EBELE AND CHIAMAKA OJECHI HAVE WOVEN TIGHT A CONNECTION BETWEEN THEIR FASHION BRAND AND CULTURE.
In times like this, I want to really caption my story “What a man can do, a woman can do better”.
23-year-old Ebele and Chiamaka Ojechi ( @chiandebs // @bele.bele.bele) who are greatly inspired by their Nigerian and British heritage released a debut COLLECTION “AREA BOYS” under the design label bëlë; is a high-end streetwear designer to keep our radar on. It graced the runway during London’s fashion week in the fall of 2016 and has since been featured on major platforms like Vogue.
Inspired by their Nigerian roots, specifically their family’s photo albums from the ’70s. “There were amazing pictures of guys wearing these wide-sleeved kaftans, I’d never seen anything like them before,” Ebele explains. “They were the style that affluent Nigerians would wear in the ’70s and ’80s and when I saw them I knew I wanted to translate those shapes into sportswear.” www.vogue.com
Breaking boundaries feels like a theme black women everywhere are running with, feels almost like they have a WhatsApp group they communicate on. Streetwear and even street style photography is a male dominated sector in the fashion and media industry; by this simple yet deliberate act, the twins have opened the doors for other young women. Needless to say, their designs and all of her pieces are nothing short of art.
“The brand is all about mixing African and British cultures, so you’ll notice twists like the heritage corduroy panels and the British youth slogans,” says Ebele. “I wanted it to evoke feelings of nostalgia for different people and feel like there was a story beyond just wearing another logo.”
With the exponential rate at which the creative industry is expanding and growing, with creatives of all forms instilling a habit of inculcating their diverse African cultures aesthetically into their works; I think our forefathers can now sit back and stop worrying about ways to preserve the African culture. It now is unlike before, a thing of great joy for Africans both home and n diaspora to be proudly African.
“Growing up in London has had a massive influence on my perspective, I actually didn’t realize how much so until recently. As London is a mixing pot of many different cultures, growing up here has taught me how to combine various cultural influences into one work of art. For example, in London you’ll often see Muslim boys wearing their traditional thobe with a Nike puffer coat, some sick Nike trainers and a man bag. I’ve always loved that! The way they mix their religious attire with the typical wears of London youth; you can tell so much about their identity by just looking at them. Seeing things like that on a daily basis has definitely shaped the way I design. With BËLË I wanted to explore how I could represent my identity in this way.”
With the favourite African artists as Chinua Achebe (Nigerian Author), Malick Sidibe (Malian Photographer) and Yagazie Emezi (Nigerian-Malaysian Illustrator and photographer); these girls are definitely headed for the top. See some pieces from their latest collection below: