I was first introduced to the Ikiré Jones brand when Columbus’ co-founder of Mizzen + Main, Web Smith tweeted about having a few pieces in his store, late 2013. After reading more on the brain behind Ikiré Jones, it quickly went into my “must remember” archives.
Ikiré Jones is a menswear brand designed by Wale Oyejide. Oyejide holds many titles as a former hip-hop producer, afro-beat artist, lawyer and now designer.
"…none of us should try to bury who we really are." - Wale Oyejide
He blends West African and European influences, ensuring that his brand is not only fashionable but cultural; just take a look at the heritage section of the website. Oyejide’s choice to concentrate on the construction and quality of each piece is one of the reasons why I love this brand. Sweatshops and questionable labor practices don’t even belong in the same sentence as Ikiré Jones. Every jacket is man-made in either Brooklyn, NY or Philadelphia, PA with Oyejide handpicking every piece of fabric used and overseeing the design process.
This brand takes menswear to a completely different level. I love a man in a tailored suit but, these carefully curated vibrant blazers are amazing.
“This collection pays homage to 18th century textiles and tapestries while exploring the absence of persons of color in Medieval and Renaissance-era European art. Borrowing from the sampling method employed in hip hop culture, each reinvented piece tells an original narrative from the perspective of Africans who have been placed in an alien context. Through this reverse lens to the past, the present circumstances of individuals who feel displaced and alienated may also be considered.”
The styles above are from the Ikiré Jones Spring/Summer 2014 line. For more information, please visit the Ikiré Jones website.
I changed my hair. Little did I know, my choice in hairstyles had a winning effect on different individuals and this straight style LOST the majority vote. Almost immediately I received blank stares, “your bride price just dropped 60 points” and the most frequent question “seriously, when are you changing your hair back to normal?”[I had only had this hairstyle for four hours max] As hilarious as I viewed these reactions, they made me wonder if I truly was my hair. Whenever I wake up in the morning, I get to decide what clothes I’m wearing that day, if my eyebrows will be filled in or left in its natural state and how I will style my hair. No other person crosses my mind during this hour of preparation, but me.
When I first went natural in 2009, I wore my TWA [teeny weeny afro] for about an hour before I threw a curly half wig on and for the next two years, nobody, but my bedroom walls saw my real hair. I went through stages where I’d have various styles in one week or some twists that lasted a month, no issue. I thoroughly enjoyed having the ability to change my hair whenever I wanted. Changing my hair makes me feel FRESH + FREE. On any given day, I can look however I want and sometimes look unrecognizable, but I do not care.
Last year I adopted the crochet braid style and rocked this style TO.THE.GROUND. As much as I love big hair and the compliments they bring, it gets hot and some days, I just want to look different.
I confess, whenever I want to change my hair I ask one of my closest friends for their honest opinion because well, that’s what friends are for but, the reactions that I received from people that I have only known for a few months shocked me. They had already painted a picture of who I was in their head, and relaxed look just wasn’t it. I looked too “regular”. I was not mad at their remarks; I respected them because they have seen me in somewhat of my natural state, and they adore that more than the silky straight Nneji…I’m still not changing my hair though.
One thing that I learned over the weekend is this:
The validation of others will not be a leading factor in my life.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CHANGING YOUR HAIR? DOES IT DEFINE YOU?
I love when brands pay tribute to Africa in various ways. Whether it be clothing, photos, art or just highlighting the different facets of Africa, I’m all for it. One thing that I truly despise is when individuals or in this case, husband & wife duo Andrew and Micha Weir of South Africa take something extremely sensitive and twist it into something that, although is trying to seem positive, it’s just not working.
Maid in Africa is a design studio located in Cape Town, South Africa owned and operated by the Weir’s. They recently released a line of aprons,
slaving ironing board covers and corsets imprinted with the 1788 Brooks slave ship drawing [almost positive you’ve seen it before]. Maid in Africa began as a “philanthropic effort” to provide a HIV positive domestic woman an income when she lost her job. The use of ‘Maid’ was use to celebrate those that are often overlooked. "Our message is always to stay true and reflect the simple things that make Africa unique." CELEBRATE? Who said that these individuals wanted to be celebrated?
Hand wash in cold water - or ask the maid . REALLY?!?!! The level of ignorance that makes up this company is completely disgusting.
Major side-eyes not only to this brand but also for the powerhouses that are promoting them. How can sites like House + Leisure and Design In Daba promote such racist products masquerading as art? Every time I see the photo of the slave ship, I cringe. Nothing about the photo will ever bring a smile to my face and I don’t understand why Maid in Africa exists.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?