Meet Wekafore, the Brand Building a Glorious African Future
words by Sarah Osei
The Spirit Don't Die
The story of our collaboration with Wekafore is all in the clothes. Two brands coming together with a shared Afrofuturistic reflection on our heritage. If the name Wekafore is new to you, then consider this a timely introduction to one of the most exciting African minds in the fashion world.
Lagos-born Wekaforé Maniu Jibril tells us he founded his namesake label when he was 16. “In the beginning, I was a bit lost... Not out of ideas, but out of options, I was in a very limiting moment in life and I had to make something out of whatever and where I was. I started by redesigning clothes and it grew from there. The brand has always been a depiction of my ideas and growth in that sense.” But even before a teenaged Wekaforé started tinkering with clothes, fashion and the knowledge of style as a power was already firmly rooted in his psyche.
“My introduction to fashion came from my granddad, who was a village tailor [...] and then my mother’s textile business, but I really got into the technical part of it when my dad started teaching me how to do his laundry and iron his clothes,” he explains. “For [my father] to pay so much attention to the clothes – like ‘hey, you need to make this pleat when you iron’ – that made me realise, ‘Oh, then this must be part of the masculine presentation that makes him the man that he is.’” The message was clear: Clothes communicate your identity to the world.
As the brand has evolved, now based in Spain, much of what Wekafore does is tell a glorious side of Black culture that is often forgotten or overlooked, breaking out of the colonialist structures and instead employing images and motives of a thriving African future. “Unknowingly or involuntarily, the clothes have become very sentimental to me, very personal. So as I learned about my position in the world and what I want to communicate, naturally it started becoming like a propaganda machine. And my idea is I want to make propaganda for Pan-African thinking.”
It’s within this “militant African design thinking” that Wekaforé says his world collides with Daily Paper’s. “I always kept an eye on [Daily Paper’s] work, because there’s that connection in our philosophies.” And once the idea of a collaboration was proposed mid-pandemic “sharing the same consciousness or mission made it easy to set base.”
“The first thing we agreed on was Fela.” The designer reveals the collection is heavily indebted to the Nigerian music icon Fela Kuti and his era of Afrofunk. “Like Fela, the pieces are very punk, very psychedelic, and very African at the same time. And that represents me 100%. And I think being able to speak that way through a platform like Daily Paper is a testament to contemporary African consciousness.”
As the collection drops on what would have been Fela’s 83rd birthday, Wekafore and Daily Paper exalt a freedom of African expression and creativity he pioneered. As Wekaforé puts it, “If we're talking about Fela, the reason I'm here doing this is because like many young Africans I got attracted to his spirit and it has evolved into where I am today. The blueprint Fela and that whole era laid for us… The Spirit Don’t Die.”
The Daily Paper x Wekaforé collaboration is now available online and in Daily Paper flagship stores in Amsterdam, London, and New York.