Taofeek Abijako, 19, made history on Wednesday, becoming the youngest designer to showcase a collection at New York Fashion Week: Men’s.
Based in Albany, New York, Abijako attributes his passion for fashion to his Nigerian roots.
Abijako’s fashion label “pays homage to his past by celebrating his West African culture through a contemporary perspective”.
He described his collection ‘Genesis’ as a “minimalist streetwear approach with social and political commentary”.
“Genesis is the translation of Afro-futurism portrayed by the likes of Parliament-Funkadelic and Sun Ra through the lens of West African youth – while at the same time celebrating the vibrancy of West African youth culture in the ‘70s and drawing parallels to modern time,” he said in an interview with the CFDA.
“The continuous homage to Fela Kuti is also portrayed.”
Two years ago, Abijako founded the label Head of State+ — which the New York Times has described as a “brand to know”.
Abijako made his first significant sale while still a senior at Albany High School.
After sharing his first collection on Twitter, he received an email from a buyer for the Japanese luxury retailer ‘United Arrows’.
“I came to New York City with my clothes in a little bag and they looked at me like, ‘This little kid?!’ But once I showed my work, they decided to carry the entire collection, ” he said.
Growing up in Nigeria, Abijako’s love for design was birthed while watching his father, Nureni Abijako, who is also a fashion designer.
“My dad was a trained fashion designer while living in Nigeria and dealt mostly with local traditional garments,” he said.
“Growing up in an environment like that sparked my curiosity in design. In high school, I started exploring design in all forms, including painting, architecture, and fashion.
“That curiosity led to the birth of Head of State+.”
In 2004, his father moved to the US after winning a visa lottery. His family joined him in 2010 after they had saved up enough money.
The young designer describes his approach to his clothing line as “less of a brand and more of a case study”.
“It’s me digging into my cultural upbringing while trying to have a firm grasp and understanding of it.
“My belief is furthering a philosophy of thoughtful, inconspicuous, and honest design across the board.”
With tons of more success to look forward to, Abijako says his, “main focus is expanding on the stories already told”.
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