‘Lagos Style – Orange Culture’, the Ethical Fashion Podcast’s latest episode, is the show’s ninth in its twelve-episode series dedicated to African art and creativity. Aired on May 20th, the episode features Orange Culture’s founder Adebayo Oke-Lawal for a discussion on fusing fashion with activism and what that looks like in modern-day Africa.
A pioneer in tackling societal issues through clothing in the region, Oke-Lawal launched Orange Culture in 2011 as a form of creative activism. On its inception, Oke-Lawal insists, “Deciding to create a brand was an intentional decision. I didn’t just want to create another brand that just made clothing. I wanted to create a brand that had some level of emotionality behind it… I love the idea of creating a brand that starts conversations. I really wanted a brand that spoke for things I believe in.”
The Lagos-based designer has been passionate about fashion since childhood, and his vision for Orange Culture stemmed from the desire to speak up against issues in society – toxic masculinity taking center stage. “We’ve had a collection that spoke against abuse. We had a collection that spoke against oppression… The point is that every collection is intentional and is creating some sort of social conversation.” The luxury label and his extensive, impressive work throughout his career have won him accolades in international fashion circles but it’s his particular approach to giving back to the community that’s had an impactful ripple effect.
Since 2011, he’s been captivating audiences with his androgynous garments through Orange Culture and, more recently, through his latest entrepreneurial educative initiative, Orange Mentoring, he is fighting the good fight: ensuring young African creatives see success through the necessary guidance and mentorship.
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In this hour-long discussion, Oke-Lawal defines the importance of speaking up, speaking out, and acting on your values to have a greater impact, from high fashion to everyday life. “When we have a conversation and we consistently push that conversation, people begin to listen to you. At first, they are afraid. The second time, they are alarmed…Fourth time, they are like, “Alright, maybe I need to listen to him… and then it just keeps going.”
Simone Cipriani (Founder and Head of the Ethical Fashion Initiative (“EFI”) and Clare Press (Sustainable Journalist and Writer), return to host the second series of the Ethical Fashion podcast, first launched in June 2020 to champion the power of discussion and explore the issues driving the ethical fashion conversation. The new series focuses on African stories in light of the EFI’s work on “creating jobs and regenerating the social capital in some of the most challenging environments, which is something we started doing in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2018”, says Cipriani.
About the Ethical Fashion Initiative
EFI is a flagship program of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. For the Ethical Fashion Initiative, lifestyle choices impact livelihoods. EFI creates and strengthens social enterprises in emerging economies to connect discerning international brands in fashion, interiors, and fine foods with talented local designers, artisans, and micro-producers. Savvy investors, pro-poor champions, and mindful consumers find value in a virtuous circle that creates not just premium products, but also stable, dignified work, and creative and resilient women, men, and communities.
The EFI’s Identity Building and Business Sharing Initiative showcases creativity and talent in fashion and beyond, in an effort to strengthen the cultural sectors including art, photography, cinema, and music. Operational in seven dynamic new countries — Cote d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Mali, Uganda, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan — this chapter of EFI works in hand with leaders from the private sector to generate trade and more importantly, social capital. Find out more HERE or on Instagram @ethicalfashion. This EFI Identity Building and Business Sharing Initiative is funded by the EU.