On today’s edition of Young Nigerians Making Waves Globally, we have Taofeek Abijako, a 19-year-old expressionist and creative designer behind the brand Head Of State+ based in New York.
Abijako just made history as the youngest person ever to showcase at New York Fashion Week.
Fresh out of high school, he created his fashion line two years ago.
“I’m interested in the way the natives adopted European styles and made them their own — I can say, natives, because I’m African,” he told the The New York Times.
Abijako was born in Lagos, Nigeria, where his father, Nureni Abijako, worked as an independent fashion designer — and sometimes brought his son along to work. Because he wasn’t allowed to touch any of the machinery, Abijako instead spent hours paging through his father’s sketches. After winning a Visa lottery, Nureni moved to the U.S. in 2004, with the family following in 2010 once they’d saved enough money.
Moving abroad to stay with his dad, he was able to build his menswear label. He was still a senior at Albany High School when he released the look book for his first collection on his Twitter feed. A few weeks later, when an email from a buyer for the Japanese luxury retailer United Arrows arrived, he assumed it was a prank by his friends. But the buyer asked to visit his studio; since Abijako was working out of his childhood bedroom, he suggested they met in Manhattan.
“I came to New York City with my clothes in a little bag and they looked at me like, ‘This little kid?’ But once I showed my work, they decided to carry the entire collection,” he says with a hint of pride. His luxe streetwear line, Head of State+, features wide-necked sweatshirts, cropped half-zips, fitted jeans and loungey basics, often in warm, rich tones. But the line also moves beyond the indispensable sweatpants to offer social and political commentary.
Now showing at the New York Men’s Fashion Week, Abijako says he approaches his label as 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.
Genesis is made up of “minimalist streetwear” – clothes that possess a social and political commentary.
The Spring/Summer 2019 collection Genesis portrays, “the vibrancy of West African youth culture in the ’70s and Fela Kuti.”