T.I Nathan "finally sold out and went for money" - Edwin Okolo

Edwin Okolo reviews some collections fresh off the Heineken Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2016 and T.I Nathan's new collection get an interesting breakdown.

LFDW 2016 held on 26th through 29th October at the Federal Palace Hotel & Casino and fewer designers invited were the only ones who presented this year with more getting on board the X-Retail that made a comeback.

Edwin Okolo clearly unimpressed about T.I Nathan's collection presented on the runway sounded an undertone of the brand 'being more about the cash' now; "There comes a point in the career trajectory of every Nigerian menswear label where your aesthetic options become limited to your target market. There's the shallow pool of bespoke menswear where the money is plentiful but the slots are few, the alt fashion scene where the money is good and in foreign currencies but you will always remain an outlier and then there is athleisure, where the money is good but you will have to water down your brand.

This year at the 2016 Heineken Lagos Fashion and Design Week showcase, many will argue that Fashion Focus finalist and eponymous menswear label T.I Nathan finally sold out and went for the money.

But that wouldn't be true, not exactly. Anyone who has even cursorily followed T.I Nathan's career will tell you the designer has been open to exploring all the opportunities that menswear (and womenswear) will provide him. From bespoke suits in 2012, to the stellar 'Abiku' collection that won him the Fayrouz L'Original competition in 2014, to diffusion lines in 2015 and an experimental collection inspired by heartbreak, he has been far more experimental than most.

So to compare his SS17 collection to his previous work is to do it a disservice. Workmanship is the objective of label's cachet of legend tees and satin bomber jackets slung over shoulders and worn as makeshift skirts not innovation, an uncanny interpretation of the designer's own personal style. Spruced up with electric colours and textured jacquard pants, there are finer details that will be overlooked if you don't approach the collection with an open mind. Though it would be impossible to gloss over the abject lack of options or versatility with the looks, disappointing considering the tricks that the label has pulled out of its hat with previous collections. As appeasement perhaps, Mag Payne, T.I Nathan's longtime muse and stylist finally walked for the label.

Logically, it was only a matter of time before T.I Nathan delved into athleisure. With musicians like Korrede Bello and Y.Cee growing fanbases in the thousands of teenagers with disposable incomes desperate to ape their idol's personal style, the first designer to become the go-to label for Nigeria's new wave of 'stans' and the creatives they stan for will cash in, and massively too.

We might have to wait a few months to see it T.I Nathan's gamble pays off, but give it to him, it takes balls to show t-shirts on West Africa's biggest runway.

What do you think of T.I Nathan's showcase?

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