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Founded by Nigerian-American designer Niyi Okuboyejo, Post-Imperial is a fusion of bright modernity and traditional techniques. “The Post-Imperial aesthetic is a colorful and vibrant ode to new forms of fashion. It carries a strong sense of optimism for the future,” combining traditional African artisanship with contemporary diasporic existence.
Their latest collection, That Time I Wanted to be Seen, is inspired by the shared internal desire to be seen in one way or another at some point in our lives. It takes inspiration from a variety of African cultures and traditions, from West-African percussion instruments to traditional Massai jewelry, as well as aspects of American identity, like the Greater Refuge Temple, “which stands as a religious pillar in the Harlem community.”
Okuboyejo draws greatly on his Nigerian roots. Using traditional African techniques and textiles, the clothes are crafted by African artisans and many fabrics are dyed using Adire, a traditional Yoruba resist dye technique developed in south-western Nigeria. Central to the label, also, is the tradition of mythology, collective stories that are shared among and contributed to by our community.
Through putting community and collective storytelling at the center of the brand, Post-Imperial moves beyond having a single narrative at the center of creation, instead embodying mythology. “[Narrative] is ego-centric. It’s you wanting to grab some sort of power, you wanting to tell the story. [Mythology] is more of a community… Everyone has participated in this story, so it becomes a story that is embodied in them.” Post-Imperial’s approach represents a decentering of the individual in a traditionally individualistic artform.
The label is unlike others in the mainstream with its unique and humanising approach to design. It puts collaboration at the forefront of the creative process, and in so doing, works the complexities and nuances of dismantling power structures into Post-Imperial creations. There’s also an optimistic, future-facing ethos that features in much of African and diasporic creation.
“Post-Imperial is the embodiment of collaborative storytelling. We are all mythmakers. Let’s make myths together.”