While New York and Paris may have a reputation as the world's fashion capitals, we're here to fill you in on a secret: The fashion world is buzzing about Lagos. Nigeria's capital city is home to up-and-coming fashion lines like Maki Oh and Lisa Folawiyo and is host to its own annual fashion week. Add to all that the fact that the city is bursting with fashionable women who call it home.
To help you get a feel for Lago's unique sense of style, we talked to five trendsetting women based there. Each called out the vibrance and energy of the city, along with its toasty temperatures. Their recommendation: If you book a trip to Lagos, make sure not to forget sunglasses. Below, you'll find each woman break down her personal take on fashion along with what makes style in their city so unique. Expect no shortage of bright colors and warm-weather outfit ideas, just in time for spring stateside.
When it comes to describing style in Lagos, doctor and fashion blogger Cassandra Ikegbune calls out the city's love for all things colorful and quirky. "I believe that Lagosians are some of the most stylish people in the world, and it shows in how unafraid they are in standing out and pushing boundaries when it comes to fashion and personal style," she says. As for her personal style choices, Ikegbune has a secret: "If I'm being honest, most of my outfits are thrift buys," she reveals. "I like to describe my style as a fun mix, although tilting toward vintage and androgynous fashion." Ikegbune has a knack for mixing sporty staples like sneakers with fun prints and cool trend-forward pieces (yes, she's already pulling off the fanny pack like a pro).
"I mix and match but prefer to keep things classic," says Serbia Wilson, "or give it a more contemporary twist by paying attention to little details, cuts, patterns, footwear and accessories." The Lagos-based trendsetter has an Instagram feed bursting with cool (and colorful) outfit ideas. "Lagos weather is usually hot and humid, A/C can be very cool, and rain is tropical (heavy)," she notes. This means that for Wilson, comfort is always a factor when getting dressed. "[Traditional] dress has lots of modern fashionable interpretations and is usually cotton or silk and is looser, so it can be fun and comfortable to wear." While she notes that generally, women dress more conservatively in Lagos, there's no shortage of eye-catching prints and colors.
The three words fashion blogger Thonia Banks uses to describe her style: chic, unique, and adventurous. "I'm constantly trying out trends and basically taking fashion risks," she says. Living in Lagos, Banks notes that women tend to dress up, "'Lagosians, as we are fondly called, take fashion very seriously, and you will most likely see someone at the mall dressed like they're going for a red carpet event." But from one look at her Instagram, it's clear that Banks can just as easily pull off a dress and heels as she can a cool pair of jeans or sleek sneakers. While she calls out Lisa Folawiyo as her favorite Lagos-based designer, she notes that she tries to support all made in Nigeria brands whenever possible.
As the founder of the fashion development organization Designers Consociate, Zara Odu is an expert on Lagos fashion, noting she has "too many" favorite local designers, "Lisa Folawiyo, Bridget Awosika, Tsemaye Binitie, Kelechi Odu…" Odu's personal style is sleek but design-forward " I love classic pieces that have some sort of edge and appreciate detail that reveals an element of surprise." So it should come as no surprise that she lists Céline and Jacquemus among her favorite brands. Describing the scene in her hometown, Odu says, "Lagos is a meeting point for over 250 ethnic groups with a history of colonial influence. Therefore, our expression of style is eclectic and exciting!"
Bidemi Zakariyau boasts an impressive résumé, she's the founder of both the public relations agency LSFPR and website The Luxe Digest. Still, when it comes to what she wears, there's one thing that really matters. "My personal style is very simple. I love classic pieces, but, ultimately, comfort is the key thing for me. If I don't feel comfortable in something, I can't wear it." Zakariyau's Instagram feed is full of photos bursting with bright hues and polished fashion. "Style in Lagos is very colorful, fun and elegant. Nigerians, not just Lagosians, generally love to dress up; our traditional wear is very elegant and colorful across most tribes. We're very stylish people and very much on trend with fashion globally."