The place to Explore Benin and its Culture
Beninese people love to be fashionable. One can immediately witness the variety of fashion styles and vibrant prints when looking around. In Benin, your clothing attire is a representation of who you are or in some case, who you aspire to be. You must look good and dress well. Even though westernized clothing can be seen on locals, they usually tend to be mixed with an African Print or motifs.
For example, a man can be seen wearing a pair of jeans with an African Printed shirt or a woman can wear a T-shirt that has been embroidered with African prints or accessories. In some cases, Westernized design will be replicated using only African Prints. It’s a huge contrast as the African Print Fabrics are bold in colors where as regular fabrics used to tailor a western design are very neutral in color tone. So in some cases, you can see a full man suit made using traditional menswear pattern but tailored using an African printed cloth.
There are many fashion designers that are emerging in Benin. However, there is one in particular whose fame and sucess has made it to an international level quite quickly. The brand name is Olowou Print. Olowou Print is a local fashion brand created by a Beninese buisiness woman, Salmata Yèmi Akobi. Ms. Akobi started the brand making women clothing by using local handmade fabrics and adorning her designs with custom handcrafted accesories made with iron, cooper, wood and recyclable materials. Olowou brand philosophy is to promote local upscale fashion by solely adopting everything and everyone from the Benin. Therefore, the cotton used is grown, hand processed and dyed by men and women in Benin. She designs the patterns of her collections but, with the help of local talents, her designs come to fruition. To ensure quality and perfection, designer Ms. Akobi self-inspects each item made. She takes pride in her line and wants each piece made to be and look the best possible way. There is no room for error in the her mind. Everything must be impeccable.
The brand started as a women clothing line but, due to popular demand, the brand extended to men fashion, kid fashion, accessories and home goods. Her most popular fashion lines are women fashion as well as accessories.Ms. Akobi, a woman with curves, understands what works to enhance, accentuate and flatter a woman’s body. She also use geometric design to place them strategically in the fabric patterns and designs in order to create a very unique and cool illusion.
For her Jewelry line, she uses natural materials such as ebony woods or an animal horns. She makes stunning super tiny glassbeads necklaces that are strung one by one by hand, accessorized with usually an ebony wood piece and finished with a copper cluster on the back. It doesn’t do any justice speaking of her creations. Seeing and touching it is where the love story with this outstanding and promising African Fashion brand begins.
From an interview with Salmata Yèmi Akobi, she said:
“My goal for Olowou Print is for each piece to be unique. I am not interested in mass producing.None of my piece are replicated twice. They may look similar but, there is always something different in each one of them. I do that by changing embroideries, prints, accessories or patterns. We are all unique being so should be what you wear”
In addition to being a rising Beninese designer, Ms. Salmata is every environmentally conscious. As part of her mission statement collected from her website, she said:
“Each person has to be concerned with the preservation of nature and above all, not play a part to the degradation of the environment in which we live and with our children’s future in mind. For that reason, I use a lot of recycled materials that have been the recovered and processed from discarded objects in nature.”
Olowou Print has been invited to showcase her collections alongside top African fashion designers such as Alphady, The King of African Fashion as well as major Fashion events and festival in Africa such as the FESMMA, Les Follies de la Mode in Burkina Faso and soon to come, The annual Afrik Fashion Show that is set to take place on Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
In addition, Olowou Print was the featured guest invited by the Embassy of Benin in The United States to showcase a special exhibit during the Africa Leaders Summit. The exhibit took place in Washington DC on August 2014 and she was recognized by Benin Ambassador, Omar Arouna, for her contribution to Benin as Beninese Fashion Designer. During the 3 days exhibit, she drew thousands of people to check her lines and gained strong interest from American boutiques owners to curate and represent fashion brand in The United States.
During a private showroom held in Paris last summer, Olowou Print attracted a crowd of long distance fans who couldn’t wait to get their hands on unique pieces from her line. One of them, an influential French bloggers named Jordane of Á L’aurore Je Suis Née , is known to frequently feature pieces from Olowou Print in some of her Fashion articles.
As demand from various parts of the World increases, it doesn’t seem there will be a stop on the momentum Olowou Print has created anytime soon. The brand is set to launch an online shopping store in The United States this winter and is in the process of opening a store in New York City.
What truly sets Olowou Print apart from not only being a 100% Beninese fashion brand but, also as an African fashion brand is the the thought process put towards it concept and philosophy. As a woman, I find Ms. Salmata Yemi Akobi to be an admirable and inspirational. She is a proud Beninese woman and African that wants to elevate the beauty nation, it people. culture. She is the Amazon of Beninese fashion
So here are 10 best reasons to support Olowou Print:
Bottom line, it is safe to say that Olowou Print is the new emerging and rising African Fashion brand whose continual growth is unstoppable.Get your own unique piece today and see what the raves are all about.It makes a perfect gift whether it’s for you or someone else.