At just 19-years-old, Nigerian-born designer Taofeek Abijako became the youngest designer to present a collection at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. On 11 July, Abijako held a presentation for his brand Head of State+‘s spring/summer 2019 collection, which paid homage to 70s afro-futurism styles and West African youth culture, Teen Vogue reports.
Head-of-State+ first caught the eye of the fashion community weeks after its official launch in 2016. The [then] 18-year-old Taofeek Abijako founded the unisex clothing brand which features a combination of printed t-shirts and some hand-painted numbers. The concept behind the brand was inspired by the song “Coffin for Head of State” by the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti, which touches on the corruption of the church and government in Nigeria where Taofeek grew up before relocating to America.
According to The New York Times Style Magazine, Japanese luxury retailer United Arrows found his self-produced lookbook on Twitter and began stocking the brand shortly after. The following year, The New York Times Style Magazine labeled Head of State+ a “brand to watch”.
The brand’s latest offering, entitled Genesis, is the fourth collection from Abijako whose father, Nureni Abijako, is also no stranger to the world of fashion. Genesis reflects the high-end streetwear aesthetic Abijako has been exploring since its inception, and featured light trucker jackets, white tailored pants, and fitted knitwear. Speaking to the CFDA, Abijako explained, “Genesis is the translation of Afro-futurism portrayed by the likes of Parliament-Funkadelic and Sun Ra through the lens of West African youth – while at the same time celebrating the vibrancy of West African youth culture in the ‘70s and drawing parallels to modern time.”
Abijako also has a penchant for painting which he weaves into his fashion design. The 19-year-old raised funds for his fashion projects by hand painting sneakers and selling them online. His sneakers rose to prominence when The Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg posted a pair of Abijako’s custom Vans on Instagram. His use of colour and minimalistic designs to pass social commentary is also evident in the clothes the young designer produces.