Lagos Based Designer Amaka Osakwe of “Maki Oh” is a prime example of the value of “branding” for African Fashion. In my previous post here, I talked about the need for African Fashion to learn a thing or two about branding as it is essential towards making their designs profitable. With branding, however comes strategically communicating your brand’s value and this latest Spring 2015 collection by Maki Oh has done that once again.
There is a sense of trustworthiness to her new collection down to the way it is presented to her audience. In fact, it is one of two (other Duro Olowu) Spring 2015 collections by an African designer reviewed by Style.com, the premier go-to destination for the latest fashion news and trends (owned by Conde Nast, owners of Vogue Magazine). I need people to know that this is no small feat for Maki Oh and really needs to be praised as she is one of the most important African fashion designers of our time with fresh ideas that are different and pleasing to the eyes. It is also not surprising that Maki Oh continues to be a well-respected African Fashion brand by powerful women like Michelle Obama. As always, she is original, clear and consistent in the way she infuses her cultural heritage into the clothes she designed for this new collection that even Style.com described them “as elegant, wearable, and the kind of pieces women are sure to connect with.” These are the reasons why African Fashion Needs Maki Oh. She understands the essence of branding.
With a radical change afoot, for spring, I welcome the new Maki Oh collection dubbed the “virgin” collection, which probes “the original meaning of the word virgin—a woman who had left her parents’ home, was unbetrothed, and could take any lover she pleased.” Whatever your view is of this description, you will be confronted by clothes with radically different proportions not akin to the often demure portrayal of African fashion. For example, the up-to-there slit in a black glitter pencil skirt (below) she showcased portrayed her message loud and clear. Here is a skirt, for a woman who is free-spirited and can do as she pleases.
Then there were the provocative shoulder-barring tops on dresses or the use of chiffon fabric in dresses or skirts that any African woman dare not wear to church. But in context, they were effortlessly stylish and show the range of talent in Amaka and her extraordinary passion to create clothes that evoke her vision, something often utterly missing in many African fashion designs.
Her love for her cultural heritage was also visible in this new collection. In fact, she continues to make Adire prints look and feel ethereal, melding them in silhouettes that are modern and worthy of praises. Anyone who knows anything about Nigerian fabrics, ought to know that Adire is one of the few authentic fabrics we have and so I am very appreciative of the fact that she continues to make her own unique contribution towards preserving and elevating this dying fabric. I could go on and on, but instead, I’ll rather let the clothes do the talking and conclude that African fashion needs Maki Oh, if not for anything, but to learn a thing or two about the power of branding.