Bayo Oke-Lawal, the founder of Androgynous Nigerian fashion brand, Orange Culture, has made a mark to become the first ever African to be nominated for the International Woolmark Prize alongside some of the biggest brands in the world.
Bayo was picked from more than almost a thousand brands all over the world so that is a major achievement for the young designer who is only in his 20s.
Bayo, was a semi-finalist in the annual competition, which basically means he has been ushered into a category only occupied by legends, is also a host on Accelerate TV’s hit show, Shade Corner.
For some context, famously started in 1953, the Woolmark prize was first won by Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent in 1954.
In the past, the only way to get in the proverbial door was via selection committee (typically the approved nominating bodies like the CFDA, Shanghai Fashion Week, Portugal Fashion Week & the Centre for Fashion Enterprise amongst others) which of course kept it fairly Euro and US-centric, traditionally excluding markets in Africa, South America and Eastern Europe.
There have been non-European winners in the past, of course, Bodice – an Indian brand – took home the prestigious womenswear prize last year. However, for the first time, the competition was open to all via the online portal. Orange Culture was one of the selected 42 designers – out of an initial 300 judged by the following criteria: ‘Creativity, originality of design, innovation and brand recognition’.
Way to go Bayo!
See some of Bayo’s Orange Culture designs below: