If there is one thing that has stayed consistent in stylist and designer Ifeanyi Nwune’s many incarnations it is that Nwune has never been afraid to break out and start from scratch. He started Moda Giovani in 2012 with fellow stylist Goldie Iyamu, split from the label in late 2013 to start Ifeanyi Nwune, the brand under which he released his first two solo collections and a number of collaborations and now he is rebranding again, into I.N, his brand aesthetic changing wildly each time he decides he needs a fresh start.
As Nwune introduces I.N with this debut capsule collection called #BlackThrill (yeah, guys there really is a hashtag) one doesn’t need auguries to tell that Nwune is ready to trawl through some dark places to find his voice as Nigerian fashion’s enfant terrible. This is sometimes a gamble as different is not necessarily better and can soon careen all the way down to horrible.
Inspired by the ‘Artistic Prowess of Black’, the I.N collection is completely devoid of nuance and colour and is heavily influenced by urban street wear brands who primarily concern themselves with deconstruction like Vetements and Hood By Air. Nwune layers black over black, creating oversized shirts with draping for detail. He creates kaftans, neoprene quilted varsity jackets, tights and shorts, all with varying levels of success but doesn’t quite match the level of daring those brands attain to set them apart. It isn’t all so formulaic though, Nwune’s brilliance emerges with his ‘Censored’ glasses that riff off popular culture and in the hands of the right marketing team could become the next big thing.
Another thing that should be addressed is the artistic direction of the editorial for this collection. The images are so washed out and retouched that even the most basic detailing other than general silhouettes are indiscernible. Nwune directed the shoot, and this isn’t his first time at the rodeo, so he really should have known better. But the blame rests squarely on the photographer/retoucher who made an editorial that failed at it’s primary function, to offer us a proper view of the clothes we’re supposed to be moved to spend money to purchase solely from photographs.
It is possible to be dark and edgy and still be functional.
I promise, it is.