Fashion designer reinvents ancient technique
When European explorers discovered the Yoruba kingdoms in West Africa in the fifteenth century, they found a civilization already established over 500 years earlier.
The culture spread across the world, partly as a result of the slave trade, with its vibrant artistic traditions, albeit fading, still felt as far as Cuba, Haiti and Brazil.
Now, designers are reinventing ancient Yoruba crafts for their modern creations.
“Every piece of an Ethnik product is art,” says founder and creative director Tunde Owolabi, who set up the company in Lagos in 2015.
“This year has been a stepping stone for us, because we’ve been able to establish Ethnik as a strong brand.”
Owolabi, also a photographer, got the idea when photographing events celebrating this culture.
Connecting with the past through fashion
Packed with vivid, blue, yellow and red patterns, Ethnik’s sneakers, bags and smartphone cases are a way for their customers to connect with their heritage through fashion, Owolabi says.
“We are creating a movement of people who want to identify themselves with where they are from.”
What is Aso Oke?
The hand woven wool fabrics are made on foot pedaled looms.
But launching a fashion brand does not come without obstacles, Owolabi explains.
“Since Ethnik started we’ve been faced with a lot of challenges: people, materials, logistics.”
They have seen global interest but shipping products can be expensive.
“The most pressing one is the logistics right now, being able to distribute around the world,” he adds.