Thursday, February 29, 2024

Nigerian designer seeks to challenge norms with gender-fluid fashion

A Nigerian designer is making waves in fashion with a gender-fluid clothing line, which he says is intended to challenge the notion that non-binary dressing is a Western concept and to defy societal norms in a country where LGBT rights are restricted.

Adeju Thompson, founder of the Lagos Space Programme brand, designs clothing that transcends traditional gender boundaries, drawing inspiration from his African heritage and personal experiences.

One of Thompson's collections was partly informed by Gelede masquerades, a Yoruba custom where men don traditional female attire in an homage to matriarchy. Thompson hopes incorporating such elements into his work can help highlight gender fluidity in Nigeria's history.

His brand has found success abroad, with pieces stocked in stores across North America, Europe and Asia.
"In Nigeria being queer isn't something that is accepted," Thompson said in an interview. "I am just expressing myself as a designer, and through my work highlight that these ideas aren't Western constructs."

Thompson joins a growing number of Nigerian designers who are seeking to create new spaces for non-binary self-expression.

Thompson said he hopes his designs will spark an "alternate African narrative" that celebrates diversity and challenges traditional views on gender and identity.

(This story has been corrected to remove the reference to Thompson's work struggling in Nigeria in paragraph 4, and to clarify context in paragraphs 3 and 6) 

By Sanni Kazeem and Vining Ogu, Reuters 

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