15 Top Fashion Designers in Nigeria

Fashion Designers In Nigeria

Nigeria’s fashion design industry is one of the most elaborate in Africa, thanks to the country’s unique crop of insanely talented fashion designers pioneering global brands and changing Africa’s fashion landscape.

These fashion designers in Nigeria did not attain their popularity by accident. They arrived by combining their skills with hard work, determination, and an excellent strategy that puts them ahead of the competition. If you’re a budding fashion designer, observing and learning from their ascent to the top can help you build your successful fashion brand.

However, learning from them is the easy part; the difficult part is determining who the most talented fashion designers in Nigeria are, to begin with, and that’s what we’ll do in this article. Below is our list of the 15 top fashion designers in Nigeria, their brand names, and their stories.

15 Top Fashion Designers in Nigeria (and Their Brand Names)

Here are the top fashion designers in Nigeria, in no particular order.

1. Deola Sagoe (The House of Deola)

The House of Deola is one of the most recognizable fashion brands in Nigeria, founded by one of the country’s top fashion designers, Adeola ‘Adeo-Ojo’ Sagoe. Deola Sagoe started her fashion design career back in 1988, quickly developing a following among fashion enthusiasts for her colorful and lively outfit designs.

Her designs brought her international recognition, as she was the first black woman to present a design collection at Alta Roma. She also won the MNET Anglo Gold African Design Award in 2000, giving her the required boost to present a collection of authentic African-infused clothing at the Alta Roma fashion week.

An hour of client consultation with Deola Sagoe costs N80,000, which is non-deductible from the client’s final bill, further proving her appeal in the industry. She was responsible for costume production for actors in the movie ‘October 1’ and even made a brief cameo, earning her the AMVCA Best Costume Designer in the process.

2. Ohimai Atafo (ATAFO)

Ohimai Atafo, better known professionally as Mai Atafo is the designer behind the ATAFO brand, which has grown to become a highly regarded brand in the Nigerian fashion space. Mai Atafo trained at the Saville Row Academy and came back to Nigeria as a refined professional.

The ATAFO fashion brand is behind the ‘Weddings by Mai’ line which is essentially a collection of adorable wedding outfits. It’s also the parent brand of Mai Atafo Inspired, which is the most recognizable brand in Mai’s collection.

Mai Atafo dabbled briefly in editing fashion editorials, but he quickly had to go back to what he loved: making outfits. With his resume and clout, it’s not overreaching to describe Mai Atafo as one of the top fashion designers in Nigeria.

3. Ngozi ‘Zizi’ Cardow (Zizi Cardow)

Zizi Cardow is one of the longest-reigning icons in the Nigerian fashion industry, founding her eponymous fashion label back in 2000. Despite not being widely credited for it, Zizi Cardow certainly played a huge role in promoting and marketing the Ankara wax fabric to the global community.

Strangely, she struggled to break through the Nigerian fashion space, according to an interview she had with the New Telegraph. Her struggles in Nigeria led her to explore international options, eventually leading to the big breakthrough she had always longed for. These days, it feels natural to list Zizi among the best fashion designers in Nigeria.

Fashion Designers In Nigeria

4. Lisa Folawiyo (Jewel by Lisa)

Lisa Folawiyo is also one of the most popular fashion designers in Nigeria without a formal fashion design background. After obtaining her law degree from the University of Lagos, Lisa bought 12 yards of fabric for N20,000 and started making innovative clothing pieces from home with her mum. Little did she know her little venture would eventually become an international brand.

The N20,000 tailoring business quickly gained widespread acceptance due to her innovative combination of West African fabrics (e.g. Ankara) with innovative fashion techniques. With her Africa Fashion Award (2012) win and a feature on Vogue Italia and BoF 500, Lisa Folawiyo is undoubtedly one of the top fashion designers in Nigeria.

5. Duro Olowu (Duro Olowu)

Duro Olowu is a British-Nigerian fashion designer born in Lagos to a Nigerian father and a Jamaican mother. His mixed origin exposed him to different cultures and accepted fashion standards from a young age, causing him to naturally start designing outfits.

He wasn’t always one of the best fashion designers in Nigeria; in fact, his first degree was in law from the University of Kent. However, the incredible success of his eponymous fashion brand easily won him over from law to fashion design, giving him the freedom to do what he’s best at doing.

6. Ituen Bassey (Ituen Basi)

Ituen Bassey is a Nigerian costume designer famous for using our local Ankara wax print fabric to create contemporary outfit designs that appeal to fashion enthusiasts in Nigeria and beyond. The fashion design veteran obtained her graduate degree in Theater Arts at the Obafemi Awolowo University before attending the London School of Fashion to study fashion design.

In 2006, Ituen Bassey created her fashion label named ‘Ituen Bassi,’ a brand that shot her into popularity in the years that followed. Among her numerous awards are the Designer of the Year Award at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa and The Most Innovative Designer award in 2009.

7. Folake Akindele-Coker (Tiffany Amber)

The Tiffany Amber brand may have outgrown Folake Coker in popularity, but it’s always essential to recognize the brain behind such a ubiquitous fashion label. Despite not having any known formal fashion education, she became the first African-based designer to stage a second show at the New York Fashion Week.

Folake Coker was also the inaugural ‘Designer of the Year’ award recipient at the Africa Fashion Week in Johannesburg, attesting to her status as one of the best fashion designers in Nigeria and Africa in general.

8. Soares Anthony (Soares Anthony)

Soares Anthony’s eponymous clothing line earned him widespread praise and patronage among fashion enthusiasts in Nigeria and beyond, thanks to his unique design style and unmatchable attention to detail.

Soares Anthony’s designs derive their uniqueness from the blend of West African fabrics with Japanese tailoring styles, effectively creating wearable art. No doubt, his skills firmly place him among the best male fashion designers in Nigeria.

9. Lola Faturoti (Lola Faturoti Loves)

Lola Faturoti was born into a relatively well-to-do family in Ondo State, and she developed an interest in fashion design by watching her grandmother make outfits for the women in her hometown. She formally left Nigeria for London to attend fashion school and later moved to New York in the 90s.

Soon after, she launched her fashion brand, Lola Faturoti Loves, a move that quickly catapulted her to the top of the Nigerian fashion industry. With her clothing designs selling like hotcakes in Nigeria and foreign countries alike, Lola has undoubtedly grown to be one of the top fashion designers in Nigeria.

10. Lanre Da Silva Ajayi (Lanre Da Silva Ajayi)

While Lanre da Silva’s ascent to the top of the Nigerian fashion industry is no mean feat, her positioning as a luxury brand is an even bigger feat, earning her a place among any list of the top fashion designers in Nigeria.

Lanre da Silva describes the outfits in her collection as ‘wearable art,’ a sentiment echoed by many of the fashion magazines reporting about her. Her creative incorporation of native African prints in her outfits earned her critical acclaim in Nigeria and beyond, cementing her place among the best fashion designers in Nigeria.

11. Amaka Osakwe (Maki Oh)

If you’ve heard of the Maki Oh fashion label, you’ve already experienced one of the reasons Amaka Osakwe is one of the top fashion designers in Nigeria. The New Yorker describes her as West Africa’s most daring designer, thanks to the seductive and subversive nature of her designs, as it’s where she finds ‘beauty.’

Her formal fashion career started with her BA degree in Fashion Studies at the Arts University Bournemouth, and she launched her Maki Oh brand soon after graduating. Amaka Osakwe has designed outfits for some of the world’s most outstanding women, including Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna.

Popular African fashion magazine ARISE awarded her ‘Designer of the Year,’ and she’s one of the few fashion designers in Nigeria to have presented at the New York Fashion Week.

12. Yemi Osunkoya (Kosiba Creations)

Yemi Osunkoya is one of the top veterans in the Nigerian fashion industry, with a career dating back to the late 80s. His first degree was in Fine Arts and Textile Design at Obafemi Awolowo University, and he obtained a diploma in fashion Paris Academy School of Fashion (London).

Shortly after obtaining his diploma, Yemi Osunkoya launched Kosibah Creations, his fashion brand that quickly became a global sensation. With the City People Magazine listing him among the Top 10 Bridal Designers in Nigeria, Yemi Osunkoya’s place among the best fashion designers is not in doubt.

13. Toyin Lawani (Tiannah Styling)

Toyin Lawani is a relatively controversial Nigerian public figure who also claims to be a self-taught fashion stylist. Her fashion label features many unconventional designs by Nigerian standards, but the uniqueness also forms the brand’s primary appeal to fans.

Toyin Lawani showcased her fashion collection at the African Fashion Week London in 2013, starting her ascent to stardom in the Nigerian fashion industry. In addition to being one of the best fashion designers in Nigeria, Toyin Lawani is also an actress, author, philanthropist, and entrepreneur.

14. Mimi Linda Yina (Medlin Couture)

Mimi Linda Yina, also known as MedlinBoss, is a fashion designer and consultant famous for creating the popular Nigerian fashion label, Medlin Couture. MedlinBoss started her fashion career as a Sociology student at the University of Port Harcourt, where she offered fashion consulting and shopping services before delving fully into styling and design.

Her clientele reportedly includes Nollywood actresses, politicians, fashionistas, and models nationwide. Motivated by her increasingly growing brand, MedlinBoss aims to go global with her business in the next few years.

15. Omoniyi Makun (Yomi Casual)

Omoniyi Makun isn’t quite as popular as his brand, Yomi Casual, famous for stirring up reactions from netizens for controversial design choices. A recent case involved the designer putting a partially burned shirt up for sale for $8,900.

Interestingly, Omoniyi Makun only became a fashion designer by accident; he always intended to study Fine and Applied Art, but her sister inadvertently chose fashion design while filling up his application form. Little did she and Omoniyi Makun know he was eventually going to become one of the most sought-after fashion designers in Nigeria because of that ‘mistake.’

Conclusion

There’s an abundance of talented fashion designers in Nigeria, but among the talented, you’ll find some that are truly outstanding. If you want an outfit designed by one of the finest Nigerian fashion designers, you should consider going with one of the designers on this list.

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