Inside Africa: How Unique Afrocentric Brand, Maki Oh Snagged Space in Michelle Obama's Closet.
The African industry is one that has been evolving quite significantly over the years, with the representation of fashion brands such as Loza Maleombho and Andrea Iyamah in fashion events and magazines. Most of these fashion brand owners employ the use of traditional techniques with unique fabrics and materials to create outstanding products, such as AAKS.
Another thing to note about the African fashion industry is how the brands make a conscious effort to be recognized internationally. Often, due to their impeccable designs, fashion brands such as Okhtein and Hanifa can boast of several celebrities rocking their pieces. Maki Oh is one of these fashion brands whose pieces have been worn by the former First Lady of America, Michelle Obama, Issa Rae, Lady Gaga and many others.
What then makes Maki Oh unique? And what techniques does the fashion brand employ to showcase the culture and heritage of Africa?
About Maki Oh
Maki Oh is a fashion brand that fuses traditional African techniques with detailed contemporary construction to cater mostly for womenswear. The brand is known for making an instant impact by evolving African textiles and traditional tailoring.
The brand was founded by Amaka Osakwe in 2010, and over the years, she has gathered several awards. She was one of the two African finalists at the very first LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers. She also has an enviable celebrity clientele including Solange, Lupita Nyong’o, the former First Lady of America, Michelle Obama who invited her to the White House and many more.
“A lot of what I’ve done has been a first for any Africa-based designer, so it feels great to be paving a new trail for the industry and for Africa.” - Amaka Osakwe
The brand’s vision extends beyond physical beauty to a textured, layered and three-dimensional aesthetic which embodies the philosophies of sustainability, preservation, strength and complex simplicity.
As a young fashion designer who relocated back to Lagos from the United Kingdom, her brand’s early years were supported majorly by family and friends. Her mother who is a fashionista owned a chain of costume-jewellery stores and designed children’s clothing.
With the funds she got from her family, Amaka Osakwe began purchasing sewing machines and searching for tailors to hire, which is a difficult task in Nigeria. She also sought out different experts, such as Nike Davies-Okundaye of Nike Art Gallery, tailors and craftsmen in to learn about the traditional techniques which are slowly vanishing.
Deola Sagoe is a contemporary and eponymous fashion brand that makes use of African hand-woven materials and almost-lost African techniques to create unique designs.
The fashion designer, Deola, is well known for her uncanny attention to detail, her expert handling of a diverse range of fabrics as well as her exemplary grasp of a wide range of female body types.
Duro Olowu is an eponymous fashion label owned by Duro Olowu, and they are popularly known for their designs which are described as colourful, vibrant and coupled with ‘70s classic tailoring.
The brand also makes use of traditional fabrics, techniques and with their designs, they showcase a clear representation of the finesse and class a modern woman should portray even in traditionally-inspired outfits. For their recently released SS20 collection, they made use of a range of fabrics like aso-oke, silk, linen and many more.
Through most of her designs, Amaka Osakwe aims to preserve and export the Nigerian culture by employing local fabrics and techniques to create designs with remarkable stories. The outfits in the brand are bold, elegant and beautifully tailored while retaining a high aesthetic appeal.
Different pieces in the fashion brand are priced according to their designs, material used, cost of production and all other factors that go into the pricing of a product. They typically range from 300 USD to 500 USD for ready-to-wear pieces.
Maki Oh’s designs are a liaison between modern contemporary fashion trends and traditional African vibe so they can be worn comfortably by different people in the social strata. The pieces can be worn to formal and informal occasions while retaining a chic and classy vibe. The sophistication and splash of the rural-urban mix in the outfits also make them almost irresistible for clients, both at home and abroad.
The Maki Oh brand is one that has, over the years, established a great connection with African designs, techniques and materials to create outstanding pieces.