Any observer of Nigerian menswear will tell you there is a growth cycle for many menswear designers. As most of our design talent is self taught, our menswear designers start of as private suit makers, creating suits for themselves and their friends. Then they grow into self styled ‘savile row’ bespoke tailors, quickly realizing that without the supporting retail framework, the pickings are slim for formal wear menswear designers and clients are picky towards new designers and loyal to the few they have already trusted. Then they finally diversify, shifting towards more adventurous design. Orange Culture was once known exclusive for it’s suits, same as T.I Nathan and even Kelechi Odu.
New label On and Tol’s clothing, helmed by Onamusi Tolulesan Adeoye, is a new entry into the Nigerian menswear scene and he seems to be following this unspoken cycle to the T.
His new collection, ‘Fraternity’ seems inspired by his friends/models and the carmaderie between client and designer. It features the standard fare we expect of Nigerian suit-maker designers; plaid coats, conventionally cut suits and jackets in colours you’d be hard pressed to single out in a swatch book. The designer has very good tailoring, I’d even dare say impressive tailoring. But that’s about the extent of innovation that this collection offers.
Adeoye doesn’t really push himself design wise, which is understandable if you’re a privately commissioned suit maker. A collection however should push the boundaries of what is possible in design, even if it is formal wear design. Instead of helping Adeoye create a niche for himself, the collection (especially it’s styling,) forces us to immediately draw parallels with older menswear brands that have come before him.
Hopefully his price points are more accessible to the market he is hoping to draw, because should On & Tol’s price points rival T.I Nathan or vintage Orange Culture, he will always lose out to them.