The Nigerian designers Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie loves

Updated 25th May 2017
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The Nigerian designers Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie loves
Written by Phoebe Parke, CNN
Acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has launched a "Wear Nigerian" campaign, for which she'll wear mostly Nigerian brands for her public appearances in a bid to support local designers.
"In the past few weeks, I've bought more Nigerian brands than I ever have in the past," she wrote on her Facebook page.
"I've discovered new names. I've been filled with admiration for the women and men running their businesses despite the many challenges they face.
"I'm particularly interested in 'inward-looking' brands, those for whom dressing Nigerian women is as important as other goals."
Her outfits are being documented on an Instagram page managed by her nieces, Chisom and Amaka.
Here are six of the brands Chimamanda is wearing, and the stories behind them.
Courtesy Fashpa
Ready-to-wear label Fashpa (an abbreviation of Fashion Parade), sells pieces online that are made exclusively in Lagos.
Honey Ogundeyi, a former Googler and ex McKinsey consultant, started the brand in 2013 with the goal of offering consumers quality, variety and convenience.
Style tips from Chimamanda
Style tips from Chimamanda
"We were pleasantly surprised to see Chimamanda in one of our pieces on SKY news," Ogundeyi told CNN.
"We had no idea she had purchased them. She is such an inspiration and a muse for us, it's beyond brilliant to think she has a Fashpa piece now in her wardrobe.
"This is not only a huge boost for us - a young brand, but for the industry and for the #BuyNigeriantoGrowTheNaira movement especially as we continue to work hard to build a viable brand despite local challenges."
Courtesy Kosol Onwudinjor
Rukky Ladoja and Obida Obioha started Grey to bring affordable ready-to-wear clothes to the Nigerian market, and regularly exhibit at fashion shows in London and Lagos.
Adichie bought several pieces from Grey's Spring/Summer 2017 collection, a series of pieces inspired by traditional Yoruba queens and their support systems.
"Adichie found us," the pair, whose store is in Ikoyi Mall, Lagos State, told CNN.
"Thank God she did. she looks amazing in our pieces and truly embodies the strength and character of the Grey muse."
Launched in 2015, this brand is the vision of Ifeyinwa Azubike, a commercial lawyer and design lover with a store in Victoria Island, Lagos.
"Chimamanda captures the very essence of the The Ladymaker woman," Azubike told CNN. "A lady who is cerebral, confident, warm and fully embraces and cherishes her heritage,"
Ladymaker got the chance to dress Adichie when a Lagos boutique called Zinkata, that already stocked the brand, requested some custom pieces for the author.
Sisters Ngozi and Chika Okafor started TNL Designs, short for Things Nigerians Love, in 2013 to fill a gap in the market. They could only find Nigerian clothes made of native fabric (Ankara), or overpriced imported clothes from countries such as China and Turkey, so decided to make their own.
"At that time, we were very worried that people would be skeptical about wearing clothing with a label that was new to them and that was Nigerian," the duo told CNN.
Operating out of an office in Ajah, Lagos, and selling the clothes online, the pair were shocked when they saw Adichie in their designs.
"We have no idea how Chimamanda got our clothes! We have tried to investigate this but nothing has come up.
"When we saw her wearing the first item, we immediately rushed and looked through our orders list for her name but it wasn't there.
"We also contacted several of our stockists and they have no record of her shopping with them. She just found us and we are elated that she did."
When Bolutife Ajayi quit her 9 to 5 in 2011 and traveled to London to attend the London College of Fashion, she had no idea that her fashion label Tife would be born five years later.
But Ajayi's training began years before; "My grandmother who remains my greatest inspiration was very fashionable," explains Ajayi. "She owned a fabric store and that exposed me to colors, texture, styling and dress making."
Ajayi moved back to Lagos to start Tife in 2016, while working with The Lagos Fashion and Design Week production team and the Nigerian brand, Fashpa, but nothing could prepare her for an order from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
"We got an order from our Instagram, but we didn't know it was her," Ajayi told CNN. "In fact the customer service representative mistakenly gave her the wrong quote but when we called to inform her, she didn't make a fuss, just paid the balance and sent her driver to pick up her order."
Courtesy Moofa Designs
It was not until Moofa Designs founder Yinka Aro-Lambo saw Chimamanda in her clothes on Instagram that she realized the author had bought from her.
"A client contacted us after going through our Instagram page, Olayinka told CNN. "She sent in pictures of some of the pieces she loved, and said she wanted something nice for her friend.
"She did not say who it was, she only sent in measurements to get the piece ready for her. It was only after Chimamanda posted the picture of herself wearing it that we realized she was the friend."