WafflesNcreaM Of Jomi Marcus-Bello Enroles Nigerian ‘Aso Ebi’ Into The Popular Culture

A Nigerian boy models the Aso Ebi collection as to portray the indigenous culture of the Nigerian Fashion. (Photo: WafflesNcream)

Celebrating all varieties of love in the most unusual of ways through a very common Nigerian theme, that’s what the 29-year-old founder of Wafflesncream (Nigerian Skate Brand), Jomi Marcus-Bello based his skate brand’s new capsule collection on. 

The purpose behind Wafflesncream’s capsule collection is all about paying tribute to people, in Nigeria and Africa who do not get their love placed and celebrated as the mainstream. Marcus-Bello says: “A lot of people have never been to the West, but they know what Western love feels like, I feel like a lot of Africans try to mimic that and the love that happens here doesn’t translate to popular culture.”

Marcus-Bello depicts and highlights not just the love but a cultural affiliation very much attached to the Nigerian Fashion Collection which is the aso ebi or “family cloth”. To Marcus-Bello, is at the center of the African love.  Aso ebi has always been a vital part of the Yoruba life style, used in life events, such as a wedding or a birthday party, call for guests to buy an aso ebi—akin to a dress code or uniform in the West. The whole idea of the aso ebi not only depicts and demonstrates solidarity as an act of love for those celebrating but also shows an expression of individuality.

In a bid to pay tribute to this diversified West love, Marcus-Bello and his friend Fadekemi Ogunsanya, a 24-year-old artist and architecture student in London designed their own type of aso ebi and Fadekemi came up with the design, which is a black and white photograph of a couple, bordered by a stamp from colonial Nigeria. The designs were got modeled by couples and Logo Oluwamuyiwa, a Nigerian photographer known for his monochromatic images of the streets of Lagos, to shoot them. 

The idea of the monochromatic scheme on the picture is an idea of Stephen Tayo, the Lagos stylist and photographer who shot the brand’s campaign and the monochromatic effect according to Ogunsanya was to give it a timeless look as he says: “I wanted everything in it to be timeless, that’s why everything is black and white; there is no way you can pin it to a specific time and a specific trend.”

The launch of the capsule collection took place coincidentally on the 14th of February in Lagos was tied to an event at Alara, the concept store designed by David Adjaye, and the theme was based on a wedding, but instead of celebrating a typical union, the brand honored and focused on love as a concept—and the aso ebi from the collection was a sort of invitation.

The party gave the opportunity for many to gather despite the harsh times since the city banned okadas and keke (“motorcycles” and “bicycles,” respectively), and it featured poetry reading and a performance by Cavemen, a highlife fusion band started by two brothers. There were also drummers who customarily welcome and bid farewell to guests during Nigerian weddings to add some fun.

“It’s important to reflect and acknowledge how we love, it’s not all the same story, and if you are only seeing one way of doing something, you might think that what you’re getting is wrong, but it’s just your context.” Ogunsanya said.