Next week, Nigerian designer Taofeek Abijako will debut Head of State+’s SS18 offering at New York Fashion Week Men’s making it his second time presenting at the even despite being a mere 19 years old. Taofeek’s career took off right out of school and we chronicle his short but impactful career.
The collection entitled “Brotherhood” is inspired by West African creativity and culture. The elegantly utilitarian range is shaped by Malick Sidibé and Sory Sanlé, photographers who chronicled the youth of Maliand Burkina Faso throughout the 1960s.
Taofeek was born in Lagos, Nigeria and lived there until he joined his Father, also a designer, in Albany at the age of six. It was his very first time in America, “It was extreme culture shock. Back in Nigeria, seven of us lived in one room. At night, when everyone wanted to go to bed, we lifted the table and laid a mat on the floor where we all slept. Imagine going from that to having your own bedroom, 24/7 electricity, and water. It made me appreciate things more.”
In his bedroom, Taofeek’s career in fashion began. He raised funds for his projects by hand painting sneakers and selling them online. His sneakers grew in popularity when actress and musician Amandla Stenberg posted a pair of Taofeek’s custom Vans on Instagram.
Scrolling through old black and white snaps and talking about his favourite portrait featuring a well-dressed teenager in tailored trousers and white socks, Taofeek says, “I’m inspired by the sense of confidence. You’d think he owns the world. In West Africa, regardless of financial difficulties and complicated social life, there’s a sense of joy in everything. You wake up in the morning fully ready to conquer the day. This image captures that feeling.”
By Karah Adu