Here's How Gender-Fluid Brand, Kenneth Ize, Employs Traditional Techniques And Materials To Create Stunning Designs
As a fashion entrepreneur, one thing that can make your brand grow locally, as well as internationally, is taking note of what other fashion brands are incorporating into their brands to make it global. We have previously looked at how AAKS, Loza Maleombho, and many other brands that have infused unique identities in their brands to make them stand out from others.
Kenneth Ize, a Nigerian brand that uses traditionally sourced materials, is one that has progressed nicely over the years in the global fashion scene. The brand caught the world’s attention at the Lagos Fashion Week a while ago when Naomi Campbell, a popular English model, featured as one of his models on the runway.
What makes the Kenneth Ize brand stand out? And what strategies have been employed in the brand to make them relevant?
About Kenneth Ize
Kenneth Ize is a unisex Nigerian fashion brand that is devoted to the long-established traditions of Nigerian craft and local artisanship, merging a new design aesthetic with a specifically local handcraft practice. The brand is owned by Nigerian-Austrian designer, Kenneth Ize, who is passionate about craftsmanship, tailoring, and African textile.
“We are reviving, reinterpreting, and giving new context to African techniques that have given meaning to the West African identity.” - Kenneth Ize
Kenneth Ize, the designer, has acquired many accolades including being the first Nigerian to be the first runner up of the LVMH Prize For Young Designers in which Thebe Magugu was crowned winner. He was also the first black designer to partner with the Karl Lagerfield brand to deliver a unique collection, although the images of the designs are yet to be released.
The fashion brand is known for using locally weaved aso-oke and akwete fabrics in designs that reference the designer's upbringing between Africa and Europe. The fashion brand is all about creating pieces that allow people to express their freedom, culture, and heritage.
“My style is about asking questions and listening to people’s stories. It’s about my friends, our travels together, challenging myself and being open.” - Kenneth Ize
With their gender-neutral silhouettes and vibrant prints, the brand creates pieces such as free-flowing silk tunics, tailored two-piece suits, swingy skirts, and many more that feel both contemporary and rooted in traditional garments.
The brand owner, Kenneth Ize, has a studio located in the Yaba area of Lagos state where he has a team that functions as a hub for the wide-ranging community of Nigerian artisans he works with. To design the unique outfits the brand offers, Kenneth Ize and his team source for yarn from Lagos, Ilorin or Europe after which they are woven using handlooms and Yoruba-inspired weaving techniques.
“I am not just making these clothes for myself, I am making them for every African person. I want people to go Google Nigeria, Lagos because they have seen the clothes and it makes them so fascinated.” - Kenneth Ize
Through the organic nature of the brand's processes and the communal nature of the team, they are able to create gender-fluid pieces that appeal to both men and women.
Duro Olowu is an eponymous fashion label owned by Duro Olowu. The brand is popularly known for their designs which are described as colourful, vibrant, and coupled with ‘70s classic tailoring. Outfits in the brand have been worn by Michelle Obama, Uma Thurman, Linda Evangelista, and many more, and this has helped the brand gain global recognition.
The fashion brand also makes use of traditionally sourced materials such as aso-oke for their designs. Their recently released collection, was designed using these fabrics and the designer was able to deliver the traditional African message with a modern take.
Maki Oh is also a Nigerian fashion brand that fuses African techniques with detailed contemporary construction to cater mostly for women. The brand which is owned by Amaka Osakwe aims to deliver, through their designs, a textured, layered, and three-dimensional aesthetic which embodies the philosophies of sustainability, strength, and many more.
Maki Oh uses Adire and a range of other materials to serve as a liaison between modern contemporary fashion trends and a traditional African vibe.
Deola Sagoe is an eponymous fashion brand which was founded by Nigerian fashion designer, Deola Sagoe, a designer that is well-known for her uncanny attention to detail.
AW19/20 Collection Title: ASO ODUN It is that time every year that makes itself heard in the anticipation of those who can forget themselves, those who have ghosts of people and ghosts of places buzzing inside their heads. Those faces of gentle creatures, faces which don’t know how to tell stories and yet shimmer with the smooth skin of every word of every untold story and every story that gets told over and over again on such occasions. Those who are part of that swaying crowd, a crowd in trance arm in arm between a barrage of stores, clothing racks, hidden presents, hidden preparations, hidden suspense and hidden expectations. Their voices, this expression and that demand, their love and melancholy, their joy and their same ability to forget, to give themselves over to disco lights, neon lights, gentle candle lights or the rich stories of past, present and made up lives lit up on the tv screen or under the silver screen projection light, even those surprises revealed by an automated closet light Those whose anticipation grows the same every year, and every time the same time. those who are marvellous in their particular ways of embracing the ordinary who know that what makes the ordinary is its particular way of being marvellous to those particular moments Model: @bashirm__ Agency @castingbuerowien Thank you @mila_5rova ♥️ Visit our showroom 37 Boulevard du Temple Apt 115 75003 Paris
The fashion brand is best-known for their exquisite men’s tailoring, although, now they have continued to deliver distinctly feminine and exquisite designs. The fashion designer, Kenneth Ize, tends to work best in an androgynous zone, however, and his strongest moments are shaped by a workwear influence.
Apart from the fact that the Kenneth Ize brand is one that creates gender fluid outfits, they also take into consideration the traditional methods of weaving and creating outfits, and this indeed makes them unique.