MTN Lagos Fashion & Design Week Spring/Summer 2013: Kelechi Odu Takes the Nigerian Man to the South of France in the 1920s with Igbo References #Nigerianfashion

If there is one thing that became apparent during the recently completed MTN Lagos Fashion & Design Week, it had to be that there were some gems that we needed to pay attention to from Nigeria’s Fashion Industry. One such gem is emerging designer Kelechi Odu.

Resting on a solid design foundation, we particularly enjoyed his fresh and progressive spin on menswear. Now typically, we would not expect to find a monochromatic menswear collection on the runways in Nigeria, given the country and Africa’s love for colors. However, Odu swayed from the norm and managed to keep things interesting with the diversity of his designs, clean tailoring and minimalist approach.

In Odu’s head, the whole goal what he calls a “Villagetour” collection. Villagetour for him was a play on “villegiature” which he describes is “the grand holiday resort circuit in the South of France up till the 1920s.” He adds, “the form of the collection considers the casual formality of the 1920 seaside resort wear and the restrained exuberance of the Igbo ceremonial wear, infused with a jolt of the vibrant utility of surfwear.”

The reference to the 1920s is particularly interesting. During that decade, within Nigeria, there was a tension and disdain for alien rule and the stirrings and belief that Nigerians should govern themselves. Simultaneously, there was also an abandonment of traditional religions for Western religion (Christianity) and a push towards Western education on Western soil. That Odu’s collection fuses these two cultures together and provides a 1920s backdrop in the West for his fashion story, makes for a particularly interesting point of view.

Overall, a pragmatic and fresh collection, and a designer to watch.

-Uduak Oduok

-Photocredit: Kola Oshalusi/

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