Adebayo Oke-Lawal has been designing since the age of 10. He started Orange Culture in 2011, after having worked with several Nigerian designers, to turn his unique vision of fashion into reality. Since starting the label and an official runway debut at Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2011, he’s been hard at work trying to showcase Orange Culture to the world. The label is more than a clothing line, Adebayo insists. It is a “movement” that covers universal silhouettes with an African touch to a creative class of men, translating into a heady mixture of Nigerian inspired print fabrics, colour and contemporary urban street wear.
In the years since founding Orange Culture, the self-taught Adebayo Ole-Lawal has been quietly but forcefully pushing his vision of colorful, challenging, androgynous fashion on the world, in a mission to deconstruct or re-examine traditionally masculine modes of presentation. His work challenging gender norms and masculinity has been met with some pushback, but he doesn’t seem remotely concerned with it. As he told Vogue last year:
“We had, and still have, some problems. The way society is in Lagos…we’re used to very specific ways of seeing things. Gender is an exact way of thinking back home and has been for a very long time. Things have been written in the press that say Orange Culture is ‘feminizing our men’ and that we’re going to hell because of it. Now it’s just, like, I don’t care, you can write it. I’ve been doing this for years, and it is working, and it is still growing. If you have a problem with a man wearing jewelry or an oversize blouse or painting his nails, that’s your problem. It’s not Orange Culture’s!”
And while his androgynous clothing may be the more notable or press-worthy thing about his work, there’s no denying his slightly more traditional manifestations of womenswear and menswear still manage to be challenging and eye-popping in a way that feels so new it’s pre-new.
[Photo Credit: orangeculture.com.ng]