
In Nigeria, streetwear has a massive impact in fashion culture but we turn to western brands to garb a demographic of youths looking for an identity with clothes. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, many streetwear brands in Nigeria miss the point when designing for Africans market.
The goal of streetwear isn’t to design tees and hats; fair enough they make up streetwear, but the fundamental principle is to draw inspiration from our environment fusing it with the clothes. We don’t want to wear a T-shirt simply because that is streetwear, it’s got to mean something to us. We’ve got to feel like the clothes embody our identity. We are tired of these white guys clothing us man, we need to identify with something at home, something that voices our emotions, that portrays our cultural diversity; a voice for the youth.
Growing weary of this reality, WAFFLESNCREAM fused a streetwear line into the brand. It is aimed at representing the voiceless giving skaters and young people all over Africa a sense of belonging with the clothes. What is even more captivating is that the clothes also appeal to a fashion generation [irrespective of social standing].
They are gradually creating a conscious fashion environment in line with our cultural values.
Creating clothes which fit the weather, the vibe, and state of kids growing in the streets of Africa.
WAFFLESNCREAM is a family of skateboarders, graffiti artists, bmx riders, photographers and graphic designers all brought together with the goal of unifying the culture. A company driven by its youthful drive to break all limitations on what’s considered ‘normal’ and ‘accepted’.
‘AJEPAKO’ which translates to hustler is exemplified by ‘street living’. Filled with perks and snags, the streets builds character, curates culture and although it is perceived a peculiarity of an underrepresented group (typically those below the average social and economic strata), ‘the street’ is an indispensable contributor to everything around us.
The streets inspire art, music, ideas, the streets which makes up a large portion of our environment [due to our high poverty rate] is a part of all us.
This editorial aims to depict that with fashion, sports, and individualism, we can appreciate more of our environment, try new things, be free and do more for the culture.
All images shot by Baingor Joiner for WafflesNCream.