Gender fluidity. Hybrid identities. Creative political expression. These could all read as a strategically curated reel of dumped millennial buzzwords if not handled with the right level of consciousness, integrity and heart. For terms that can mean for much for so many, they can feel so impersonal when carelessly brandished without meaning, particularly by me-too brands and the media. Luckily, when it comes to Tolu Coker’s collection - this season’s Merit Award winning showcase - there is heart, there is meaning and, above all else, it is deeply personal.
As a unisex fashion brand centred around inclusivity, diversity and social responsibility, Tolu Coker’s ethos and ambition couldn’t be more relevant to now if it tried. But it’s genuine too, informed especially by her own dual identity as a Nigerian Londoner. This collection focused on reimagining black identity within a western context, and fuses icons of her heritage– think old family photographs, cultural prints and designs inspired by own father’s diary – with contemporary fabrics, youthful colour schemes and modern design.
It was loud, it was bold and it was vibrant. The collection felt like the wearer was able to carve out their own unique identity, without the enforced constraints of gender or politics. It was carefree as it clashed naval-exposed crop tops and 90s denim with Nigerian prints and braided hair. Recycled leather in vibrant colours, along with reused scraps of fabric and plastic on both male and female bodies, blurred lines and provided unexpected combinations that spoke to the endless possibilities and juxtapositions that make up each and every one of us.
Words: Camilla Hunt | Fashion Editor | @camillamcleanhunt
Images: Fashion Scout