Meet the Designer: Adebayo Okelawal

Adebayo OkeLawal 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 garments answer to just about anyone who’s interested in telling a story with the way they present themselves. All pieces are manufactured in Lagos, from ethically-sourced fabrics from local Nigerian fabric makers. Orange Culture takes their staff through rigorous training processes and offer them the opportunity to attend skill acquisition initiatives.


1. How would you describe your brand aesthetic?

Our brands aesthetic is one immersed in non cliche expressions of African culture. We like to create and express our culture however we choose, with custom prints, modernized African silhouettes merged with universal silhouettes. We do not believe in limiting silhouettes or fabrication based on gender, we believe every piece should be worn by every gender.

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2. What is your first fashion memory?

My mum is from a very elegant culture – Benin city, Edo state. Watching my mum and her sisters getting ready – adorning their beads, tying their colourful elegant damasks and colourful wraps. That for me was a moment of huge influence.

3. Where do you look for inspiration?

I’m an emotional creative / so if I can connect with things emotionally then I’d probably build off of it. I find inspiration in experiences, relationships and things I think should be gone, I’m very inspired by stereotypes around masculinity, around African expression, infuriating conversations and I’m very inspired by untold stories.

 Adebayo Okelawal is also very concerned with the youth as he launched a CSR project called “Painting your Dreams”, where he inspires young people through the art to believe in themselves.

4. As a designer what has been your biggest challenge to date?

Building a brand in Nigeria / because the industry is at a very young rate and we do not have a lot in terms of infrastructure
. So, it’s been tough manufacturing here but also rewarding being able to build through and impact with all the various things we are working on to help make it better.

5. What is your typical creative process?

I like to be inspired first – so I write down everything that inspires me, take photos and take notes. So, when I’m closer to seasons I pick the one that makes me feel something the most and sit down with the team. Print design begins first, we sit down and decide what kind of print expression and fabrics are we looking at, that express best the story we are telling. Once that’s decided, we begin to build mood board / colour story et al, then sketching begins. Once mood board is done and we’ve developed print Based on mood board, then design of clothes comes along. Design as many looks as possible but cut down to 20-25 sometimes less. Music selection and visual communication ideas are drawn and then production begins. It’s a crazy pattern haha

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6. What do you think consumers of fashion need to be made more aware of?

The diversity of African brands / Africa is not one country and we do not need to fit into any antiquated stereotype of African design. As a continent, each country is so different and expresses itself in its own way and that’s what makes us all beautiful

7. What do you love designing the most?

Being able to create some level of social change and start conversations with collections. When we started talking about masculinity and speaking on how men need to be vulnerable 10 years ago/ people didn’t really care, but now everyone’s talking about It and pushing the narrative.

8. How do you select your materials and fabric?

Based on the story of the collection and how and what we want people to feel when they see and hear the story.

9. What part does sustainability play in your work?

We’ve always been an ethical brand. We practice slow fashion; we produce all our pieces locally and ensure all our staff are taken care of. We source our fabrics ethically, locally dye our cottons and linens, and imbibe local fabric techniques in a lot of our collections.

We also have an education platform which we use to educate young designers within the continent and recently launched a competition that pushes brands into retail.

We have a rental service for consumers as well and have a refurbishing service which allows customers keep their purchase in the system longer. We also practice waste management in our production systems – as we use fabric leftovers for masks, linings and even furniture.

10. What is your ultimate design goal?

To be able to do 100 percent locally and to be so fully impactful in the GDP of my country that the government would have to wake up and support the industry haha

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11. What do you think the future will bring to fashion?

Reality shock. Haha – I think the wax is being taken off the eyes of designers et al and the severity of the need to create an industry with longevity is finally coming to play. It’s time to create a healthier fashion industry and that’s the future of fashion.

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