Heritage and branding mixed together in one pot by an upcoming Nigerian fashion designer Tunde Owolabi.
He is making strides in the country’s fashion scene with his brand – ‘ETHNIK’ which creates colourful accessories, sneakers, boots and sandals, all made from aso-oke a hand loomed traditional fabric woven by the Yoruba community who come from south west Nigeria.
“Nigeria is looking into manufacturing with the fall in oil prices and all and there can’t be a better time to be an entrepreneur because now we have to look inwards, find new means of making money, find new means of getting things done and helping the country to prosper as opposed to oil,” he said.
Nigerians are slowly and promisingly buying into the idea of buying proudly Nigerian.
Just recently, he held an exhibition in Lagos that attracted over 100 guests, many of whom were impressed by his work.
One visitor, Oris Aiggbokhaevbolo was one of those impressed by Owolabi’s work
“I feel like there is a need to carry some of our ancient culture in quote of course into where we are at the moment so I feel like by making it into shoes, making it into bags there is…. setting some kind of relevance culturally as well as economically for aso-oke both as a product and as a function of our culture as well” he said.
Owolabi invested over 11,500 U.S. dollars in the business and has already made a profit of nearly 20,000 dollars from the sale of about 700 fashion pieces.
With the country tussling with the economy, not only is he creating a name for himself but is helping a few other individuals make ends meet.He has six staff-members but says he is looking to employ young designers to help create even more cutting-edge work.