In 2016, Nigerian Born designer Taofeek Abijako started what turned out to be a blooming brand that will have an impact in the fashion, art and design world. He founded HEAD OF STATE+, a design company which looks to focus on an art installation, fashion, furniture, and product designs, Head Of State was created on the principle of furthering a philosophy of “thoughtful, inconspicuous, and honest designs”. Taofeek who relocated to America, followed in his dad’s footsteps, a trained fashion designer while living in Nigeria who dealt mostly with local traditional garments, his brand HEAD OF STATE+ has been able to gain attention with a release of four collections since it’s inception. Taofeek also paints which he weaves into his fashion design. The name HEAD OF STATE+ was inspired by the song “Coffin for Head of State” by the legendary Fela Kuti, which touches on the corruption of the church and government in Nigeria. His brand typically features wide-necked sweatshirts, cropped half-zips, fitted jeans and loungey basics.
‘The 19-year-old raised funds for his fashion projects by hand painting sneakers and selling them online. His sneakers rose to prominence when The Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg posted a pair of Taofeek’s custom Vans on Instagram.‘, Konbini reports.
I’m not necessarily focused on filling a gap in the industry, for me, it’s more of focusing on the storytelling the brand is about: presentation of ideas without constraint. My work is a reflection of who I am and that’s interwoven with my cultural upbringing. – Taofeek shared with Konbini about the brand’s position in the fashion industry.
His work so far has centered on using high-end streetwear to create pieces that touch on who he his, where he’s from, his art and creating a narrative for the young diasporans to believe in what they can achieve. Head of State+ has been featured on numerous publications with The New York Times Style Magazine labeling them a “brand to watch” to watch in 2017, with an array of stockist in Canada, U.S., and Tokoyo, the brand’s growth has been a fairytale story from the very start.
I approach Head of State+ as less of a brand and more of a case study. It’s me digging into my cultural upbringing while trying to have a firm grasp and understanding of it. My belief is furthering a philosophy of thoughtful, inconspicuous, and honest design across the board.
Taofeek Abijako’s spring/summer 2019 collection called “Genesis” which he debuted this week at New York Fashion Week: Men’s recently made him the Youngest Designer To Showcase at the event at just 19.
“Genesis” is the translation of Afro-futurism portrayed by the likes of Parliament-Funkadelic and Sun Ra through the lens of West African youth – while at the same time celebrating the vibrancy of West African youth culture in the ‘70s and drawing parallels to modern time. The continuous homage to Fela Kuti is also portrayed.
Taofeek’s dream is to create a brand that helps create more understanding with the struggles of his home nation Nigeria and the beauty, creativity, and innovation that still resonates from the people, ‘Design gives us the privilege and luxury to highlight and raise awareness on any topic.‘ For now, all of his operations are still based in New York but we await his return home, to spark more energy using fashion as his tool to communicate.