Tag Archives: Fashion & Style

Women leading the coverage as Nigerian fashion booms

It’s not easy running a fashion magazine in Nigeria.

Spurred by the leadership of entrepreneurial women and Nigeria’s cultural cachet around Africa and the world, the country’s fashion magazine industry has found a receptive audience.

From left, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Chioma Onwutalobi, Betty Irabor and Tewa Onasanya. Photo: Fom left, Yagazie Emezi for The New York Times, Lauren Fleishman for The New York Times, Yagazie Emezi for The New York Times, Sophia Spring for The New York Times
From left, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Chioma Onwutalobi, Betty Irabor and Tewa Onasanya. Photo: Fom left, Yagazie Emezi for The New York Times, Lauren Fleishman for The New York Times, Yagazie Emezi for The New York Times, Sophia Spring for The New York Times

By Adenike Olanrewaju


Printing presses are few, and high-quality paper stock is hard to find. In Lagos, the country’s largest city and the hub of its fashion industry, consistent electricity is an issue, with power going in and out throughout the day. And there is no formal distribution network, beyond selling the publications in a select few chain outlets or at major airports.

Many magazines rely on street vendors to sell single issues to commuters stuck in the notoriously slow Lagos traffic along thoroughfares like Obafemi Awolowo Way in the city’s Ikeja section. The transactions are clumsy: Customers quickly throw money out their car windows before traffic picks up and they move on.

Beyond all the logistical hurdles, roughly 87 million people in Nigeria — out of a population of around 200 million — live below the poverty line. But thanks to industries like oil, the country is also awash in wealth and opulence, and luxury brands are eager to establish firmer footholds there.

So the Nigerian fashion magazine industry has found a receptive young readership. People turn to the publications looking for the latest news about movie stars, Afrobeats artists, fashion models, social media personalities and African reality TV figures, along with events like Fashion Week in Lagos last month.

And it has benefited from the cultural cachet that Nigerian fashion and entertainment have built up around the globe.

Performers like Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and Davido have made Afrobeats, a musical style influenced by Caribbean, hip-hop, electronic and highlife music, popular worldwide. And Nollywood, as the Nigerian film industry is known, generates close to $700 million a year.

Nigerian designers have gained international recognition with a style sense that is inherently cultural. Amaka Osakwe’s women’s wear line Maki Oh has dressed boldface names like Michelle Obama, Lupita Nyong’o and the Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaji using adire, a distinctive hand-woven dyed cloth from southwest Nigeria. On her Instagram page, the Nigerian-born author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie showcases photos of herself in colorful, eye-grabbing outfits, along with the hashtag #MadeinNigeria. Another influential designer, Duro Olowu, who has dressed notable figures like Solange Knowles and Mrs. Obama, was born in Lagos and often posts inspiration from his home country on Instagram.

“In Lagos, the average girl on the street is wearing leopard print leggings, a red top and a big turban and she just doesn’t care,” said Bolaji Animashaun, founder of The Style HQ, a Lagos-based fashion and lifestyle website. “Our fashion is not soft. There’s something in us that is always fighting, and it comes through in our style.”

Here are four entrepreneurial women, ranging in age from 28 to 61, who are leading publications both new and old to capture this cultural milieu. In doing so, they are serving a wide audience throughout the African continent and within diasporic enclaves in the United States and Britain and telling the story of Nigeria to the world.


GENEVIEVE MAGAZINE

Betty Irabor

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Betty Irabor, sitting, who created Genevieve Magazine in 2003, and her daughter, Sonia, who is an editor there. Photo: Yagazie Emezi for The New York Times

When Betty Irabor started Genevieve in 2003, advertisers paid little mind to women’s magazines.

“The Guardian, Punch, Vanguard,” Mrs. Irabor said, referring to the publications that drew ad dollars. “It was very business- and hard news-focused, and very little money was dedicated to lifestyle and fashion pages.”

And so, as a member of Lagos’s elite — Mrs. Irabor, 61, has been married to the media personality Soni Irabor for 35 years — she leveraged her personal contacts with advertisers to secure funding. Even those who agreed thought Genevieve would be short-lived. “Magazines here come and go every day,” she said.

Fifteen years later, the publication is one of Nigeria’s leading women’s magazines and has a staff of 14 working from its headquarters in Lagos’s Lekki neighborhood. It publishes 10 issues a year, retailing for 1,000 naira, or about $2.80. The covers are glitzy and celebrity-driven: Its July/August edition featured the Nigerian actress Adesua Etomi, who starred in the Nollywood hit “The Wedding Party,” and the film veteran Joke Silva graced September’s cover. As publisher, Mrs. Irabor has become a celebrity of sorts herself; she was recently part of a Lancôme ad campaign.

The magazine has placed an emphasis on its digital operations, the better to serve an increasingly younger audience that wants round-the-clock coverage of celebrity news. And it is a family affair. Mrs. Irabor’s daughter, Sonia, 28, is an editor at the magazine, helping her mother stay abreast of what topics will appeal to young, cosmopolitan Nigerian professionals. Sonia’s confirmation name is also what gave the publication its title.

Mrs. Irabor is still pushing to bring attention to subjects she thinks the public is ready to read about. She has written a memoir, “Dust to Dew,” that chronicles her yearslong struggle with depression. In it, she reflects on a “mental breakdown” that she says was brought on by long hours at work and bouts of insomnia.

“I believe it’s time to get the conversation going,” she said. “I went through this and have survived. It will be O.K.”


TODAY’S WOMAN

Adesuwa Onyenokwe

Adesuwa Onyenokwe of Today’s Woman magazine, which publishes 10 issues a year and has an online audience of more than 200,000.
Adesuwa Onyenokwe of Today’s Woman magazine, which publishes 10 issues a year and has an online audience of more than 200,000. Photo: Yagazie Emezi for The New York Times

After a 15-year stint as a reporter for Nigeria’s largest television network, NTA, Adesuwa Onyenokwe was tired of reporting stories that had no women in them. So she created a program for Nigerian public television called “Today’s Woman With Adesuwa.”

But, for a working mother of seven, producing the show soon became a challenge, too.

“I wanted to be more in control of my time,” said Ms. Onyenokwe, who is 55. “I wanted to see my kids.”

Her latest endeavor is Today’s Woman, a lifestyle and news magazine that publishes 10 times a year. Today’s Woman has also developed an app that costs 500 naira a month, or about $1.40. The app allows the magazine’s online audience of 200,000-plus readers to share content with one another.

Instead of featuring celebrities, its covers usually highlight topics many in Nigeria still consider taboo; articles like “Drug Abuse Is Closer Than You Think” and “Say No to Domestic Violence.”

“No one was really addressing these problems,” she said. “Beyond the fashion, we’re insistent on addressing things that should matter.”

Ms. Onyenokwe remains committed to the magazine, but her plans for living a more relaxed lifestyle seem laughable now.

“My kids all say that I work harder than I’ve ever worked before,” she said. “But I believe in the importance of shining a light on important issues and just telling the story.”


GLAM AFRICA

Chioma Onwutalobi

Chioma Onwutalobi, editor of Glam Africa, left Nigeria at 17 and leads the publication from its office in the fashionable London neighborhood of Shoreditch.
Chioma Onwutalobi, editor of Glam Africa, left Nigeria at 17 and leads the publication from its office in the fashionable London neighborhood of Shoreditch. Photo: Lauren Fleishman for The New York Times

Chioma Onwutalobi got her start as a gossip blogger, finding time to write even as she was earning a law degree at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain. After graduating, she started Glam Africa in 2015.

“I come from a very entrepreneurial family, so making something out of nothing was never a foreign concept to me,” she said.

Her quarterly magazine, focused on celebrity and lifestyle news, now has a circulation of 1.4 million, making it one of the most-read periodicals among women in Africa. It has offices in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Britain, with plans to expand to the United States.

It also places a premium on fostering a sense of intimacy with its audience. It hosts an annual Glam Africa gala, as well as smaller events throughout the year — usually brunches and tea parties — that often attract professionals with disposable income like doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. They are sponsored by European beauty brands like Schwarzkopf Got2b.

Recently, the magazine began a “Beyond Beauty” campaign featuring Britain-based social media influencers and bloggers sharing their experiences with self-acceptance and self-worth. At one event in London, a panel of women discussed their experiences with conditions like alopecia, in which a person loses her body hair, and vitiligo, in which the skin loses pigment, causing discolored patches. One panelist shared her struggles with discrimination based on skin tone, and another with the visible injuries she experienced from a burn accident.

Ms. Onwutalobi, 28, leads the magazine from its headquarters in the fashionable Shoreditch neighborhood in London, where she has lived since leaving Nigeria at 17. Every other month or so, Ms. Onwutalobi travels to the magazine’s offices in Africa to meet with potential advertisers, scout for writers and broker partnerships with local vendors. The majority of her staff is younger than 30, but when Ms. Onwutalobi has meetings with people outside the magazine, she is often the youngest executive in attendance.

“Being a woman, a young woman, it’s hard for people to listen to you,” she said. “Hands down, the hardest thing is getting men to listen to me. Sometimes, I have to spend an hour getting the men in the room to see me as an equal. It’s frustrating.”

She added: “This shouldn’t be an issue anymore. If African women are to be empowered, we’re going to need men to do their part.”


EXQUISITE MAGAZINE

Tewa Onasanya

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“Africa is having a moment,” said Tewa Onasanya, the founder and editor in chief of Exquisite Magazine. Photo: Sophia Spring for The New York Times

As founder and editor in chief of Exquisite Magazine, a lifestyle publication based in Lagos, Tewa Onasanya said she wanted to reveal the richness of homegrown African culture.

Ms. Onasanya, 40, a British-Nigerian, started the magazine in 2003 when, she said, the rest of the world looked to African diasporic enclaves in the United States and in Britain for inspiration. Now, people are able to find fashion inspiration directly from the continent, she said. She mentioned how gratifying it was to see Wizkid — best known to American audiences for his appearance in the Drake song “One Dance” — walking in a recent Dolce & Gabbana show and to hear how the sounds she grew up with are now considered mainstream.

“Nowadays, you hear Afrobeats in the clubs and you say to yourself, ‘Yes, we’re here,’” she said.

“Before, our culture existed in pockets abroad — in the U.K., in the United States,” she added. “But now everyone is starting to look to our talents here at home. Africa is having a moment.”

Exquisite covers fashion and celebrity news for an audience of primarily middle-income and affluent women in Nigeria. Its quarterly print publication has a circulation of about 10,000, but its website has 152,000 subscribers and gets about a million visits each week. It is also distributed through an email newsletter and the message platform WhatsApp, which is used widely in Africa.

When the supermodel Naomi Campbell arrived in Nigeria this year and expressed a desire to see Vogue magazine begin an African edition, Ms. Onasanya — like many others in the Nigerian fashion community — disagreed.

“I am a Vogue fan,” she said. “But starting a Vogue Africa seems a bit unnecessary, almost like reinventing the wheel. We have Lagos Fashion Week now; we have a thriving community of local designers and models, all with their ears to the street, so we’re not lacking in content.”

The magazine has a team of 11 and now has its own awards event: ELOY — Exquisite Ladies of the Year, which honors African women. It also holds two fund-raising walks to raise awareness for cervical cancer, a disease that kills one women every hour in Nigeria.

“Finally, people — ourselves included — are realizing our value and how important showing Africa’s talents to the world is,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

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African fashion excites Lagos

Models will be sashaying in Nigeria’s main city for the next few days for Lagos Fashion Week, which opened on Thursday night.

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For the first time in eight years, the fashion show has expanded the number of designers from across Africa and will be featuring more than 50 of them.2423bc79-be5a-4cd4-baa8-46d7da8d13c9c5aeb61d-5e3b-452a-a5c1-ce2bdc5e1abaad582310-0362-4dca-a23c-b18998f6aadd

One collection on Thursday, curated by the magazine publisher Betty Irabor, was about showcasing strength and confidence on the runway.

The Fashion Awards 2018: nominations revealed

Industry favourites Kim Jones, Virgil Abloh and Riccardo Tisci have all been given nods in the same year they made their highly anticipated debuts.

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The Fashion Award nominations for 2018 have been announced this morning, with major nods going to the most high-profile designer debuts of the year.

Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh and Dior Homme’s Kim Jones, who unveiled their first collections for the luxury houses in July, have both picked up a nomination in the prized Designer of the Year category, while Riccardo Tisci, who took over the reigns at Burberry, has been nominated in the British Designer of the Year Menswear group.

As in previous years, Northern-Irish designer Jonathan Anderson leads with the largest number of nominations, the three of which are split between his own-name label JW Anderson and Spanish house Loewe, where he is also creative director. Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller, who famously designed the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding dress this year, is up for two awards – Designer of the Year and British Designer of the Year Womenswear – while Alessandro Michele, the design supremo credited with reversing the fortunes of Gucci, is nominated for Designer of the Year and Accessories Designer of the Year.

The 10 pre-announced awards, which will be given out at a star-studded ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall on December 10, also include categories for: British Emerging Talent Menswear; British Emerging Talent, Womenswear; Business Leader; Model of the Year; Urban Luxe and Brand of the Year. The latter sees Balenciaga, Burberry, Gucci, Off-White and Prada up for the top prize.

“We are delighted to reveal the nominees for the 2018 Fashion Awards,” said Nadja Swarovski, member of the executive board at Swarovski which sponsors the event. “Representing fashion’s most inspiring emerging and established talents, this list is the perfect showcase for the energy and diversity of the industry today.”

For the first time, this year’s awards will also honour 100 of the most innovative and inspiring talents from around the world, ranging from makeup artists and models to digital influencers and journalists, voted for by 2,000 members of the fashion industry.

Additional awards that are not voted for but chosen by the British Fashion Council and which will also be awarded on the night are Outstanding Achievement, the Swarovski Award for Positive Change, the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator and the Special Recognition Award for Innovation.

The awards, which were rebranded as the Fashion Awards in 2016 and relocated to the Royal Albert Hall from the much smaller Coliseum venue in London, act as a major fundraising event for the not-for-profit BFC. Whereas it was previously an invite-only event, members of the public are now invited to purchase tickets to attend the ceremony, which was devised by the then-chair Dame Natalie Massenet to rival the Met Gala.

Her successor, Stephanie Phair, said today: “I would like to congratulate all the nominees … Each and every one of them is being recognised for their creative excellence and innovation. I look forward to celebrating them alongside the rest of the industry from across the globe.”

The full list of nominees are:

Accessories Designer of the Year
Alessandro Michele for Gucci
Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga
Jonathan Anderson for Loewe
Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior
Miuccia Prada for Prada

Brand of the Year
Balenciaga
Burberry
Gucci
Off-White
Prada

British Designer of the Year Menswear
Craig Green for Craig Green
Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson
Kim Jones for Dior Homme
Martine Rose for Martine Rose
Riccardo Tisci for Burberry

British Designer of the Year Womenswear
Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy
Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson
Roksanda Ilinčić for Roksanda
Simone Rocha for Simone Rocha
Victoria Beckham for Victoria Beckham

British Emerging Talent Menswear
Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty for Cottweiler
Eden Loweth & Tom Barratt for Art School
Kiko Kostadinov for Kiko Kostadinov
Phoebe English for Phoebe English
Samuel Ross for A-Cold-Wall*

British Emerging Talent Womenswear
Matty Bovan for Matty Bovan
Natalia Alaverdian for A.W.A.K.E.
Rejina Pyo for Rejina Pyo
Richard Quinn for Richard Quinn
Sofia Prantera for Aries

Business Leader
Jonathan Akeroyd for Versace
José Neves for Farfetch
Marco Bizzarri for Gucci
Marco Gobbetti for Burberry
Michael Burke for Louis Vuitton

Designer of the Year
Alessandro Michele for Gucci
Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy
Kim Jones for Dior Homme
Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino
Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton

Model of the Year
Adut Akech
Adwoa Aboah
Bella Hadid
Kaia Gerber
Winnie Harlow

Urban Luxe
Alyx
Palace
Marine Serre
Off-White
Supreme


  • This article was amended on 23 October 2018 as the British Fashion Council corrected two nominees’ names that were in their original press release.

Cover photo: Model behaviour: Adwoa Aboah poses in the winners room with her Model of The Year award at the Fashion Awards in 2017. Photo: Mike Marsland/BFC/Getty Images for BFC

Rihanna reveals her thoughts on Lingerie and her ‘battle’ with Social Media

The singer and designer wants to broaden the fashion community while also disorienting it.

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Rihanna, at her Savage x Fenty lingerie show, aims to broaden the fashion community.Photo: Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

Last year Hamish Bowles, a writer for Vogue, asked Rihanna in an interview about her big-picture plans for her fashion brand. “I know where I’m going next,” she said. “But I can’t tell you that. What’s the fun in that?”

After her Savage x Fenty lingerie show last night, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Rihanna’s strategy seemed clear: She plans to broaden the fashion community while also disorienting it.

She wants to entertain herself, too. “I get bored. I get very bored,” Rihanna said backstage after the show. “It’s like a pair of shoes, you know. They’re only good until tomorrow.”

Already, the singer and designer has shown that restless daring with her personal style, turning an ever-present wineglass into an accessory and wearing a dress by a young designer fresh out of Pratt Institute in a music video.

With Fenty Beauty, the makeup line she introduced last year, she created a truly diverse makeup brand, offering products in dozens of shades across the color spectrum.

Now, perhaps in a riposte to Victoria’s Secret, Rihanna is doing the same with lingerie. Yes, supermodels including Gigi and Bella Hadid made an appearance. But the collection was much more about presenting women of all sizes and ethnicities, including two visibly pregnant models.

Raisa Thomas, a 26-year-old makeup artist and plus-size model, said she “got hit up by a casting director in a DM” and wound up in the show. She appreciates how Rihanna is diversifying the fashion industry, she said.

“She’s putting it on the map for people to be inclusive,” Ms. Thomas said. “Plus size, white, black. It’s good for young women to see different types of people in a fashion show.”

The crowd, too, felt more diverse than the typical celebrities and fashion regulars, many of whom were on their way to the airport to catch flights to Europe for the shows there.

As for the disorientation, the presentation paid little attention to fashion show protocol. Models emerged unannounced in dim light until the milling crowd took notice that the show had actually started; cellphones were then whipped out.

The elevated stage was more built installation than runway, with a pond, a “growing station” and tropical-plant-filled botanical domes that blocked sightlines. Unless you moved around the room (there was no seating), you missed half the looks. The vibe was less lingerie-show gawkfest than performance art piece, with models moving in slow motion, crawling on all fours, executing fierce choreographed dance moves.

Backstage, Rihanna said the concept was about mixing the organic with the futuristic, “or what we hope to see in the future. Women being celebrated in all forms and all body types and all races and cultures.”

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Bralettes, undies and pajamas were shown amid tropical-plant-filled botanical domes at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Photo: Nina Westervelt for The New York Times
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The atmospherics were less lingerie-show gawkfest than 1970s performance art. Photo: Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

She added: “It’s a shame that women have to feel insecure or self-conscious about how their bodies look.”

Though her sportswear line with Puma was a success, the clothing brand didn’t show a collection this year. And her shows during New York Fashion Week have seemed more an outgrowth of convenient scheduling, coming during the same week as her Diamond Ball fund-raising gala. One wonders where she will go from here.

Asked about her move into lingerie, Rihanna said, “I wanted to do it, I wanted to get it right and I wanted it to be something that was respected. So I took my time.”

She was still “shocked,” she said, that the industry takes her seriously as a designer. “I know where I’m at. I’m brand new. I’m learning still and growing. I love to create. I love the process.”

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The crowd included the model Stella Duval (left) and the hip-hop artist Christian Combs (center). Photo: Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

Rihanna was less enthusiastic about the promotional part of brand building, especially through social media. She has called Instagram “the death of trends,” and her prolific use of Snapchat has cooled recently.

“I get that it helps the brand and it’s a way of communicating your events and your new products to your fans and to the world,” Rihanna said, before adding, “there’s a battle between what you genuinely want to share and what people care to know.”

She laughed. “I respect it. But, you know, I’m not going to put my every meal” on it.

Cover photo: Rihanna and a Savage x Fenty model backstage at the brand’s New York Fashion Week show on September 12, 2018. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Why Levi’s T-shirts were everywhere you looked this summer

Once seen as honest workwear, the brand also has rebel spirit. No wonder the T-shirt has been ubiquitous in 2018.

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When historians look back on the summer of 2018, they will talk about the record-breaking heatwave, the World Cup – and Levi’s T-shirts. On the train, in the park, at the art gallery; they are everywhere.

Levi’s says that revenues from online sales grew 19% in the second quarter of 2018. But why? Could it be that in these frighteningly uncertain times, a classic brand such as Levi’s feels reassuring? Historically, Levi’s was workwear. It stands for old-school tradition, but it also has ties with rebellion and counterculture; like Oreos and Oprah, it brings together both sides of the American political spectrum. It is cool without being pretentious, and widely available: John Lewis, Debenhams, Topman, Asos and Amazon all stock the classic Levi’s tee, as well as Levi’s shops themselves. It might also be that it serves as a substitute for the pricier/trendier Supreme box logo shirt, but at a pocket-patting £20.

Advertising has probably played a part in its recent popularity, even if it feels as if this trend started on the street. In August last year, the company released Circles, an ad showing people from different cultures dancing, from Bhangra to hora, dabke to dancehall, with the tagline: “Men, women, young, old, rich, poor, straight, gay: let’s live how we dance.” With 22m views, it was one of the top 10 most-watched ads on YouTube in 2017.

We asked Levi-wearing members of the public about their choice of purchase:

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From left: Rafay, Megan and Ryan. Photo: Malcolm Mackenzie

Ryan, 21 “I got mine a couple of months ago. I’d seen them before in a couple of places and I like the design and the brand because it’s classic.”

Meghan, 26 “I was given mine as a birthday present. Levi’s means good quality, I like that a white T-shirt is simple, goes with everything.”

Rafay, 32 “I bought the tee last year because I felt like the 90s/00s logo resurgence was a cute moment, but now I have started seeing them everywhere and it’s a bit much. It might have to become an ‘around the house’ tee instead.”

Chris, 39 “I bought it two weeks ago. I just liked the colour. Levi’s is the original: the first jeans brand, and it’s cool.”

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Valerie and Snoopy (left) and Chris. Photograph: Malcolm Mackenzie

Wesam, 22 “I was given the shirt as a gift three months ago. We saw this in the shop and liked it. It’s a classic.”

Valerie, 27 “Snoopy was the deciding factor for me. I’ve seen lots of people wearing the Levi’s T-shirts since I bought it, but I haven’t seen mine, so it doesn’t really bother me.”

 

Instagram’s ‘outfit of the day’ hashtag is bad for fashion and for growth – here’s why

There are already 2m of these posts, which showcase new outfits. The ‘snap and send back’ culture is risky, warns activist Caryn Franklin.


Almost one in 10 people say they buy clothes online just to post an image on social media, before sending them back immediately for a refund; among those aged 35 to 44, this rises to nearly one in five.

Barclaycard, which commissioned the new research, says this trend to “snap and send back” is on the rise, in part thanks to the hashtag “outfit of the day” (#OOTD). Here, Instagrammers upload a picture of themselves to showcase what they are wearing – in a bedroom, on a beach or on the streets – and the hugely popular hashtag has more than 2m posts.

What does this tell us about ourselves and our clothes? For Caryn Franklin, fashion commentator and an activist for sustainable fashion, the answer is: nothing good.

Fashion at its best, she says, gives us the chance to explore and create our identity, to figure out who we want to be. She has seen this from early in her career when she worked as a personal stylist: “I saw beautiful miracles at the mirror, as ordinary women witnessed their indisputable magnificence. Clothes are firmly embedded in our emotional experience of ourselves. We dream of who we wish to be and feel better connected to that person through the garment we inhabit.”

In the age of Instagram, identity has become a brand, and jumping on the high-speed buy-and-return bandwagon has created “an instant, disposable self”, she says. “My clothes are like longstanding loyal friends. They make me feel joyous, brave, excited. Does buying, Instagramming and returning an entire

outfit in a day provide us with any but the most superficial feelings?”

Franklin remembers a pre-digital fashion experience that involved yearning for that longed-for dress or coat or pair of shoes, saving up and finally making the trip to the shops before rushing back to enjoy the new purchase.

“The experience of buying, bonding with the newly acquired item and returning home for the subsequent styling session would signal the beginning of yet another fulfilling relationship. All this, without cameras.” Now, she says, the OOTD hashtag, among others, has encouraged “a combination of the heady alchemy of narcissism and dysfunctional consumption”.

This is symptomatic of our problematic relationship with fast fashion, she says, and has implications for the environment and the economy, as well as for our souls. It is not sustainable. In what she calls “a transparent illustration of the reduced value of their mass produced product,” having secured higher and higher sales, online retailers may now be panicking at high-level returns. She says: “The fashion industry has lost its currency. Some might say our industry deserves no mercy, having been accused of so many wrongs akin to eating its own young. Now fashion is eating itself.”


This story was originally published on The Guardian, UK. Cover photo is from Fashion Boom on Instagram

Juicy fruit: how the lemon won summer style

Forget florals or palm fronds, fruits are the print to wear in 2018, and, thanks to Beyoncé, lemons are the pick of the bunch.

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Added zing: Solange Knowles, Kris Jenner and the Duchess of Sussex. Photo: Guardian Design Team

She might not know it, but Hattie White, Jay-Z’s grandmother, was the instigator of this summer’s juiciest trend. Her 90th birthday speech is broadcast on Beyoncé’s Lemonade (you’ll know the bit even if you haven’t ever listened to the album). “I was served lemons,” she says, “but I made lemonade.”

Two years on from those immortal words #whenlifegivesyoulemons has been used more than 160,000 times on Instagram, and spawned a thousand memes. The lemon emoji, meanwhile, has almost three million hashtags. Beyoncé was – as ever – early on the trend. Keen to make her album a 360 experience, fans could buy a baseball cap with a lemon on it for her 2017 tour, and it’s still available online. The lemon has since blossomed. Forget florals or palm fronds, fruits are the print to wear in 2018, and lemons are the pick of the bunch.

You’ll find them on swimsuits at Matchesfashion and dresses at Asos. Lemon earrings are a thing at Accessorize, Jacquemus and boutique brands including Wolf & Moon. They add zing to any outfit (they will also start conversations, so be warned – don’t wear if you are not keen for a chat at the bus stop). Lemons on T-shirts work, too – Ganni’s Murphy, which features a lemon, was an influencer favourite. It is sold out but you can find similar versions at Topshop and Missguided (FYI early adopters: Ganni has moved on to the banana). Celebrities have also taken to impersonating the fruit – the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex have worn shift dresses the colour of limoncello over the past week, a confident hit of serotonin for public engagements.

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BA&SH lemon printed mini dress, £150, from Asos; Tie-back midi dress, £39, Warehouse; Lemon print bardot top, £16, Sainsburys. Photo: Guardian Design Team

If summer 2017 was tropical – pineapples and palms – this year has shifted. The alpha lemon to have printed on your dress – or artfully arranged on a bleached wood table on your social media post – is the Sorrento lemon, native to Italy. It hails from the Amalfi Coast, and comes unwaxed with organic-looking nobbles and bobbles and, ideally, a couple of leaves still attached (smooth GM-style fruits aren’t really reading the room).

There’s a sort of timeless, universal appeal to the lemon print in the summer, one that feels instant, friendly and inclusive rather than in-the-know like, say, slogan or band T-shirts. They have been an everyday motif in art for centuries – in paintings from 17th-century Dutch still lives, to Picasso’s abstractions in the 1930s, Roy Lichtenstein’s pop lemons and even the 1989 Stone Roses album, a John Squire take on a Jackson Pollock.

In a world where the visual gag is king, perhaps the thinking is that wearing nature’s bounty on your person provides almost as many vitamins as eating it. Citrus fruit seem to win, perhaps due to innate zestiness – they have been everywhere from Stella McCartney’s lemon, lime and orange prints in 2011 , to JW Anderson’s cult lemon polo shirt last year. A similar design is now at H&M for £8.99.

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Clockwise from top left: Lemonade hat,£27.35; Beyoncé; Swimsuit, £155, bySolid & Striped atMatchesfashion; Necklace, £10,Meri Meri at The Conran Shop; Earrings, £8, Accessorize; Earrings,£38, Wolf & Moon. Photo: Guardian Design Team

It makes sense, perhaps, that when it comes to designers, Dolce & Gabbana really own the lemon trend. They are geographically closest to the Amalfi Coast, after all. The Italian duo produced a collection based on the mercato ortofrutticolo – that’s Italian for farmer’s market, but you knew that – including tomatoes, courgette flowers and chillies in 2012. Lemons have emerged as a favourite though. A whole collection appeared in 2016. Last year, they released a jewellery campaign shot in a lemon orchard. As with most things with the Italian label, the vibes here are sex kitten off-duty – Sophia Loren cooking up spaghetti al limone, or Brigitte Bardot visiting Picasso at his studio in 1956.

Your wardrobe this summer, then, sits in the Venn diagram of the Beyoncé effect, Sophia and Brigitte’s looks and the classicism of those still lifes. Earrings have a pop impact that means they can carry the rest of your outfit. An off-the-shoulder blouse such as the one at Tu is an easy way to add a bit of the Amalfi Coast to the less picturesque environs of, say, a suburban BBQ. A lemon dress – as everyone from Solange Knowles to Kris Jenner knows – turns up the summer occasion just a notch. The other option, of course, is to turn it up to 11 by wearing full lemon yellow like a duchess. Kate’s is – of course – from Dolce & Gabbana. Find yours at Warehouse for £39 and say a little thank you to Hattie White when you wear it. After all, life gave her lemons, and she gave us the lemon trend


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Fashion trends: the season’s freshest looks for men and women

From YSL’s hippy chic to Versace’s pastels, here are the key looks to inspire you this season.

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Neutral tones and diaphanous fabrics are the perfect light addition to your spring wardrobe (victoriabeckham.com. • Tip: try French Connection’s pleated sheer skirt for an affordable take on the trend

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No 2018 summer wardrobe is complete without a surf shirt, as seen at Louis Vuitton (louisvuitton.com• Tip: Topman and All Saints have some of the best on the high street Models Akira at The Hive, Anna Baynes at Elite, Elias at Premier and Tidiou at Select Hair Jason Crozier at Stella Creative Artists using Windle and Moodie Make-up Juliana Sergot using Lancôme

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African designers pull out all stops for fashion week


Cape Town — If you couldn’t make it to the African Fashion International’s Cape Town Fashion Week, don’t worry I’ve got you covered.

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You know it’s going to be a great series of shows when you’re greeted with free drinks. Come on, who doesn’t like freebies?!

This year’s theme was #IamAfrica. The show celebrated and showcased exceptional African creative talent on a global stage. The show included designers from Ghana, South Africa, Morocco, Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo Kinshasa and Nigeria.

The show opened with one of South Africa’s top designers Gavin Rajah showcasing his latest range.  His new range bursting with colour and Japan-inspired designs. From there onwards, other designers brought us “magic”.  The creativity, the art, the runaway, the music and the crowd – everything was lit. Some of us, even wondered if we could ever pull off some of these fashion designers clothes.

Inspired by bold, vibrant, and authentic African spirit, the show was hosted at one of South Africa’s iconic spaces – Salt River Film Studios –  an old compound of railway blacksmiths’ workshops turned world-class studio and events facility.

Audiences and photographers scrambled to capture moments as models paraded classic African collections. The AFI show brought people from all over the continent to come and witness what African talent can deliver and we are proud that we weren’t disappointed. This season saw new textures and embellishments make their debut.

Remember when we said we got you covered, here are some of the highlights and our favourites…

The shows took us on an indigenous journey with a touch of high fashion from each and every designer representing their country. Moroccan designer, Salima Abdel-Wahab gave the audience a taste of her culture. She showcased high fashion clothes inspired by threads.

Imprint’s Mzukisi Mbane is a local talent is one designer you need to know.  This showstopper designer made the crowd go wild with his designs. Mzukisi is known for his electrifying prints, and he makes  clothing and accessories that narrate the stories of our African ancestors. The fashion brand was created more than five years ago and I’m so glad to see it growing. It creates fashion-forward style pieces rooted in street wear and vintage influence. As the name suggests, we are happy to see it leave such an impression, an Imprint, on the audiences!

How can we not mention talented designer Nobukhosi Nkosi – known for her fashion brand Khosi Nkosi. We loved about these designs is that it incorporated all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter if you are tall, short, small or curvy. It celebrated all women.  These are the positive messages we need to be sharing with world. And to make it more exciting, Khosi Nkosi picked a curvy model to walk the runway and oh my Oyama stole the show… way to go girl!!!

For the first time, the AFI platform showcased a jewellery and accessory designer, Adele Dejak, from Kenya. Her designs are handcrafted, luxury fashion accessories – inspired by the continent, its tradition of adornment and its immense cultural heritage. Designer Adama Paris showed off all that West Africa has to offer with a collection that celebrates urban Senegal.

Other fashion designers that showed their collections included South African design favourites such as Laduma Ngoxolo for MaXhosa, Nicholas Couuts, Craig Port and Fashion Revolution.

Africa is blessed with a rich history of tradition and culture, and we are glad to have designers who try to incorporate all of this and keep the continent beaming with pride.