Become the in-crowd
The new lookbook by musician and lawyer-turned-acclaimed menswear designer Walé Oyéjidé, which was shot in Florence for his label Ikiré Jones, has caused a stir. He told Okayafrica website: “Italy is not as integrated as the US. People are not used to seeing a group of African guys in the city wearing suits.”
More often, he says, African men are seen as peddlers of bags and trinkets on street corners. But with his range, people wanted to know “who the celebrities were in their fly clothes”.
That reaction is precisely why he was shooting the lookbook in the first place. The new 2016 Autumn/Winter Collection, called After Migration by Ikiré Jones, attempts to challenge and disrupt perceptions of African migrants who have made Europe home.
Oyéjidé found the amateur models through a local settlement organisation that houses asylum seekers. Each of the men in this editorial had come to Italy fleeing oppression in his home country. Without delving into each model’s individual story, Oyéjidé wants to make a greater point about the lives of migrants, reframing them not as “invaders”, but as real people.
The editorial also attempts to address the issue of a lack of black models in high fashion, as well as the lack of employment opportunities for migrants.
The result is a beautiful, visually striking editorial that showcases the Ikiré Jones collection well, while also capturing the softness and vulnerability of the men he chose to be models.
The collection combines the lines of classic menswear with bold Ankara prints and unique details, a look that manages to both fit in and stand out. The grainy, almost dirtylooking filter of the images makes the gorgeous jackets and outfits pop.
“I thought it was important, for many reasons, to put them in front of the camera, not as props, but to convey their unique perspectives,” says Oyéjidé of his models.
He says they were paid properly and he hopes they will be able to break into fashion.
Shop online at ikirejones.com
Real people, real models