In international fashion, it is not uncommon for a designer to define itself by the aesthetic of the women of its city or country. Designers like Diane Von Faustenberg and Donna Karan have consistently designed for the New York woman, Chanel is an avatar of Parisien Chic and Dolce and Gabbana are the very soul of Italy distilled into a dress. So when emerging women’swear label O’tra labelled its new collection ‘ Eko Woman’, it inadvertently pit itself against a well established aesthetic. The design label describes it’s iteration of the Eko Woman as such.
Usually, the name Eko is known for its fashion, tradition and civilization. We are translating all these into the New Collection “Eko Woman” to reflect and meet the needs of our ladies daily life style, from 9AM – 5PM office outfits to casual meetings, hanging out with friends and weekend parties.
A Lagos woman is elegant, hardworking yet attractive…she is strong, look attractive despite all hurdles. She has everything put in order. This is the same way an O’tra Women is sexy, elegant, a goal getter, the type that cares so much about her look and feels comfortable with what she wears and carries herself well.
The collection they have created is quite the muted affair, crafted primarily from shades of brown and maroon and lilac, populated with jumpsuits opaque and sheer, crop tops, the odd column dress with a tulle bridal train and a difficult to comprehend dress with flared midi-length sleeves. Save for a spaghetti strap body con dress, its skirt jazzed up with an asymmetric awning hemline, the clothes are yet another replication of styles we have seen over and over. This is forgivable, what isn’t is that the label didn’t even take anytime to actually study the aesthetic that was supposed to inspire the collection.
The Eko woman is defined by her love of colour and prints, she is defined by her love for functional fashion (our iro and buba while super stylish is very functional.) She is defined by her extravagance usually embodied by a towering gele or statement bag or a fist full of jewellery. Designers like Ituen Basi and Lanre Da Silva and Ejiro Amos Tafiri have done far more nuanced homages to the Eko woman. It would do O’tra a world of good to go through their archives and learn a thing or two.
We’d have loved at least one Oleku dress, or 21st century iteration of a Dashiki or even actual prints. Anything, really.
We don’t know the woman O’tra wants to dress with this collection, but it most definitely is not the Eko woman.