2018’s already been a hell of a year for Walé Oyéjidé. After several high-profile red carpet placements with Chadwick Boseman and director Ryan Coogler, the designer’s Ikiré Jones collection is set to make its big-screen debut in Marvel’s “Black Panther.” The visionary was even tapped to create a custom look in homage to the film which debuted during a star-studded NYFW event on February 12th and will be auctioned off to Save The Children this month.
The designs for ‘Black Panther’ connect art from our distant history with the ever-evolving culture of our progressive present.
Celebrated for his dedication to empowerment and individualism through fashion, it was only right that the Philly-based, Nigerian- born designer and TED fellow (check out his 2017 Ted Talk in Tanzania here) would be tapped for the epic film. “Like much of my work, the designs for ‘Black Panther’ connect art from our distant history with the ever-evolving culture of our progressive present,” he explains. “These pieces are an announcement of who we are as a people and where we intend to go.”
But don’t get it twisted, Walé’s no new kid on the block. The Morehouse grad and former attorney launched his brand in 2013, the moniker is a fusion of his father’s village in Nigeria and his wife’s American name. Pieces from his stunning “Born Between Borders” collection appear in the forthcoming blockbuster. Printed jackets, suits and scarves serve as visual manifestations of the hopes and fears of immigrant children who carry the dreams and burdens of their parents, while navigating the cultural spaces in between.
Here, Walé shares insight on the creative process for this collection. Check out the stunning visuals below, then shop the pieces at ikirejones.com.
THE COLLECTION NAME:
“Born Between Borders”
“I wanted to put an elegant face on the immigrant experience. In western media its rare for people of foreign descent to be displayed in a positive light. There are tropes that we are well familiar with. The comedic store owner. The emasculated student. And of course, an all American favorite when concocting foreign born boogie men, The Terrorist. By now, all of us are well aware of these images, and we have become bored of them. My work as a designer is a continuing effort to rebrand the idea of immigrants in America and the western world.”
We are the children of engineers that drove your taxis. We are the sons of surgeons that served your tables and we are the daughters of diplomats that held open your elevator doors in spite of their genius.
Creative Direction: Walé Oyéjidé
Photography: Rog Walker
Make-Up: Patrice Worthy
Models: Kama Hosten, James Jean, Jeremiah Nvamah, Patricia Kissi-Nvamah, Stephen Obisanya Evan Rossi and Patrice Worthy
“Story telling is why I’m here. Clothing just happens to be my current medium for preaching my perception of the gospel. I’m a devout believer in making work that has a purpose or seeks to affect change. There is enough frivolous art out there and I don’t believe in wasting anyone’s time by asking them to look at work that doesn’t actually say anything.”
“Ikiré Jones is a design brand that threads the needle between the cultural and contemporary by marrying African inspired textiles with classic European art.”
THE BIG BREAK:
“After several seasons of us releasing consistently strong and culturally relevant work, people that are aware of Ikiré Jones have a firm grasp of what the brand is about and what it stands for. A representative for ‘Black Panther’ contacted us because they had seen us develop over time and thought we would be a good fit for the project. From a creative standpoint, it was a logical marriage. Many of the themes seen in the film (a progressive view of the African continent, sophistication intertwined with traditional aesthetics, and pride in one’s heritage) are the same ones that Ikiré Jones champions in its work.”