Showcasing Aso-Oke will help project Yoruba culture - Ronke Ademiluyi

Date: 2020-09-20

Fashion enthusiast and the founder of the African Fashion Week, Ronke Ademiluyi, tells TOFARATI IGE about her love for Aso-Oke, African fashion and other issues

Why did you decide to start the African Fashion Week?

My heritage is cross-continental. I grew up in London (United Kingdom) and Lagos (Nigeria), so this allowed me to develop an interest in both traditional and western fashion. Growing up in London in the nineties, I was able to identify the lack of inclusion of black and African designers in the UK’s mainstream fashion industry. So, AFW was borne out of a moral obligation and an urgent need for a platform that showcased black and African designers, and promoted African culture and business opportunities. African designers have benefited immensely from the platform and most importantly, I educate the public about the importance of sustaining and preserving our heritage through fashion.

What have been your major achievements with AFW?

I am grateful for being able to sustain the platform for 10 years against all odds, working with over 1000 African brands. The launch of our fashion future education programme in June, in collaboration with the Parson School of Design New York and Henleys Business School (UK), and the start of our mentorship programme with black fashion students in the UK are also things I’m excited about. The mentorship programme will help in identifying the social and economic barriers that prevent young black creatives from becoming leading designers in the UK fashion industry.

When did you have a breakthrough in your career?

I actually studied Law, so fashion is not my background. My parents didn’t see it as a lucrative profession for me to study back then, so my breakthrough would be when I opened my first fashion retail store in 2001 in Ikeja, Lagos.

Also, I started a sister event in Nigeria― the Africa Fashion Week Nigeria in 2014. It is a platform that supports up-and-coming Nigerian designers.

What are the other highlights of your career?

One of them was when I hosted the first Africa Fashion Week London against all the odds. Almost everyone I approached about the idea said it was not a good concept, but I stuck with my gut feeling and spent my life savings to organise the event in August 2011. And over the past 10 years, we have showcased over 1000 African fashion brands in London, which is one of the fashion capitals of the world. Right now, we are at the forefront of promoting black excellence in the United Kingdom and globally.

What improvements would you like to see in the African fashion space?

I would like to see global inclusion and not just appropriation of African designs by western designers. Due to the popularity of African fashion, luxury fashion brands started incorporating African themes in their designs. I would like to see collaborations between some of these luxury brands and African designers.

What stirred your interest in Aso-Oke?

I admire the way the First Lady of Kwara State, Dr Olufolake AbdulRazak, constantly wears and promotes Aso-Oke, also known as Aso-Ofi. During her speaking engagement at the AFWL in 2019, she shed light on the weaving industry in Kwara State and the weavers behind the industry. She also brought the weavers to showcase their designs at the Africa Fashion Week Nigeria in December 2019. Prior to that, I didn’t know the state had an Aso-Ofi industry, so she has opened this to a global audience and is at the forefront of showcasing the state’s weaving industry.

What do you aim to achieve with your renewed interest in Aso-Oke?

The AFWL is not only a showcasing platform but also an educational one. We are currently working with international universities and institutions such as the Parsons School of Design New York (United States of America), Henleys Business School (United Kingdom), The London College of Fashion (UK), The North Hampton University (UK), and we are in the process of developing a historical discourse surrounding the African art of weaving. Also, the First Lady in collaboration with AFW, is in the process of creating educational contents on Kwara State’s Aso-Ofi.

In addition, we have just finished the filming of a fashion documentary that showcases the weaving industry in the state, which highlights the weavers, the weaving process, the designs, some of the communities that have engaged in this artisanship for centuries, and how is has been passed down from the older generations to the new generations. It also showcases female weavers and my organisation will show this to a global audience during the Global Sustainable Fashion Week in New York (US) and this in turn will promote Nigerian culture to the world.

A lot of young people don’t seem to be interested in Aso-Oke. What do you have to say to such people?

The situation is different in Kwara State as many young and educated people are into the weaving business. They work with sophisticated equipment and are doing a lot of great works.

Showcasing the Aso-Ofi will further empower and develop communities and encourage the revival of the dying art of weaving across Nigeria.

In what ways do you think Aso-Oke can further project Nigerian, particularly Yoruba culture?

As a princess from the Yoruba tribe, I understand the importance of sustaining our culture and heritage through fashion. At AFW, we highlight the importance of using fashion to preserve our heritage, so I ensure that we encourage our designers to showcase their heritage through their designs, as it allows them to promote their different cultures on the runway and tell stories of its origin, relevance and importance. Showcasing the Aso-Ofi during the Global Sustainable Fashion Week New York will certainly project the Yoruba culture to the world.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy researching and writing history. I am also the global ambassador to the Queen Moremi Initiative of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi. In Africa, storytelling is part of our culture, so it is important that we continue to tell our stories, but in a way that attracts the millennial generation. Meanwhile, I will be starting the first series of my cultural conversations with the Black Fashion World Foundation. The conversations will be based around how our clothes are more than just fashion statements, viz their meanings, historical symbols and spiritual significance.



Cloud Tag: What's trending

Click on a word/phrase to read more about it.

Ayeni     Maigida     IDPU     Popo-Igbonna     Kale Belgore     Abubakar Baba Sulaiman     Isiaka Oniwa     Moses Salami     Tunde Akanbi     Sa\'adu Gambari     Muhammadu Buhari     Bilikis Oladimeji     Fatimoh Lawal     Reuben Paraje     Akanbi-Oke     Dar-Al-Handasah Consultants Ltd     Aminat Omodara     Playing Host     Ministry Of Women Affairs And Social Development     Yekeen Alabi     Suleiman Abubakar     Funmilayo Zubair     Ahmad Olayiwola Kamaldeen     Saliu Alamoyo     Makama     Quareeb Islamic Association     Share-Tsaragi     Forgo Battery Company Limited     Bureau Of Lands     Guber Aspirant     Ahmed Saidu Rufai     Bashirat Bola Bello     Abdulwahab Ololele     Jaigbade Alao     Kwara Metro Park     Saadu Gbogbo Iwe     Akorede     Oja-Oba     Elerinjare     Gafaru Olayiwola Olorisade     Senate     Mustapha Akanbi     Adeleke Ogungbe     Adebayo Salami     Elelu     Mohammed Yahaya Barki     National Pilot     Ayodele Olaosebikan     Bamikole Omishore     Bello Taoheed Abubakar     Sulyman Abdulkareem     Ajuloopin     Kwasu     Kwara Polytechnic     Sanusi Abubakar     Minister     Alikinla     Abdulrazaq Akorede     Eleja     Monsurat Omotosho     Unilorin     Aisha Gobir     Dauda Adesola     Olaoye B. Felix     Kwara United     Kwara Pdp     Balogun-Ojomu     Sarah Alade     Magaji Are     AbdulHamid Adi     Kudirat Arinola Lawal     Kunle Okeowo     IEDPU     Kwara State Fish Farmers Association     Abdulazeez Uthman     Sebastine Obasi     Abdulfatai Salman Baakini    

Cloud Tag: What's trending

Click on a word/phrase to read more about it.

National Pilot     Abdulkadir Orire     Ishaq Salman     Abubakar Olusola Saraki     Kwara North     NSCIA     Modibbo Kawu     Oluwole Dupe     Ajibike Katibi     Ohoro Of Shao     Abdulrosheed Okiki     Yusuf A. Usman     Asa     Akanbi-Oke     Kwara Hotel     Ilesha-Gwanara     Femtech     Tunji Arosanyin     John Obuh     Haashim Initiative For Community Advancement     Adekunle David Dunmade     Aso Ofi     Sebastine Obasi     Labaeka     AbdulHamid Adi     Bukola Ajikobi     Women For Change And Development Initiative     KWIRS     20 Billion Bond     Olatunji Ibrahim     Kunle Okeowo     Ope Saraki     Alfa Modibbo Belgore     Muftau Akanbi Oke     Aliyu Olatunji Ajanaku     Muideen Olaniyi Alalade     Ojo Fadumila     Tunde Saad     SGBN     Ayinde Oyepitan     Oniyangi     Muhammad Yahya     Saka Asiat Ayinke     Lawal Arinola Kudirat     Volunteers Of Ilorin Community And The Emirate     Veterinary Teaching Hospital     Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq     Oniyangi Kunle Sulaiman     Moro     Alikinla     NaAllah     Suleiman Rotimi Iliasu     Federal Polytechnic Offa     Kudirat Arinola Lawal     Bashirat Bola Bello     Kwabes     Ilorin Airport     Students Union Government     Hakeem Idris     VADA     Arca Santa     LAK Jimoh     Balogun-Ojomu     Ahmad Lawan     Ilorin Emirate     Umar Sanda Yusuf     Akom Construction And Engineering Synergy Ltd     Muhammed Abdullahi     Ojuekun     Razaq Atunwa     Abiodun Jacob Ajiboye     Sheriff Olanrewaju     Maryam A. Garuba     Oke-Odo     KWTV     Aishat Sulu-Gambari     Fulani