Rakuten Fashion week had a celebration of African Culture named Afromatic Tokyo that was co-hosted by Keiko Sydenham of Junction Partners (Tokyo) and Jerome Sydenham of Afromatic Festivals (Berlin), where they showcased African Fashion and Contemporary Art from Nigeria. A broad range of West African paintings was selected by the curator Grace Osime and the event had three fashion designers.
The first designer is Bubu Ogisi, the brand owner of IAMSINGO which mainly operates in Ghana and Nigeria. Her collection is called ‘Green Water, Blue Forrest’ made through an old weaving technique with organic plant fibres & up-cycled materials that showcase her ancestral heritage. Bubu’s Collection had blue wigs that are a reference to tropical beaches, plastic woven bags, and plastic shoes that are a dedication to the preservation of the ancestral textile technique of her heritage.
With the body being the ultimate canvas, we imagine the only way to save ourselves and the future is through synchronising the worlds of the synthetic and the natural.– Bubu Ogisi
The second designer is Olubiyi Thomas a designer who has previously worked at Alexander McQueen (London), Siki (New York), and De Rien( London) before launching his brand. The brand reflects his Nigerian and Scottish background and is based in London. Olubiyi Thomas’s collection is called ‘Phoenix Rising’ which takes a craftsman-style approach to designs that redefines historical interpretations of textiles from excavations of ancient textiles.
My initial inspiration came from the mythological creature/bird, which in many cultures represents or symbolises the idea of rebirth, transformation, reincarnation and resurrection.– Olubiyi Thomas
The last designer is Foday Dumbuya-Labrum London a designer originally from Freetown, Sierra Leona raised in London. His collection is called ‘Freedom of movement’ which is a mixture of West African style design and British tailoring, Foday seeks the integration of the two cultures in hopes that they can coexist with constant migration.
Derived from the idea of a borderless society, this collection seeks to celebrate different cultures under one roof, living side by side. Inspired by my heritage, the merging of these communities has always been a source of joy.– Labrum London
I think the first collection showcased was more referenced and informational than any other of the two designers. Bubu Ogisi showed that the Afromatic Tokyo S/S 2023 collection is inspired by African culture and tropical beaches. The frequently seen references to African Culture are the colourful wigs that also resonated with the colour of the tropical beaches. Some pieces were a reference to fishermen’s clothing but redesigned into a modern-day world. Some dresses are made to portray what seagrass would look like in dress form. I find it powerful that the usage of reference cannot be mistaken and that it pays homage to the African Culture without fail.