We cannot deny that African fashion has more than sky-rocketed over the past few years. In her bid to take it to the next level, Designer Reni Folawiyo had an exclusive interview with renowned U.S publication, Wall Street Journal on her soon to be launched concept store – Alara.
In collaboration with Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, the duo see Alara as multi-phase project that will eventually include a restaurant and a landscape garden in Victoria Island, Lagos.
In her interview, Reni talks about stocking pieces from high end brands including Stella McCartney, Duro Olowu, Dries Van Noten, Marni and Valentino; but apart from that she also explains that clients can get to see Made in Africa pieces as well. According to her “Just because we live in a country that has problems does not mean that we are excluded from the enjoyment of beautiful things“.
Reni shares the same vision with Tokini Peterside (Alara’s Strategy & Project Manager) and Amaka Osakwe (Popular Nigerian Designer) whom Reni ranks among Alara’s most important brand ambassadors.
For the interview, WST meets with David Adjaye, Tokini Peterside, Amaka Osakwe, Duro Olowu and follows Reni as she meets with Lagos artisans, designers and more – gearing up for the unveil of the Alara concept store.
Read excerpts below.
Reni on convincing European buyers to buy African
“We need to convince clientele to buy European designs locally, not just to call it in or fly to Europe”.
David Adjaye on Reni’s original concept for the Alara
“Reni wanted to create an African-inspired store that would be a destination for clients in Nigeria but also for pan-African travelers. One that would curate the incredible talent pool on the continent that’s been invisible.”
Amaka Osakwe on the African heritage in fashion
“Storytelling is a huge part of our culture,” says Osakwe, whose collections also draw on a range of non-African characters and narratives, from Dante’s Inferno to Rosie the Riveter. “We try to tell a story with our clothing. It could be a warning, or a piece of cloth that says to your husband, ‘I’m sorry for annoying you.’ “
To read the rest of the interview visit online.wsj.com
Photo Credit: online.wsj.com | Photography: Jamie Hawkesworth for WSJ. Magazine