For the first time ever, Lagos witnessed a three-day cultural exchange during the Easter weekend. Featuring international and local fashion collaborations, a celebrity football tournament and a live show, the HOMECOMING project delivered an all-encompassing experience to guests.
While Nike hosted a workshop allowing guests to customize their own Nike jerseys and the likes of Skepta and Wizkid played a riotous show, a two-day pop-up shop kicked off the weekend where guests shopped local brands such as Orange Culture, Kenneth Ize, WafflesNCream, GREY and global brands like Off-White and PATTA.
The pop-up brought together friends from the world of music, fashion and art. The atmosphere was energetic with young teens, adults, creatives and influencers all shopping their favorite brands and discovering new ones.
Highsnobiety caught up with some of the people inside Lagos’s thriving creative scene, to find out what makes the Nigerian capital different to the rest of the world, the struggles and challenges that face local creatives, and how they stay true to their own roots when contributing to a global culture.
Teezee, Co-founder of ‘The NATIVE’ Magazine
“African-American culture was definitely what we were exposed to whilst growing up. For instance, Tupac singlehandedly made Hennessy the biggest brand in Nigeria.”
“The digital space has given us a global platform, and the leverage we get from collaborations with global brands also increase credibility in your line of work.”
“It’s very difficult for a young entrepreneur to make opportunities possible for themselves at that level because the higher-ups are suppressing us. They want everything to come from them. So they don’t support you on the level that is needed no matter how talented you are. We’re here today to make sure that shit stops. That’s how it’s been everywhere else in the world. So it’s time that Africa embraces that. I think slowly that’s happening.”
Mowalola, Menswear Designer
“I get a lot of inspiration from the people I see walking down the road. I love how they mix the most wrong colors but everything is just really exciting. It’s like bad fashion but great… it’s a lot different from the streetwear around the world.”
“We have a DIY mentality, so regardless of what’s happening we’re still gonna just get our shit done. No one’s gonna hold us back. It’s gonna come through. I show in London and I just make sure that when I speak about my work people know exactly where it’s from and why I do what I do. I’m not shy to tell people I’m Nigerian and that’s what inspired me.”
Jimmy Ayeni, Ola Badiru and Anthony Oye, Vivendii
“What people don’t really know about Lagos is that it’s probably just as connected to pop culture as any other place. So when something drops in the UK or in the US, people in Lagos know about it, and they wanna gain access to it too.”
“I think social media has given us a chance to showcase exactly what it is that we’re doing out here. And with that, Eurocentrism has been suppressed a bit. I’m not sure if it’s true Afrocentrism or if it’s the gentrification of that. For example, Gucci used traditional wear of the Edo people in Nigeria, beads that they’re selling for like five, six hundred pounds. And the Edo people are not seeing the money.
But I feel, with gentrification, comes the necessary amount of awareness. It’s now just about the people to gain ownership and not let their authentic ideas be completely sold. Of course it’s all good for Gucci to be selling Edo beads, but it has to come back and give something real to the community. Don’t just come here, steal the ideas and sell them elsewhere.”
“What’s embedded in a lot of Nigerian people is discipline and hard work. They have to work in very strenuous and frustrating environments. In Nigeria, people struggle to keep businesses alive every day, in a country whereby there’s no light, there’s no electricity 24/7. Imagine how many people go out of business daily.”
Dafe Oboro, Filmmaker, Photographer and Broadcast Journalist
“What I love about Nigerian style is that no one really thinks about what they’re gonna wear unless they are going to a party or something. Not too much thought is put into it, it’s original. It’s not calculated, it’s not trendy, it’s just them.”
“We can still stay true to our art because there is a demand for it. People outside want this. It can take one person to come to Lagos and really experience what we have here for the other people to follow suit. A few months after this event, check again and you see loads of people coming here, tapping into this creative vibe. We can really stay true to our art without changing it because that’s what they want. They don’t want anything polished or filtered. They are coming for this.”
Adebayo Okelawal, Creative Director of Orange Culture
“In the past people grew up being told that the only exciting fashion was from other parts of the world. You were cool if you were wearing Gap, Levi’s or Chanel. People got respect for wearing those brands, so they didn’t really want to invest in local consumption.”
“The international market obviously has been a huge part of our growth. But, we can see that the local market is also increasing, and local consumption is becoming cool.”
“One of the things that we experience is a lack of foundation in the industry. For a brand, if you’re starting off, you didn’t really have a lot of resources to work with. The labor isn’t skilled because we didn’t have fashion schools then. People were self-trained, self-taught, the brands were self-taught. Then, you don’t have the financial backing because the government isn’t investing in fashion. You’re literally starting off on your own as a sole body.”
“When you then try to compete globally, if you’re not a fast-thinker or a fast-learner, you will crumble really quickly. Because they have all of these resources and all of this backing, and we are really pushing in comparison. But thankfully, the industry is getting better. I feel like with time, those barriers will be a lot less. We’re being forced to work with what we have. It makes the talent more organic. We’re just coming up with our own solutions and telling our own stories.”
Stephen Tayo, Photographer & Stylist
“I feel like creatives that live here don’t really believe in themselves. We shouldn’t be stuck in a dynamic where we only look at everything from the West. We want to do it our way. I mean Kanye is good but he’s not our culture.”
“When someone from abroad comes here and sees all of these great things, they need to make sure that they invest. Homecoming is for the people that live here. It’s getting things back into our own country, and it’s great. It’s been nice to see that there’s a more healthy dynamic going on here.”
Leonard, Onyedi, Paolo & Olaolu, Skaters for WFLSNCRM and Founders of @Ourmotherlan
“It’s so hard to get shit done here. Have you ever gone to the Lagos market to sort out fabric before? You’re going to come out smelling like the market, sweaty.”
“Everyone researches and you can’t research without looking into other people who’ve made it. Basically, us, we’re genuine, we know what we want, we’re already influenced by the street and by our culture so we just mix the two together and we make magic. That’s what Homecoming is about, people showing that they come from here and this is where they’re supposed to be at.”
Rukky Ladoja, Creative Director of Grey
“You’re either someone who is already very wealthy, or you struggle quite a lot and maybe the people around you don’t even understand what you’re trying to do: they think that you should get a 9-5 job and live off of that. So I think what we’re doing here with Homecoming is one of the most important things that you can do: show how important it is to tell your own unique creative story.”
“I understand more that the woman who is wearing my clothes wants to infuse what she’s buying with streetwear. I need to be able to design and create knowing that that’s happening around me.”
Wavy The creator, Performer
“Nigeria is a very big place, and there are a lot of opinions, a lot of styles and views. So it’s about finding that certain crowd that can fuck with what you’re doing and care enough to spread it out. It’s harder to reach people locally than to reach people internationally. But once it’s popping out in the US people back here are like, “Oh! This is actually dope.” Like we’re reverting back the stuff that actually came from here in the first place.”
“The Nigerian culture is so strong, I don’t think it could ever leave you. We take it everywhere and we just infuse it in whatever we do. It’s very important for us to still have that culture no matter where we at.”
- Writer: Violette Esmeralda