From issue two: Meet the winner of the inaugural Emerge ALÁRA award
Faith Oluwajimi, founder of androgynous brand Bloke, is the winner of the inaugural Emerge ALÁRA award. The prize is part of the Lagos concept store’s commitment to nurturing young creatives, and Nataal was among the judges who selected Oluwajimi for his innovative approach to knitwear, a category largely overlooked in contemporary African fashion, and therefore ripe for experimentation.
He’ll now receive funding and mentorship and present his SS19 collection, entitled A Collection About Nothing, at ALÁRA. “The collection expresses Dadaist ideas around the concept of ‘nothing’ being an entity in itself,” Oluwajimi explains. “If you assume absence is a relevant substance, then using the Bloke ethos, informed by the avant-garde art movement’s negation of accepted laws of beauty, then nothing is never black or white but the grey matter in between. It’s about viewing things in their essence.”
“I want my work to be able to stand up anywhere in the world, no excuses”
Fine gauge, silky knitwear such as elongated jumpers and cropped vests work with satin shirts and shorts and organza patchwork suiting in varying shades of bright white and soft grey. Details including poppers, stitched circle motifs and distorted lines of printed poetry by Lanaire Aderemi – plus chunky leather sandals and body bags – add to the expressive attitude. “Every season I experiment with new knitting techniques and brush up on my field. I want my work to be able to stand up anywhere in the world, no excuses,” he adds.
Oluwajimi was born in Ogun State and studied agriculture before relocating to Lagos in 2015, where he set about establishing Bloke, having taught himself to knit on a domestic machine. He’s since collaborated with contemporaries including Maxivive, Abiola Olusola and Orange Culture and been featured in BoF, Vogue Italia and Vice. In 2018, he made his catwalk debut at Lagos Fashion Week and now he looks forward to making the most of the award win. “Getting on a platform like this gives me international exposure, but it’s also reassurance for me as a designer and artist and for my wellbeing as a person.”
Nataal would like to thank the British Council’s West Africa Arts programme
This story appears in issue two of Nataal magazine. Buy it here