With traditional fabrics, Nigerian designers fashion a new aesthetic
Weaving contemporary designs into a traditional West African fabric, Nigerian Tsemaye Binitie is creating fashion he hopes can also bridge the gap between luxury and the everyday.
His material of choice is Aso-oke, a hand-woven cloth indigenous to the Yoruba people and historically used on special occasions.
Binitie, who cut his teeth as a design assistant with Stella McCartney in 2005, began using the fabric in 2017, and he infuses the yellow dresses that are his signature creations with cottons and silks to give them a post-modern feel.
Priced at between $300 and $4,000, his TB12 custom collection features Aso-oke – which means “top cloth” in Yoruba – in seven different shades.
That same synthesis informs the aesthetic of Alara, a Lagos store dedicated to showcasing contemporary African fashion for the Nigerian and the diaspora markets. Its Head of Partnerships, Arinola Fagbemi, says more and more people are thinking about African luxury “in terms of how we live on a day-to-day basis … not just for celebratory moments.
VR Niti Sejpal