Photo credit: Nicholas Hunt
On July 11th Taofeek Abijako showcased his clothing brand’s latest collection, “Genesis,” at this year’s New York Fashion Week: Men’s. At age 19, Abijako became the youngest designer to do so after recently completing high school.
Abijako founded his clothing line, "Head of State+," just two years ago. At the same time, he made the move from his native Nigeria to Albany, NY. The NY fashion community first became aware of Head of State+ after a representative from the luxury retailer “United Arrows” found Abijako’s self-produced look book on Twitter. Shortly thereafter as he was completing his senior year in high school, The New York Times Style Magazine labeled HOS a “brand to watch” and the industry did just that.
He has shared that his approach to the clothing line has been like it’s “less of a brand and more of a case study." "It's me digging into my cultural upbringing while trying to have a firm grasp and understanding of it. My belief is furthering a philosophy of thoughtful, inconspicuous, and honest design across the board," he further explained.
He describes the Genesis collection as “minimalist streetwear approach with social and political commentary.” The collection, which features light-weight trucker jackets, tailored pants, and fitted knits, has attempted to pay homage to 70s era afro-futurism while also blending the vibrancy of West African youth culture. "Genesis is the translation of Afro-futurism portrayed by the likes of Parliament-Funkadelic and Sun Ra through the lens of West African youth.” He has also cited socio-political activists and artists such as Fela Kuti with influencing his work. His designs seek to understand and demonstrate the influences of European styles that have been adapted by traditional African designers.
Abijako’s rapid rise to the attention of major players within the fashion industry has not only inspired but also created a replicable example for young designers. He is proof that young designers expressing passionate sentiments while also creating uniquely branded fashion can sometimes bypass the typically anticipated hierarchy of the fashion industry. One can still blaze their own success trail and even be extended the opportunity to showcase their talent on the internationally renowned NYFW stage with minimal formal training or financial backing.
Check out Head of State’s full summer/spring 2018 collection here.