Nigerian design Label J Reason has sort of hung of the fringes of established fashion, its creative director Oladeji Adedeji making far more impact as a model. With a portfolio that spans work as head stylist for the Africa Fashion Week Nigeria showcase and commission for the Lagos Fashion and Design Week, he understands the pulse of Nigerian fashion and what will fly in the real world and what won’t. He also seems to lean too heavily into this knowledge when he stops being a stylist and designs.
Drawing inspiration from a recent trip to East Africa (Tanzania to be specific) the designer encountered firsthand the extremely popular and grossly misunderstood the nomadic Maasai people. He doesn’t state specifically how much contact he had with them, but we do what he specifically drew his inspirations from.
“The style of clothing is inspired by Matavuvale, but its colours stick to the JReason code of simplicity.”
The Matavuvale which refers to a caste system that uses dress to differentiate between genders and important stages of life of Maasai people is an oddly specific ritual steeped dress culture, and it was intelligent of Adedeji to have steered away from trying to replicate the exact specifics of Matavuvale and in the process appropriate their culture. However the collection he offers instead with ‘colours sticking to the JReason code of simplicity’ is well made if a little simplistic and has nothing at all to do with the Maasai people.
The collection was a capsule of six looks, so it should have been easy for the ethos behind Matavuvale and the Maasai themselves to be captured in the collection, perhaps their adherence to traditional ways, their gender equity and or their embrace of what others would interpret as ‘vanity’. What we get instead are a few jersey tunics and sleeveless shirts.
The question is, with all the new talent pouring into the industry, can older labels like J.Reason expect to survive on capsule collections and misdirection?
Creative Direction: Oladeji Adedeji @jidereason
Model: Tunji Hamzat instagram.com/oga_tunji for Fowler Models @fowlermodels
Make-up artist: Zaron Cosmetics @zaroncosmetics