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Tunde Owolabi’s vision for Ethnik: make the traditional art of Aso Oke accessible to style-conscious fashion consumers
around the world.
'Photo courtesy of Ethnik by Tunde Owolabi’

From Artist to Designer

Based in Lagos, Nigeria is a colourful footwear and bags brand called Ethnik, established in 2015. Founder, Creative Director, owner and head designer, Tunde Owolabi; is also a respected artist and photographer. Before delving into the world of fashion, Tunde started his career in graphic design and art.

Sustainable and Ethically Produced Fashion

Ethnik’s design philosophy is centred around creating sustainable and ethically- produced fashion accessories that evoke the beauty and exuberance of his Nigerian culture. From statement- making sneakers to bold bags, each handcrafted piece has been constructed with care and attention to detail by local artisans.
'Photo courtesy of Ethnik’
'Photo courtesy of Ethnik by Tunde Owolabi’

Keeping a 100 Year Old Tradition Alive

To maintain authenticity and tradition, Owolabi works with traditional Aso Oke weavers in Ogun state, Nigeria, to produce his unique fabrics ‘the way it has been done over hundreds of years’. Owolabi is driven by the desire to showcase his native Yoruba culture, preserve his heritage and produce accessories in Nigeria for the trend-savvy international customer.

Traditional Nigerian Aso oke Fabric Weaving

Fast-forward 5 years down the line, the successful Ethnik label has received much acclaim for its use of the ancient Yoruba weaving technique - Aso Oke (directly translated as “top cloth”) in many of his pieces. The centuries-old design tradition is one that is passed down from generation to generation, and as the name suggests, the fabric has traditionally been used to create garments for special occasions.
'Photo courtesy of Ethnik by Tunde Owolabi’
'Photo courtesy of Ethnik by Tunde Owolabi’

The Multi-Hyphenate Creative

Much like his art and photography, Owolabi also sees Ethnik as a medium for storytelling, exemplified through his use of colours, patterns, and beautifully woven fabrics, to narrate his story of Yoruba 'Top Cloth' to the world.

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