Nigerian Designers
Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country, with about 223.8 million people, and Lagos is its biggest city. Underemployment and unemployment remain a challenge in Nigeria, especially for the youth. Several Nigerian designers are using their platforms and knowledge to create opportunities for African artisans and young Nigerian designers.

5 Nigerian Designers Empowering People

  1. Lola Faturoti. As the designer of LolaLovesCargo, Lola Faturoti created a label that seeks to preserve Indigenous crafters’ traditional designs and skills. Sometime after fashion school in London and beginning her career in New York and Milan, Faturoti took some time off. During this time, she realized how damaging the fashion industry can be and sustainability became deeply important to her; LolaLovesCargo reflects these ideals. The label’s mission is to employ and empower those in disadvantaged regions globally by representing the craftsmanship of people in Indigenous communities. LolaLovesCargo partners with a manufacturing company located in a rural area of Sri Lanka with high unemployment rates. The team consists mainly of women and the company takes into account women’s needs for an environment that promotes education and upholds health and safety.
  2. Deola Ade-Ojo Sagoe. As the designer and founder of House of Deola, Sagoe’s design career began after completing her tertiary education in business administration and finance. She started working for her mother’s traditional embroidery business and sought to expand her mother’s label by incorporating contemporary designs. Sagoe has carved a way for herself in the fashion industry using “African hand-woven materials.” Sagoe also served as Nigeria’s ambassador for a U.N. World Food Programme campaign called “Catwalk the World: Fashion for Food.” The international campaign aimed to generate awareness and funds for starving children globally.
  3. Motunrayo Agusto. Motunrayo “Mo” Agusto is the CEO and artistic director at M.O.T. Agusto guides her company’s methods and means of production with a strong sense of empowering “human capital development.” All business activities are conducted “in-house” instead of outsourcing to third parties. This ensures that Agusto can oversee the clothing-making process while creating opportunities for local artisans and creatives in Lagos, Nigeria. Agusto works to elevate Nigerian designers, creatives and artisans by offering employment opportunities in a challenging and competitive industry.
  4. Ohimai Atafo. The founder and creative director of ATAFO, Ohimai Atafo, held many roles in fashion before he ultimately decided to attend fashion school in Milan and set up his own brand.
    Having had his label for several decades and seen much success, Atafo uses his experience and expertise to empower the next generation of African designers. As a supporter of the African fashion movement, he advocates for and empowers young Nigerian designers and artisans. His free mentorship program, Fashion Conversations, seeks to provide inspiring young designers with the knowledge and resources of fashion design to start their own labels and make their way in the fashion industry. Atafo sees Nigeria’s fashion industry as a “vehicle for development.”
  5. Nkwo Onwuka. Nkwo Onwuka’s label NKWO focuses on combining sustainability and preserving traditional designer and manufacturing skills. For NKWO, sustainability is purposeful and not a trend. Onwuka’s label is conscious of reducing textile waste and upcycling. The company works to employ local artisans, particularly women, to preserve a dying craft of traditional African textile work techniques.

These Nigerian designers not only bring unique African designs to the global market but also empower local artisans in the process through job opportunities and mentorship, thereby positively contributing to poverty reduction.

– Maya Steele
Photo: Flickr