Exploring the untold stories of African creativity and it’s varied communities, AKIN ADEBOWALE and KOLADE ADEYEMO bursts at the seams and fills the gap of African representation by putting it on the map of global fashion through their brand OXOSI.
Riddle us this – what is a diverse and artistically wealthy country that is often borrowed, but curiously left unaccredited in the world of luxurious fashion? In an attempt to uncloak the obscurity, OXOSI founders Akin Adebowale and Kolade Adeyamo unthread the layers of African design to put African fashion on the continent with not only a curated collection from Daily Paper and Maki Oh, but also a triumphant pool of African creativity with their written threads on think pieces. “With the different cultures, different languages and different customs – to us, being African is easy, but there’s so much in Africa that you can learn. Our creative inspiration is spontaneous, but Africa is wide enough for us to continue to be dynamic,” Akin says.
“It’s one of the big reasons why OXOSI is here, we want to be able to tell that story from Africans, and it can be an authentic story that can actually mean something.”
Learning to weave culture in their blueprint, they found a similar ethic and aesthetic in each other that yearns to wear African patterns on their sleeve that reads loud, colorful and proud. “When you think Africa, it wasn’t something people were very excited about from a luxurious standpoint versus the way we think about Italy or Paris. So, fashion allowed us to represent people of color in a visually stimulating way, and I think fashion permits that, but the goal here is to build an iconic African brand that could stand side by side with any other brands from different regions, whether it’s Parisian, British, or Italian,” Kolade shares. Layered with what they call an afromodernist perspective, they push dimensions with sheer materials that celebrate African identity.
Tailoring clothes that aren’t just made to be a fashion statement, Akin and Kolade make sure each is sewn with an authentic tribute to their roots sheared to visually capture the shape of African communities, but also move forward beyond the world’s first impression of Africa that lasted too long. “One of the biggest thing for us is how creativity has been perceived on the continent,” Kolade says. “It just reinforces why Africans should tell their own stories, because no one understands our culture more than we do, and no one understands how to tell that culture. It’s one of the big reasons why OXOSI is here, we want to be able to tell that story from Africans, and it can be an authentic story so that it can actually mean something,” Akin adds.
“We wanted to reach everybody, so it was just expressing our creativity through African representation, and fashion just happened to be the most relevant and modern platform that is multi-faceted. It was art with a purpose.”
Dyeing local traditions in their textiles, Akin and Kolade stitch a journey through the nuances of Africans to nurture and support designers who take pride in their culture. “It wasn’t about pursuing fashion specifically, it was always just an interest in art and being a creative, and we just wanted to express that in the most relevant and relatable way possible. We wanted to reach everybody, so it was just expressing our creativity through African representation, and fashion just happened to be the most relevant and modern platform that is multi-faceted. It was art with a purpose.” With a mission to cross borders and break binaries, OXOSI is a pocketbook narrative waiting to be told all over the world.