Bazaaaar Pop-Up Interview: Buki Akib
(Photo credit: Svenja Trierscheid)
Buki Akib is a Lagosian menswear designer, and we recently caught up with her to talk about style in Lagos, her favorite materials to knit, and what she's most excited to see at our Bazaaaar pop-up.
Hi Buki! Can you give our readers a little background on yourself?
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria. I grew up and studied in London. I studied fashion at Central Saint Martins in London, and I am currently living between Lagos and London.
Did you grow up knowing that you wanted to go into fashion design?
No, I always knew I was going to be an artist, which I feel I am. Fashion is just another medium I use to express my art.
How did you get your start as a designer?
I first enrolled in an illustration class at Central Saint Martins and a tutor advised me to try the fashion course, which I did, and it was there that I discovered knitting. It was a love and hate relationship, but I felt very connected to creating a fabric from just a ball of yarn. I was also assistant stylist during my studies at CSM. I really loved working on editorial shoots - they're a great space to be super creative.
What is the fashion like in your hometown of Lagos?
I have always said growing up in the city was an introduction to fashion. Lagosians take pride in what they wear. Our traditional clothes have such history and beauty.
Can you tell us a little bit about the clothing?
The Lagosian attire for Yoruba men (the southern tribe), where I'm from, usually consists of the Buba which is a box shaped shirt made out of cotton that will either hit shy of his hips or hang long to his knees; Sokoto, which are trousers that are usually quiet loose; and Agabada (this is the master piece): It's an oversized, flowing robe with wide arms and beautiful embroidery around the neck and chest area. This goes on top of the Buba shirt. All my collections are always inspired by the these simple silhouettes, textures and colors.
What are some of the techniques you use in your designs?
I work on the knitting machine and hand knit. I love mixing different colors of yarns to create luxurious fabrics. I have a technique where I use a contrasting type of yarn to apply on to the fabric I am knitting on the machine. (You need to really see it!) It's laborious but it looks so beautiful.
Are the patterns you work into your clothing traditional Nigerian prints? What about the materials you use?
Yes, it's called aso-oke. It's a hand-woven fabric that is woven on a small loom. The fabric is made out of cotton, silk and sometimes lurex.
Do you work closely with people in Nigeria to create your fabrics and clothing?
I work very closely with really talented weavers in Lagos. We try to develop and recreate this ancient technique.
What are some of your favorite materials to work with?
I love working with all materials, from tassels to waxed cords to lurex yarns. Give me anything and I will knit it.
What's been the most unique material you've knitted something out of?
For my AFEFE collection I knitted a wire shirt and mixed it with different color cotton yarns. It looks magnetic in the light.
BUKI AKIB AFEFE Teaser 2013 from BUKI AKIB on Vimeo.
Your clothing has been featured in numerous fashion shoots. Have you gotten to travel anywhere out of the ordinary because of that?
Last year I was part of an exhibition in Frankfurt and had a chance to drive down to Baden-Baden (south of Germany). The scenery there was just breathtaking.
What was it like there?
Baden-Baden scenery is beautiful because it's located in the northern foothills of the Black Forest so all you see is hills upon hills. We had driven onto this residential area upon a hill (we were lost) and that's where I saw the view. Very peaceful to look at, especially when you have a busy mind.
What's one thing you want people to think when they see your line?
What are you excited to see with the pop-up?
Unfortunately I can't be physically there, but just seeing all the artists' work is exciting. Of course the big treats are Theophilus London and Jagari Chanda.