Inspired by similarly named clothing abstraction #Dilly, created through his fashion house Pith Africa, Akhere Cosmas, More Branches’ Chief Fashion Columnist begins an editorial series highlighting the role of fashion in creating new narratives, documenting sub-cultures and clothing a new generation through interview pieces with fashion pioneers.
The atmosphere in the fashion scene is in a continuous cycle of revolution, who we are as people changes in every country on Africa every passing moment, our story becomes unique as we grow into a more innovative and industrious continent. We’ve kept a close eye on the transformation occurring in our streetwear, high-fashion and ready-to-wear scene, it’s been beautiful to watch us be more with what we wear. Each layer gets beautiful every time a young innovative fashion house decides to add their voice, culture and design to make the narrative even broader for African fashion.
We have one of those individuals seeking a frontier in the dimensions of freedom and how much influence fashion has in helping us show ourselves. Faith Oluwajimi the Creative Director and Head Designer of fashion brand, BLOKE. BLOKE started in Abeokuta, Nigeria in the year 2013 but moved to Lagos in 2015 where they are now based. With each collection, Faith Oluwajimi reaches higher levels of abstraction, taking his art of making clothes and cuts with his knitting techniques and makeshift form of visualizing clothes to more obscure heights. BLOKE was featured as one of the Vogue Talents on Vogue Italia as No 34 out of 200 Emerging brands changing Fashion Globally. The brand also got featured in Pansy Magazine, Native Mag & Accelerate TV.
We caught up with Faith Oluwajimi for a few questions.
What does Bloke mean, how did the name come about?
Faith Oluwajimi: BLOKE is an artisanal androgynous label that designs well thought out garments that is Quirky, Artsy; Gender Blurring with a masculine meets feminine Aesthetic.
The name came from my intention of exploring masculinity.
Perusing through your Instagram, there is a certain darkness to your aesthetic, take us through your design process, how do clothes make it to your collection.
Faith Oluwajimi: Well it’s actually a fairly long process, at first I think of the theme, then break the theme down into fragments, and put it back bit by bit. While doing this, my mind starts building on what is the best way to tell the story for the season.
So the garments I’m making for that collection has to be able to tell that story collectively and also align with the brand’s ethos.
In the growing African fashion ecosystem, where would you place Bloke as a knitwear brand in the minds of a millennial demographic particularly integrating the brand in the day to day engagement and functionality?
Faith Oluwajimi: BLOKE is not necessarily a ‘knitwear’ brand we just happen to have a penchant for knitwear, we create garments that aren’t knitted also, what’s most important to us is whatever it is we are making it has to be in line with our core values as a brand.
Our knit also are depending on the season in view, for spring/summer collection we do make lightweight pieces that work well with the African climate making them functional.
Bloke has been crafting collections since 2014, tell us about navigating through the obscure supply chain in this fledging industry.
Faith Oluwajimi: Well, it hasn’t been an easy feat and all our collections have been produced in-house since inception by myself and my in-house team.
I was introduced to machine knitting by a family friend, who thought me how to use the knitting machine which I was so fascinated about which lead me into designing knitwear and fashion in general. – Faith Oluwajimi told Vogue Italia
What does Bloke hope to achieve as a brand?
Faith Oluwajimi: We plan to be a label with a penchant for knitwear also serving as a community of people who are spiritually conscious, art lovers, unconventional with an African identity. Also continually exploring the possibilities for the creation of knitted garments, and not only.
What does distinctiveness as a fashion statement mean to Bloke?
It means everything!
Bloke was enlisted as one of the finalists for the 2018 LFDW fashion focus program, what more can we expect from Bloke?
Apart from showing our SS19 collection on the runway as a result of being an LFW fashion focus finalist. We are also planning a presentation slated for a later date in the year as a result of an ongoing collaborative project with a British designer.
His new AW18 offering is called ‘Celui qui ne vient jamais‘ campaign, he explains it as:
How would you feel if a wish never came, and or a dream never materialized Heartbreak? Exactly!
Bringing about the theme, ‘celui qui ne vient jamais’. The idea of an individual longing for love with no equal return. Even with a total expression of the feeling, it is never returned.
Based on the above, I induced the possible feelings, emotions and thoughts process of such individual which may lead to resentment, emptiness and heartbreak.
For fabrication, I perceived colourism as a possible barrier to finding love by such individual, therefore, we used different shades of brown to represent this.
Also, depicting the melancholic romanticism of our story with the colours black, pink and white.
With pieces ranging from knitted to tailored garments.
AW18 offering ‘CELUI QUI NE VIENT JAMAIS’ Camp
Photography: Kene Nwatu
Styling, Creative and Art direction : Faith Oluwajimi
Model: Nwankwo-okere Chinedu
Location: BaroqueAge Studio