2017 has been exceptional and remarkable for the Nigerian fashion industry so when GQ decides on a pilgrimage to Africa’s fashion capital, we would imagine it the perfect capstone for the year.
The GQ team went on a journey to explore the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s New Afrikan Shrine and used the opportunity to create a fashion story that features the young men and women who lurk around the shrine and whose lives are defined by the happenings in and around that space.
While the crux of the editorial is the interview with Femi Kuti where he dishes on the history of the shrine, transitioning from the old one to the new and the influence of the latter on the people who survive by it, the article is laced with various shots that do nothing for the conversation.
According to GQ Style’s fashion director, Mobolaji Dawodu, “The Shrine is a refuge for the youth in Lagos—it’s a place where you can come and be free, maybe get a job, have a community—and these are some of the young cats we met there. We cast and dressed everybody on the spot with traditional Nigerian clothes and then these designer coats. I just looked for interesting characters. There was something about each of them that struck me; I think it comes across in the photos. It’s a vibe. You feel it“.
The only thing we feel here is a needless juxtaposition of high priced designer coats and unassuming young Nigerians for a shoot that fails at telling a story we can relate to.
Each of the photos in the shoot are labelled with the models’ names, ages, the designers they’re wearing and in what we consider audacious, the prices. Of course, the models pull off the looks so well you’d think they had been in the business for years but we wonder what the GQ teamed aimed for with a “fashion story” that pays neither attention nor homage to the fashion revolution that is sweeping through Nigeria.
A $3,400 coat by Bottega Veneta here and a $2,500 coat by Issey Miyake men there, all worn over traditional ankara outfits made by an unnamed designer certainly makes us cringe. And it’s disturbing that GQ thought it wise to use these “young cats” for its own selfish gains.
Dear GQ, in case you need Nigerian designers who would help you tell an unforgettable fashion story next time, get some insight here.