In my time as an editor and critic, I’ve slowly acquired a sort of battle fatigue towards emerging menswear labels from Nigeria and across the continent, especially when they brandish the appellation ‘Bespoke’ as a talisman of sorts against proper scrutiny. When all the emerging labels look exactly the same, it wears down on your faith in the industry and the possibility our menswear industry ever seriously competing with our women’s wear. This is why emerging labels like Raphael Granville’s YouthQuake by Fana interests me.
The label recently released it’s debut collection, unthemed and uncluttered by repetition. A small, concise capsule without any rhetoric or preamble (Nigerian designers are notorious for their word salad press releases) allowing the consumer decide what they collection is trying to achieve. But one things is obvious from the get-go, Granville is obsessed with Asian contemporary culture, especially if it comes form Japan. Japanese iconography is what ties the collection (that crosses the spectrum from street ready ironic t-shirts and short shorts to grand jackets and hawaiian style shirts) together. Kanji script is splayed on everything; shirts, jackets, trousers and shorts, and even when it is, Granville goes all out, with prints of classic Japanese paintings depicting geisha and samurai and the classic Kabuki theatre.
However the designer’s inexperience shows through in the fits of his more ambitious clothing, much of it will only work on a specific body type and will not appeal to broad demographics. Plus there are construction blunders which show the designer still has some self improvement to do, before the label’s ideas match the finished product.
It is a decent debut, full of promise and YouthQuake understands the zeitgeist of it’s generation and seeks to provide them the right uniform.
I shall be watching Granville’s career very closely.