How Maki Oh Introduced the World to Nigerian Fashion


This is a story about a shy and kept genius who always seems distracted and looking intently at something far away – an artist who has the city of Lagos as her muse and draws inspiration from the people around her. Her fashion line can be explained as a new dawn for women’s freedom and as a protest against the colonial, controlling culture of Nigeria. If it is still not clear, we are talking about the Nigerian fashion mogul, Amaka Osakwe, who is the designer behind the fashion line that goes by the name of Maki Oh.

Maki Oh is mainly a womenswear label that has secured its place in the global runways. This is the story of the success of this brand and its designer Akama Osakwe since their debut in 2010.

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The Beginning

Osakwe had to go against the flow from a very early stage, as she wanted to study fashion when her peers were going for engineering or med school as per their parent’s biddings. It took quite a bit of convincing before she was able to convince her parents to allow her to go to Oxford to learn about fashion and then to Bournemouth for a fashion program.

It is there that she was inspired to work with her own heritage and Nigerian culture.

In 2010, she returned home and started her own venture, fighting against the Nigerian economy. She was deeply fascinated by the adire technique and learned about it from experts like Nike Davies-Okundaye.

Her first collection was released that year; it was inspired by an ethnic Ghanaian tradition known as dipo.

How Maki Oh Introduced the World to Nigerian Fashion

Global Success

Osakwe’s bold designs and themes that the female form went against the traditional norms of Nigeria. These designs received a mixed reception at first, but whoever understood the deeper meaning behind the designs and understood the African themes were very attracted to them.

She got positive responses to her work globally. She got international limelight at New York fashion week in 2012. According to her, only risk-takers were able to get on board with what she created, given how heavily it was influenced by African culture.

Ever since then, Maki Oh has been worn by big names like Beyoncé, Lupita Nyong’o, Thandie Newton, Azealia Banks, Alek Wek, and many more. Michelle Obama also wore Maki Oh on an occasion and has invited Osakwe to the White House.

How Maki Oh Introduced the World to Nigerian Fashion

Bottom Line

Amaka Osakwe has a deep passion for the female form and seduction. She designs her clothes using these as a theme to reflect what it is to be forward and expressive in Nigeria. Her designs flawlessly promote West African culture. Every step of the Maki Oh productions takes place in Nigeria to preserve local traditions. Osakwe makes sure that her clothes express her race, culture, and class, which are featured in the AW2015 and SS2017 collections.