South Africa Menswear Week has become greatly enriched by its decision to throw open it’s door to menswear designers from the continent, particularly Nigeria. The Nigerian contingent of designers have since their first showcase, brought a distinct bent to the event, none as clearly as Adebayo Oke-Lawal’s Orange Culture. Known in Nigeria as the anti-hero of Nigerian menswear (a title several other designers have tried and failed to usurp), Orange Culture has constantly challenged what is possible, and permissible for Nigerian menswear. The label has experimented heavily with textures, silhouettes and concepts, sometimes veering into territories would consider ‘unmarketable’.
This season sees the label do something no one expected; it went back to high school.
“Everyone’s welcome. Outcasts: red hair, black nail polish, piercings… whatever you are, come to the school of outcasts and you’ll be welcome…” – Adebayo Oke-Lawal
Drawing from the long honoured tradition of high school rebellion, the new collection is the label’s most contemporary. Instead of the cultural prints, heavily influenced by Nigerian precolonial iconography and the sleek, fluid androgyny that we’ve come to associate with the label, we are offered punk hand salutes and extended middle fingers. This is more than an edgy print, it is a form of slang, a sort of 21st century sign language for the socially marginalized. The prints are done in a graphic, horror fic style, a definite amateurishness to it that rejects the sophistry of the label’s older collections.
Dip-dyed day shorts, blousy chiffon shirts and a loose orange jumpsuit are some highlights of the new collection, as is the pin pinstriped suit that looks like it was wrought from a girl’s collection and updated, the ultimate subversion of masculine and feminine tropes. The classic Orange Culture silhouettes make cameos this season too; palazzo pants, co-ords and the asymmetric wrap around shacket. But it is this season’s collaborations that truly sell the vibe. Tree fair fax provided clip on murses, Maxivive and Nigerian graphic artist Fred Aghuno worked on sandals and printed brogues, Nodrog st made bags and Rokus London provided jewellery that we will no doubt see around the necks of the early adopters in the coming months.
Orange Culture might have been for the metrosexual looking to stand out, but this season, it is for the reject looking to fit in.
Simon Deiner/SDR Photo.
Simon Deiner/SDR Photo.