The Folklore edits Nigerian designers
From androgynous looks at Orange Culture to modern Fruché pieces, Nigeria’s fashion community offers styles for every wardrobe. Amira Rasool, founder of The Folklore — a US-based boutique specializing in contemporary brands from Africa and the diaspora — shares the story of the platform she created to give a voice to these designers and the names she’s most excited about right now.
The Folklore concept
‘I created The Folklore in 2018 to provide a space for designers to tell their own stories. We want people to disassociate from the idea that the African design industry is monolithic; on the contrary, it’s extremely diverse. We also want people to recognize that this isn't a mass market — when you buy a piece from one of these brands, you might be one of three people in the world who owns that particular style — and most of these products are handmade.’
On African design
'I’d really like for people to understand how special the item they’re getting is because there’s a story; there’s an exclusive element to it. For so long, cities like Cape Town and Lagos have been ignored by the fashion community. What people are seeing now is fresh in their eyes, and that freshness gives the wearer an advantage. With these pieces on, they’re introducing something truly unique to whatever environment they enter.'
‘Out of all the labels, Fruché is the most emerging. I found the designer Frank Aghuno on social media when I discovered how in tune he was with what women want to wear, and how they want clothes to make them feel. Women who may not be daring [in their wardrobe] see his styles and, just because of the pure beauty of them, are more willing to take a risk. We previously sold out of the white Osagie shirt dress, so we brought it back for a new season in different colors. It’s a lightweight fabric, and even though there are a lot of bands [of fabric] going across it, it’s not distracting and you can still move in it. It’s great how he can do something casual like a slouchy blazer, a nice cocktail dress or even a sheer, bell-sleeve top for a Victorian-era vibe. He really has a woman in mind and I appreciate that.’
‘I was a fan of Adebayo Oke-Lawal way before I even thought of launching The Folklore. He’s very popular on social media due to him having been an LVMH prize finalist back in 2014. What I really like about Adebayo is that he tells a story with every collection; there’s a sense of purpose behind it. The collection we’re debuting on FARFETCH is called the Flower Boy collection, where he really leans into androgyny. He has designed products that are truly unisex and that I’ve actually seen both men and women wear. He’s not afraid to use textures we’re not used to seeing. I also like the embroidery he’s applied to some of the silk pieces. I’m really appreciative of how, over the years, I’ve seen how he’s grown and how the quality of the product has grown. I like that he’s found a balance between being super-creative and giving us art but making it wearable.’