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Meet the 5 Nigerian Fashion Influencers Who Made the Prestigious 2016 BOF 500 List | Rave ASPIRE!

Meet the 5 Nigerian Fashion Influencers Who Made the Prestigious 2016 BOF 500 List | Rave ASPIRE!

Amaka Osawkwe BOF nominee
Reni Folawiyo, Founder of Alara Concept Store, one of five Nigerian BOF 2016 nominees

Just in case you are wondering what BOF 500 is, well it’s kinda like a big deal, something like Fortune’s Top 100 or Time’s Most Influential List but for the fashion industry. According to BOF which stands for Business of Fashion, the BOF 500 is a professional index of people shaping the global fashion industry, based on hundreds of nominations received from current members of the BOF 500, data analysis and months of research to unearth names from all corners of the globe. Simply put, BOF 500 is a list of the top 500 global influencers, that it, the movers and the shakers in the world of fashion. Hence, it really is a big deal.

Now that that’s out of the way, you can imagine how excited I was when I realized our Nigerian fashion industry moved up another notch from 3 members last year to 5 of our major fashion players –two veterans and three first timers; two of whom you’ll be shocked to know– making the list this year. Therefore, giving us a seat at the table in the global fashion community and bringing us one step closer to upholding our title as Africa’s giant and now even in the fashion world as Africa’s fashion capital. So without further ado, here are the people who made that happen:

AMAKA OSAKWE – Designer, Maki Oh


Meet BOF 500 first timer, Amaka Osakwe, Creative Director and Founder of ready-to-wear label Maki Oh, who according to BOF is one of the biggest success stories to come out of Nigeria’s burgeoning fashion scene. She was raised in Lagos and earned a BA in Fashion Studies from Arts University before starting up her label in 2010.

Maki Oh’s debut collection for Autumn/Winter 2010 set the tone for the label’s signature melding of indigenous textiles and motifs with western silhouettes. The brand debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 but broke into the international scene  in 2013 when US First Lady Michelle Obama wore one of its design during a trip to Johannesburg, and later invited Osakwe to join her at the “Celebration of Design” event at the White House.

RENI FOLAWIYO – Chief Executive/Founder, Alara Concept Store


Reni Folawiyo is the founder of ‘Alara’, a concept store located in the heart of Victoria Island, Lagos that seeks to redefine luxury fashion for Nigerians. Meaning ‘wondrous performer’ in Yoruba, Alara is rapidly becoming a fashion destination for Nigerians and westerners alike seeking the best of curated fashion pieces.  The store stocks a range of western designers including Marni, Stella McCartney and Valentino. Alongside this, Folawiyo looks to champion the cause of Nigerian designs, stocking the work of Maki Oh, Lanre de Silva Ajayi and Tiffany Amber.

Prior to Alara, most Nigerian had to shop abroad for luxury items and clothes. The store was designed and built by the internationally renowned Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, whose design for the National Museum of African American History broke ground in 2012. The two time BOF 500 veteran described the Alara woman as someone who is a high-powered global citizen.

OMOYEMI AKERELE – Founder/Artistic Director, Style House Files


According to BOF, the BOF 500 veteran, Omoyemi Akerele is widely regarded as a driving force behind Nigeria’s rising fashion industry. She is responsible helping Nigerian brands gain international exposure through showcases at Lagos Fashion and Design Week (LFDW) which she founded in 2011, and at Pitti Immagine, Italy. Pitti Immagine is an international fair that has been described as one of the world’s most important platforms for men’s clothing and accessory collections.

LFDW runs a four day schedule featuring a select list of talented established and budding designers and fashion entrepreneurs. Partnered with the Britsh Fashion Council, the show has been instrumental in raising the profile of the Nigerian fashion industry and has drawn international attention and acclaim from journalists such as Suzy Menkes and Cristina Manfredi, as well as attracting a host of international buyers.

TAYO & AYO AMUSAN – Chairman & Managing Director, Persiana Group


According to Omoyemi Akerele, “the couple has a vision to grow the Nigerian retail sector.” Moving at a steady pace, the couple’s company, Persiana Group built its first mall of international standards in Nigeria- the Palms Mall and then followed suit with others malls in Lagos, Ibadan, Kwara and Enugu States plus another in Abuja that is soon to be launched.

The company’s retail arm is also responsible for bringing luxury franchises such as Hugo Boss and Lacoste into the country. For these BOF 500 first timers, Tayo remains focused on the property aspect of the company while Ayo over sees the retail part.

For more on the nominees and BOF, visit the Business of Fashion site.

Photo credit: Google | Amaka Osakwe cover image via Genevieve Magazine

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