For many decades, all the boutiques and retail stores in the country primarily sold imported clothes from fast fashion retailers and high fashion brands. They did this because they believed Nigerians only wanted imported clothing. But in the early 2000’s that changed.
New retailers came into the industry, stocking only brands that were made in Nigeria. Brands like Grey Velvet and L’Espace only sold indigenous brands. But before long, these retailers encountered a major problem. Many of the labels produced clothing that was so substandard, no one would buy it. And the rest copied the designs of the more successful labels, trying to replicate their success. When you have many copies of the same dress, it greatly hinders your ability to make a sale, and suggests to the buyer that what you’re selling can be gotten elsewhere for cheaper. So the retailers sold less, and incurred losses.
As a way to circumvent this problem, several Nigerian fashion retailers have elected to join the fray themselves and launch in house labels.
The first label to do this was Isoken Ogiemwonyi back when she and Wonuola Okoye were running L’espace. Her label Obsidian Way became the defacto in house label for their retail brands. Other retailers have embraced the model; Stranger Lagos has Sunless, Grey Velvet has Frankie and Co, and Fashpa under Honey Ogundeyi just previewed its own label. And now Ezinne Chinkata, super stylist and force behind eponymous retailer Zinkata, is joining the fray with her own label.
The Zinkata in house label replicates Ezinne’s love of quirky, far left style. Mixed prints are the most prominent takeaway from the collection and Ms Zinkata wholly embraces Ankara Prints, using them to startling effect.
This is the first collection we’ve seen where the a stylist puts the vast knowledge she has from that job into her design work. Ms. Zinkata doesn’t bother herself with fads or hops on the oversaturated and frankly tired off shoulder trend (thank you Nigerian designers for running that trend straight into the ground). What she does instead is pick five staples silhouettes and work around them, sticking to the philosophy of her label which is accessibility and retail value.
The Constance Skirt and Blouse, the Pinafore and Shirt, the Classic Skirt Suit, the Multi-functional Sundress, and the 80’s inspired full skirt and retro jacket are the styles Zinkata tackles, interpreting them brilliantly. This collection is so gorgeous it will be a touchstone for other labels for months to come.
Of course some people will make association with this collection and Italian designer Stella Jean’s work, but save for similar materials Zinkata’s collection is all her own, it has her unique brand of quirk and genius and we’re all for it.
The collection will officially be launched this sunday at the brand’s store in Dolphin Estate.
Photography & Creative Direction: Ambavi Longe @ambavilongephotography
Styling: Ezinne Chinkata
Models: Oiza, Ifeoma, Aduke, Titi and Angela for Beth Models Africa