Forget all the memories of your Grandmother knitting in her rocking chair or long hours trying to perfect that Home Ec project – crotchet craftwork is back and in the most Uber-chic way. Fashion took a turn a few seasons ago with industry leaders introducing crochet into their collections; attracting fashion insiders with the intricate detailing and breezy feel.
But way before knitwear became Instagram worthy, Self-proclaimed Artisanal Crotcheter; Edwin Okolo had begun developing his natural liking for bringing an outfit to life straight from the source with crochet. Even though the process takes as long as 1 week to finish just one piece, his passion fuels the craft. He said:
I started designing because I loved the challenge of being able to literally create a dress from scratch.
“It is also why I chose knitwear as my medium and crochet as my preferred form of knitwear. I have been designing officially since 2012, but I had my first major collaboration which brought me into the collective consciousness of Nigerian fashion in 2015”
In this generation of new but fast-fleeting trends, designers are returning to the classics while drawing inspiration from the present. However, Edwin is particular about keeping the quintessential style of knitwear and not watering it down with trends. In fact, according to him, he does not consider trends at all when designing.
Crochet doesn’t even allow for trend-chasing because it drapes very specifically and as such trends that require unnatural geometry or volume end up looking wonky when you attempt them. I am a follower of the classic silhouette and a believer that your special pieces should remain relevant to your wardrobe after 20 years, trends are in conflict with that ideal.
His brand, Studio IMO is part of a two-man studio label that focuses primarily on offering bespoke clothing in knitwear and traditional tailoring to a small but aesthetically savvy client base which includes Adekunle Gold, Temi Otedola, Dakore Egbuson Akande among others.
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In conversation with BellaNaija Style‘s Mary Edoro, Edwin talks about the brand, designing, and his own personal style.
Favourite Part of Being a Fashion Designer
For me, that would be meeting a client who is a creative in an adjacent field and completely understands that as a knitwear designer, I am drawing from multiple influences to make a piece. They appreciate your work as art, and there is no better feeling.
Inspiration Behind the Designs
I am inspired by texture. Crochet as a design medium is very textural, as you are literally creating your fabric as you construct the dress. So I look online at what other crocheters have done, and I also look to architecture and traditional fashion design for inspiration on what I want to make next. Naturally occurring patterns are also a huge inspiration for me when I am designing.
To be honest all of them. Every piece I make is handmade, and as such, I become very attached to them, that said. I have a special place for the very first wedding dress I made.
Top Style Icons
Haha. Rihanna, obviously.
Frank Ocean because he understands whimsy
Giambattista Valli because who else can get away with making skirts that short
Yves Saint Laurent, because he challenged gender, not just for himself but for everyone.
Most memorable fashion moment
Rihanna at the 2017 Met Gala, no one else could have pulled off that Comme Des Garcon’s dress, and I doubt anyone else ever will.
Well, I would say my personal style leans towards gender non-conforming, which is not to be confused with androgyny. So anything goes. I like a little bit of whimsy when I dress, something that says this person understands not to take themselves too seriously.
A crop top and dungarees.
When He’s Not Busy Designing
I stay at home and read a book. If I have to go out I go to an art gallery and just immerse myself in the art.
Ice-cream and wool shopping.
“So many of us have gotten ourselves at the table, but we’re still too grateful to be at the table to really shake it up” – Michelle Obama
Read more inspiring interviews with other young African designers on the Millennial Designer Spotlight.