Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Kenneth Izedonmwen


Kenneth Izedonmwen is the Viennese designer behind the Lagos, Nigeria based gender-neutral label Kenneth Ize. In 2015, he graduated with his MA (he studied under Hussein Chalayan) from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. But before graduating, he launched the first attempt of his label in 2013, where he created collections working with weavers and artisans across Nigeria. "I just wanted it right then!" Ize remembers. "I wanted to have my brand as soon as I found my aesthetic." He presented an impressive Spring/Summer 2014 show at Lagos Fashion Week. His designs focused on merging a contemporary aesthetic and new production skills with the Nigerian handcraft practices.

He's had a showroom in Paris for his Spring/Summer 2019, has a current base in London, a slot at Arise Fashion Week in Lagos, and stockists in Vienna, Switzerland, and Nigeria. Ize is among an outflowing of Nigerian designers at the forefront of this African fashion boom. Ize said, "We already have a lot of quality coming out of Africa, so it's about further introducing the African luxury product to the wider world. It's not necessarily what we are doing that will change the industry further; it's where we now take it and how we take it there. And it will happen, we are getting great exposure right now, especially with the help of the internet."

He did a lot of research that inspired the Fall/Winter 2019-2020 Collection which he submitted to LVMH to take part in the competition for the LVMH Prize. The craftswoman he calls "the Queen bee" who now oversees the small studio in Lagos where many of his textiles are being developed, in the beginning, connected him with local artisans and he immediately began collaborating with them to design his own vibrantly colored and thoughtfully printed fabrics. He is producing fabrics on wooden looms in the same time-honored way that has been done for centuries. It takes about eight or nine hours for a two-yard strip to be created; the average coat requires three of those pieces. This mesmerizing handwoven fabric is known as Aso Ake which when roughly translated from Yoruba, means "top cloth," and it was traditionally a status symbol reserved for the most special occasions. This signature fabric is what makes Ize's softly tailored designs practically heirlooms.

Right now, Izedonmwen is genuinely having a moment by inspiring future traditions, and it is impressive to watch how fast his rise in the fashion world has been. He has said that what he is doing is "not a mass product" and is a "celebration of traditional African culture techniques" and because of this, it has become one of his signatures. I know the LVMH Prize will not be the last we see of Ize due to his creative perspective on luxury production within textiles and fashion.

Explore his collection

Coats, jackets, dresses, skirts, shorts and more.

Follow Kenneth on Instagram

Explore other LVMH 2019 finalists

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