A Nasty Boy Feature: On the Edge of Glory

Words: Richard Akuson
Original Article: here
Editorial Credits:
Photography by Ofure Ighalo, Makeup and Hair by Desmond Macauley, Creative Direction by Richard Akuson, Art Design by Ofure Ighalo, Pieces by Orange Culture.
Lagos, Nigeria – It’s a sunny day and we’ve just arrived the Muri Okunola Park in Victoria Island, the location of our debut cover shoot with Adebayo Oke Lawal of leading menswear brand Orange Culture. Adebayo had at this point quickly opened his umbrella to shield himself from the scorching sun, “I couldn’t put on my sunscreen because of the makeup” he said almost like a response to the smirk that had now formed on my face. We’d gone back and forth for nearly a month on getting him to commit to covering our debut edit, working out our schedules – he’d just been to London for fashion week after missing his flight to Cape Town for the SA menswear Week and most importantly, over what the theme of the shoot would be and how far he could go or not.
Now, Adebayo has carefully built a really controlled personal brand and perception. On several meetings leading to our cover shoot, he’d turned down many television appearances in my presence. He’d just hosted the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards red carpet’s ‘fashion police’, he was expected to make a few post AMVCA press rounds one of which was an appearance on Channels Television’s ‘Rubbin Minds’ to recap on the fashions that went down at the awards show but to my dismay, he turned it down for brunch at Sugarcane. So, we didn’t just have to convince him, but actually getting him to fit into the vision we had for his cover story, we really had to find a meeting point if we wanted him on our cover. The farthest he could go was dye his hair and wear a few shorts that he wouldn’t on a normal day. “I hardly wear shorts in Nigeria. Only When on vacation in Europe or America’. I asked why as it honestly didn’t make any damn sense to my shorts-loving self. “Hah, I really can’t stand the stares. It’s enough getting those stares when wearing ordinary pants and shirts, which is discomforting enough, talk more of shorts. Lol, that’d be doing the most
Adebayo Oke Lawal has not always been this beloved personality with a huge fanbase that adore and stan for everything he puts his name, likeness or image on. Before this, he was nearly hated for the guts of starting a brand like Orange Culture, an androgynous brand that stood far and above what an everyday Nigerian man could and “should” wear. He’d had to endure cyber bullying, name calling etcetera, but he stuck to it as firmly as he sticks to the things he believes in.  Orange Culture at a time was deemed too queer and un-Nigerian, especially at a time when his contemporaries were making the things Nigerians love and appreciate the most – the familials; suits, long pants, t-shirts; you know, the basic every day stuff that us Nigerians appreciate the most. He stuck to his aesthetic and ethos, kept getting better one collection at a time and it didn’t take long for the West and indeed the rest of the world to take notice. I’d asked him once if he could by heart name the global publications he’d been featured on in the past – “New York Times, American Vogue, British Vogue, Business of Fashion, Italian Vogue, Wonderland, GQ, Huffington Post, Fucking Young, Elle, that’s as far as he could remember, but trust when I say the list goes on and on.
Unlike a lot of creatives in the fashion industry now, Adebayo Oke Lawal has actually had to pay his dues. Back when Arise was still existing, Adebayo alongside some close friends of his were only but interns at the Week. He vividly remembers fastening shoes at Maki Oh show. AT this point, we were at 355 Lounge where Adebayo and his friends Denola, Oyinye and Adrien were all having drinks and enjoying good music. Adebayo reminded Oyinye of the days they interned at shows, ran errands for designers and literally did every fucking menial thing that was thrown at them especially at a time that the industry was not even an industry yet. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that in 2014, Adebayo Oke Lawal alongside Maki Oh were listed among the 30 semi-finalists of the prestigious and highly coveted LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize. That was the career highlight that sprung his brand, Maki’s and many others before and after them unto the global spotlight. Since then, Orange Culture has gone on to showcase at Lagos Fashion and Design Week – where he was discovered – Pitti Uomo, Pitti Uomo Special Selection by Vogue and GQ, London Collections Men’s, Ethical Fashion Initiative, South Africa Menswear Week and most notably and recently, London Fashion Week under the auspices of London Fashion Scout where the designer indeed blossomed beyond expectations. The press loved the collection and so did the buyers, the collection has since moved from London to Paris then America where buyers have requested to have closer look at them.
Adebayo has been many things in the past. A fashion editor at WOW, creative director, stylist, womenswear designer, and now a menswear designer and an emerging personality who’s on TV offering commentary on topical issues on Accelerate’s ‘Shade Corner’ and across other platforms speaking on fashion and other related fields. He’s a social media influencer, influencing actual conversions for brands he wears and tags on his Instagram posts, this was quite evident when he posted a behind the scene shot from location, it didn’t take long for messages and comments from his Snapchat and Instagram to start pouring in with three  editors major titles messaging to indicate interest in having him on their covers, our Instagram page too benefited from all that as new followers found their way to our page, following, liking and dropping comments. I asked if he’d do the covers, he shrugged at the idea and said: “There’s something as too much exposure, I might do just one”.
That for a second made me smile and appreciate having him all to ourselves for a day. It’s funny how on both sides of the spectrum Adebayo Oke Lawal – the personal brand- and Orange Culture are both literally on the edge of glory, the former with a growing brand that is becoming a household name in Nigeria for inspiring many alternative brands like his, many years after he started the movement and the former on the verge of global domination. It doesn’t get better than this, not here in Nigeria and definitely not anywhere else!

Team Credits

Adebayo Oke-lawal

  • Message
  • Creative Director

Richard Akuson

  • Message
  • Editorial Director

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    A Nasty Boy

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Adebayo Oke-lawal
Creative Director
Richard Akuson
Editorial Director