As a Nigerian menswear designer, you are availed with three options.
You can either choose to design for the aesthetically adventurous man tackling abstract concepts like androgyny and deconstruction, you can choose to go the bespoke tailor route, offering classic suit and tuxedo silhouettes in a swath of unconventional colours, or you can choose to go the traditional route, updating traditional formal wear like kaftans and agbadas, with better tailoring and more streamlined silhouettes.
Nigerian menswear label Rois and Reine (the term loosely translates from French to ‘Kings and queen) falls squarely in that third broad category; and it’s Spring 2016 collection best captures this.
This season the label tackles the classic mens kaftan and the borrowed Safari suit. The label doesn’t strain any muscles testing the possibilities of this classic silhouette. Instead it subsists by offering us good tailoring and colour variety. The people behind Rois and Rene have a good eye for prints and many of the prints they choose help to elevate their sub-par designs.
With actor Blossom Chukwujekwu fronting the label’s editorial campaign, the collection will gain traction with its intended audience and with its somewhat safe designs, is very marketable.
But sans the label’s interesting fabric choices (the main thing that keeps the collection somewhat interesting,) the clothes are only higher end replicas of decades old silhouettes.
There simply isn’t enough design work put into the collection to make getting a replica made at your regular tailor a challenge. And if what we see in the fashion rags that peddle the latest traditional wear designs on the streets of Idumota are anything to go by, Rois and Reine’s collection is already hanging in some tailor’s display cabinet.