A teen from Nigeria is breaking barriers for Black men in the realm of fashion. Taofeek Abijako, 19, became the youngest designer to showcase a collection at Men’s New York Fashion Week, Teen Vogue reported.
The designer—who created a brand called Head of State+—recently debuted his 2019 Spring/Summer collection, the news outlet writes. The inspiration behind his collection—which he calls Genesis—celebrates Afro-futurism through high-end streetwear garments and features a little 70s nostalgia. “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,” said Abijako in a statement, according to the news outlet. “The continuous homage to Fela Kuti is also portrayed.”
The soccer player-turned-fashion designer’s brand started gaining notoriety after he unveiled it in 2016 and it was discovered by the Japan-based retailer United Arrows. After the retailer began offering his brand, Abijako started getting attention from fashion bibles, including The New York Times Style Magazine. Abijako says Head of State+ is an ode to his cultural upbringing. He hopes that his entrepreneurial journey will inspire youth to get involved in fashion and show them that staying true your vision and being authentic can take you to new heights in the industry, no matter how old you are.
Many Black fashion designers like Abijako are using their craft to challenge the norms of the fashion industry and break barriers. Entrepreneur Priscilla Debar launched a platform called Faubourg that highlights women of color who are passionate about environmental sustainability as it relates to fashion after noticing the lack of diversity in eco-conscious spaces.