Top Ten Nigerian Fashion Designers

While we are fond of celebrating our musicians, actors, actresses, and footballers when they attain new heights in their careers we barely mention or recognize Nigerian fashion designers even tho they are making groundbreaking moves and representing the country in a good light.

Today we will be looking at some Nigerian Fashion Designers who are putting Nigerian/African fashion on the map and repping the country properly. These ones have preached the rich and diverse culture of the Nigerian and African people through their works.

Here are the top ten Nigerian Fashion Designers.

(1) Deola Sagoe

Deola Sagoe, an haute couture fashion designer, founder of The House of Deola Sagoe, and mother of 3 girls have played a part in putting African fashion on the map.

Her designing career which started in 1989 has gained recognition not just in Africa but in other parts of the world. In 2000, she won the MNET/Anglo Gold African Designs 2000 Award, she became the first black woman to present a collection at AltaRoma, Rome’s celebrated fashion week, back in 2004.

Deola was appointed by the United Nations World Food Program to represent Nigeria in a campaign titled “Catwalk the World: Fashion for Food.” This was aimed at raising funds to reduce, by half, the number of starving people in the world, especially children by 2015.

Her globally appealing style has earned her an enviable clientèle that ranges from Africa’s first ladies to society girls like Lydia Hearst, top model Alek Wek, and famous personalities such as Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith.

(2) Lisa Folawiyo

Lisa Folawiyo, the Nigerian fashion designer who is well known for incorporating traditional West African textiles with modern tailoring techniques with an emphasis on beading and sequin trim, holds a spot on the list of top ten fashion designers in Nigeria.

The mother of two who studied law at the University decided to go after what she truly loves which is Fashion and in 2005 she launched her own label ‘Jewel by Lisa’ from her home. She has showrooms in both Nigeria and New York and her collections are stocked in the UK, the US, South Africa, and Nigeria itself.

The uniqueness and beauty of her works haven’t gone unnoticed as she has bagged quite a handful of awards for herself. She won the African Fashion Awards in 2012 and she was featured in Vogue Italia that same year. Lisa was also named among the eight emerging talents in 2014 by Women’s Wear Daily (WWD). In 2015, BOF500 (Business Of Fashion 500), a prestigious list of international brands, featured the designer among top fashion brands making an impact on the global scene. She has participated in New York Fashion Week 2010 and Paris Fashion Week 2010.

(3) Folake Folarin-Coker

Fashion designer and creative director of Tiffany Amber, Folake Akindele Coker holds down a spot on the list of Top Ten Nigerian Fashion Designers.

After her education in Switzerland and the United Kingdom, She earned a postgraduate degree in petroleum law and returned to Nigeria to pursue her fashion interests. In 1998, She launched her fashion brand “Tiffany Amber” in Lagos and the brand has witnessed enormous growth since then as the brand currently has four stand-alone stores and boutiques in Lagos and Abuja.

Her impact in the fashion scene didn’t go unnoticed as she has earned a lot of accolades for her works. She has made Forbes Power Woman List, in 2008 she became the first African-based fashion designer to stage a show twice at the New York Fashion Week. In 2009, at the African fashion week which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, She became the first recipient of the “Designer of the Year.

Folake was also awarded “Fashion Brand of the Year” at the ARISE Magazine Fashion week in 2011. At the 2013 Women, Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) Symposium, she received an Enterprise Award.

(4) Duro Olowu

Born to a Nigerian father and a Jamaican mother in Lagos, Olowu was born and raised in the then-capital of Nigeria, Lagos.

At the age of 16, he moved to the United Kingdom and bagged a Law degree at the University of Kent after which he decided to go for his true passion which was fashion and his talent has since earned him global recognition and fame. In 2004 he started his own eponymous women’s wear label which was an instant success. From his Spring/Summer 2005 collection which he created in 2014, an empire-waist multi print silk dress from that collection, discovered by American Vogue editor Sally Singer, became an international success as it sold out in out in renowned stores including Barney’s New York, Browns and Harrods in London and Ikram in Chicago and many other locations.

American Vogue and British Vogue named it as the dress of the year. His career continued to grow subsequently as he went home with the award of ‘New Designer of the Year’ in 2005 at the British Fashion Awards and two years later, he made his runway debut at London Fashion Week. Olowu was also named the Best International Designer at the African Fashion Awards in 2009. The former first lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama also patronized his works as she frequently wore his designs. In 2015, Mrs. Obama also commissioned Olowu to decorate the Vermeil Room in the White House.

One of Olowu’s famous quotes is, “My job is not dictating to women what they should wear; it is presenting them with beautiful options.”

(5) Zizi Cardow

Zizi dumped her childhood dream of becoming a forensic profiler after she got her first fashion job in an Italian-owned boutique in Apapa, Lagos at the age of 17.

The job made her develop a keen interest and love for fashion. Four years later, with a desire to see Ankara worn to red-carpet events around the world, she left the job to start her own fashion brand “Zizi”.

Years later down the line, her vision has been actualized as the Ankara designs have now earned global fame. She has bagged some prestigious award too in her career. After just one year in the fashion industry, she won the Prestigious Designer of the Year Award at the Nigerian Fashion Show in 2001, in the following year (2002) she won St. Moritz Style Selection Award and Nigerian Women Awards, and the DAME Award recognized her for her outstanding achievement in fashion. Her list of awards goes on and on, some of the major awards/recognition she got includes the 2010 UN Peace Ambassador, 2010 Global Leadership Award, 2010 Young Achievers Award, 2010 Fashion and Style Award, 2010 Merit Award for African Heritage, 2009 Zenith Award for Excellence, and 2007 African Role Model Leadership Award.

(6) Amaka Osakwe

Amaka Osakwe is one of the flagbearers of Nigerian fashion. Unlike many others in the list who studied law and other majors, Amaka actually had a BA in fashion studies from the Arts University Bournemouth. In 2010, she launched her label ‘Maki Oh’, and her label’s designs have been worn by A-list celebrities like Beyoncé, Kerry Washington, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Solange Knowles, and many others.

During Michelle Obama’s summer 2013 trip to South Africa as the then-first lady, she wore Amaka Osakwe-designed Maki Oh blouse.

Amaka Osakwe has been featured and recognized by local and international media houses and awarding bodies. She was named ‘Designer of the Year’ by African fashion magazine ARISE. Since 2010, her work has been showcased at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Vitra Design Museum, and the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.

(7) Taiwo and Kehinde Okunoren (Okunoren Twins)

Taiwo and Kehinde; the duo which makes up The Okunoren Twins were born in 1983 in Lagos Nigeria, to Kunle and Abiola Okunoren. Their mother, Abiola was a fashion designer and drawing inspiration from her in addition to the demand for English dressing which was prevalent in the 80s, the twins entered the fashion industry at the young age of 19.

To eradicate the problem of ill-fitting badly tailored suits, the boys were inspired to make custom-made suits for their clients who wanted their clothes made to size, making them pioneer makers of bespoke suits for the average Nigerian at a time the Nigerian fashion industry was still at infancy.

They have since grown to become a force to reckon with in the Nigerian fashion industry and have worked with a lot of A-List celebrities and politicians and won prestigious awards for their brand.

(8) Mai Atafo

Mai Atafo

Mai Atafo is a Nigerian fashion designer who became famous after he launched his clothing label “Mai Atafo Inspired”.

In 2000, Mai Atafo returned back to Nigeria from the United Kingdom and occupied top positions in the corporate sector. In 2010, he resigned from Guinness Nigeria where he was a brand manager at the time and decided to go into fashion full-time and face his fashion label which he had already started.

The following year (2011), his fashion label launched a wedding line called “Weddings by Mai” and since then it has just been victory upon victory for Mai’s career.

(9) Toyin Lawani

Toyin Lawani

It is almost as if she speaks her designs into existence because of how creative & stylish they appear one would think it is impossible to make it or even recreate it after it has been invented.

Born into a rich family, Toyin had always had the entrepreneurial & fashion DNA in her as she owned a boutique, a mini-supermarket, and a spa while studying at the University of Lagos at the age of 16. She owns the enterprise Tiannah’s Place Empire which is named after her daughter and also owns a fashion academy TiannahStyling Fashion Academy in Nigeria.

Notable among the vast clientele base of the Toyin Lawani brand are some prominent personalities including Wizkid (She also styled the Wizkid & the girls in the album cover of Wizkid’s sophomore album ‘Ayo’), Don Jazzy, Mercy Johnson, Tiwa Savage, Waje, Funke Akindele, and the list goes on.

(10) Yomi Makun (Yomi Casual)

Yomi Casual

Omoniyi Makun who is popularly known as Yomi Casual is a Nigerian Fashion designer/tailor and is a brother to one of Nigeria’s biggest comedians, AY, who is also one of the ‘Top Ten Most Followed Nigerian Celebrities on Instagram’.

Yomi Casual is solely responsible for the styling of his brother ‘AY’ in every AY Live show which is one of the biggest comedy shows in Nigeria. He has since developed great relationship with other celebrities and his clothes have been worn by the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha, Timaya, Kcee, Bovi, Desmond Elliot, Alex Ekubo, Sammie Okposo, Alibaba, Majid Mitchell, Chioma Chukwuka, Chidi Mokeme, Ramsey Nouah Jnr, Seyi Law, Zack Orji, and many other A-list celebrities.

His works have brought him numerous awards from prestigious awarding bodies.



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