In the wake of his label’s hiatus, Kenneth Ize Fall/Winter 2023 collection emerges as one of his most intimate and groundbreaking works.
Delving into the cultural roots of Lagos, Nigeria, Ize challenges conventional notions of African luxury by crafting a collection from upcycled clothes, reflecting both environmental concerns and a celebration of local creativity.
After parting ways with his investor, Kenneth Ize returned to Lagos, immersing himself in the city’s vibrant markets and cultural scene. This experience prompted him to contemplate the detrimental impact of secondhand clothing imports on the African continent, particularly on local manufacturing and the environment. Inspired by younger Nigerians embracing resale fashion, Ize decided to create a collection using upcycled clothes to redefine African luxury.
In his quest for unique pieces, Ize explored open-air stalls and even stopped roadside sellers, eagerly collecting items to bring home and transform into something extraordinary. His creative process involved instinctively deconstructing and reconstructing garments, such as repurposing colorful scarves and ties or overdyeing clothes with tie-dye patterns. Ize’s signature Ouroboros motif, symbolizing renewal, became particularly significant as he embarked on this new journey.
Ize remarked on the spiritual nature of his creative process, noting, “It feels also very spiritual to work this way. It was just, like, having to just touch and feel again and go with your instincts truly.” His collection exudes an energetic, DIY aesthetic while also showcasing innovative takes on his signature woven fabrics, crafted with lighter, more affordable yarns.
Presenting his collection on the streets of Lagos served a dual purpose for Ize. As a queer individual living in Nigeria, where homosexuality remains illegal, he aimed to display his identity openly and proudly. Ize explained, “The styling of it is really, truly how people dress in Lagos. It’s how to mix and match, like accumulating things together, you know — what makes it so fun and what makes fashion here so incredible.“
Although Kenneth Ize’s collection showcases his deep connection to Lagos, he also expressed his desire to return to the Paris runway in the near future, saying, “I truly, truly miss my fashion family.” Until then, Ize remains committed to his vision of forward momentum, epitomized by the title of his Fall/Winter 2023 collection: “Backward Never, Forward Ever.“
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