African style in the last few years has been terrific and highly centered on exploring the boundaries of ‘individuality’, deep within the idea of being fashionable, expressive and in touch with an African taste, transcending the era of ‘tailors posing as designers’, Ankara as an African fashion compass, and giving way for a multi-cultural mix of western influence coupled with our own Afrocentric styles. Africa has created a new reality in the world’s fashion ecosystem which is been pioneered by fashion houses birthed within the last few years.
There’s nothing more beautiful than the artistic nature of fashion. The idea of fashion as a function of storytelling is layer we’re beginning to understand in our African community.
The world stole our culture to recreate their own, and now they’ve come to Africa to directly create with us, presumably because we’re carving a new paradigm of what taste is while maintaining the African narrative.
We have a pool of influencers, fashion houses, stylists, creative/artistic directors, and an entire ecosystem determined to take on the world of fashion, and are committed to establishing a need for the recognition of unaltered African narratives. The ripple effect of their tenacity manifests day after day as media platforms like Vogue, Elle, and I_d are taking a much closer look at the scene, Also, world celebrities have been seen wearing clothes from African fashion brands. It is evident that by soaking in so much sense of style both globally and locally we’re able to interpret something innately ours.
We’re here to talk about one of the nascent fashion houses from Nigeria who believes they are restructuring Africa’s narrative. They want to create clothes that tell stories about their African generation through the art of fashion and imagery. PithAfrica is a young a dual-sex fashion house, founded in Lagos, Nigeria by Cosmas Ojemen who serves as the Creative Director, Head of Operations Emeka Anazodo, and Artistic Director Adedayo Laketu.
In their own words, ‘The company sets out to build a fashion house inspired by the refreshed understanding of Africa’s diverse and consciously aware millennial generation. They aspire to create for young Africans who are more exposed now than ever: a generation of African content creators, athletes, developers, artists of all mediums, creatives, and innovators who are pioneering bound breaking ideas. We are people who set out to create clothes by first and foremost engaging our immediate environment in order to understand the layers and emotions being passed across each garb in search of individuality. For now, we are creating clothes to document a timeline of growth and outburst of the creative scene in Africa starting from Nigeria and to document our growth trajectory as artists.’
There’s no doubt that Africa is becoming a top player in the global fashion industry, and behind it, all, are young individuals who are not afraid to explore and embrace their individuality. Fashion is such an important narrative to a growing generation, it helps you understand them more intimately. The clothes they wear are representations of what they stand for, what they dream to achieve, and hope to be.
A lot of brands are taking on this mantle, curating clothes that speak directly to this demographic. It’s hard to know what their trends are but it’s easy to know it’s all based on being able to express themselves to the fullest. A market of young individuals looking for fashion that makes them at ease with their inner core. It’s more than just the brand but how the brand connects to their daily lives.
PithAfrica believes they are at the center of this, slowly building a brand that understands Africa’s new fashion society. Their design language is ‘minimal, conceptual, and quintessentially aesthetic with great attention to detail’. They are on a mission to support local craft, ‘all our pieces and accessorises made locally by indigenous Tailors and craftsmen who are able to accommodate their design principles’, it seems they’re on the right track.
The brand which was founded in January 2017 started in an unusual way of releasing its debut collection. Unlike most brands, they decided to start with a conceptual fashion story, an abstraction which they call ‘Dilly’ to help narrate their essence. Dilly which means remarkable is about capturing the little details they want their clothes to represent using messages and concepts from their growth as a brand in their African landscape and how it relates to their young demographic of customers. So far they’ve released two mini-collections which they describe as chapters in their fashion story.
‘Dilly 1: A beginning’, which debuted in their first year of inception featured: pants, tops, an experimental trench coat, and a mini gown which were all made with a brown suede fabric. This was created to find an identity within their brand; hence, the use a color palette that felt natural in contrast to their melanin skin, and designs minimal to the primitive state of things around. ‘We asked ourselves who we are, making the designs simple but technical in a way that sees African style prevail within the African struggle. We leave a statement that fashion can be a way to find one’s voice within the chaos of life. There’s beauty in the madness of our own skin and environment, you just have to look close’
‘Dilly 2: Streetwear’, their most recent collection released in 2018, featured: a onesie, skirt, top, cargo-inspired pants, “a knockoff Tee’’, one strap bags, and a mule all in an ‘Orange Palette’ the colour of the collection. The collection was summed as a collection of clothes designed to express their timeline’s creativity, rawness, and vigor using designs that are both functional and free. ‘While developing our second mini-collection through the lens of Virgil Albloh and Demna Gvasalia, streetwear’s transition into high fashion became mainstream, and it sprinkled down to Africa with the birth of African streetwear brands like WafflesNCream and Modus Vivendii. That inspired us to take on this conversation because we’ve always loved the idea of Streetwear and high-fashion being one.’
Their most standout product, the ‘One Strap Bag (OSB)’ best defines everything the brand hopes to achieve. Created in vibrant colors, of Orange, Mustard and Green, it’s a cross body bag designed to cater to the mobile millennial. The bag also as an interesting layer to it, it comes with a marker which the brands says is for the owner to express themselves on it turning it into a functional art piece of their own. Somewhat similar to the idea behind most of Virgil Alboh’s collaborations. ‘The fundamental and most important thing is that you extend a part of your identity to the OSB. By doing this, we believe that the OSB not only becomes a functional style element but also an extension of your inner Pith and your journey towards self-centric style.‘
PithAfrica wants to stand for something with their idea of how fashion should be interpreted, to have an impact both socially and culturally for a New Age of Africans creating beyond the box of the mundane as they help push the search for ‘beauty and individuality’. We look forward to what PithAfrica has in store next.