first Time New York Fashion Week Attendee; Orange Culture’s Adebayo Oke-Lawal Brings His Vision of Nigeria to the City of New York

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A few days ahead of his first-ever New York Fashion Week show, Orange Culture’s Adebayo Oke-Lawal walks into the lobby of the Moxy Times Square hotel. He’s wearing a dangling earring in one lobe, a hoodie, and a cross-body micro-size Jacquemus bag. His brand consultant and advisor, New York–based Derin Masha, smiles and says, “He’s so extra.” Oke-Lawal, deeply humble and big-hearted by nature, lets out a laugh and adds: “I know.”

Oke-Lawal founded Orange Culture in 2011, and the self-taught Lagos-based designer has pushed his brand forward to become one of Nigerian fashion’s biggest names. The charismatic, polychrome spirit of Oke-Lawal’s collections has seen him categorized as a menswear designer, despite him championing wardrobe androgyny and a de-codified representation of masculinity. The approach has been an uphill battle, he explains—there were even death threats in the early years.

“We had, and still have, some problems. The way society is in Lagos…we’re used to very specific ways of seeing things. Gender is an exact way of thinking back home and has been for a very long time. Things have been written in the press that say Orange Culture is ‘feminizing our men’ and that we’re going to hell because of it. Now it’s just, like, I don’t care, you can write it. I’ve been doing this for years, and it is working, and it is still growing. If you have a problem with a man wearing jewelry or an oversize blouse or painting his nails, that’s your problem. It’s not Orange Culture’s!”

September 12, 2019

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