LVMH Prize Finalist - Kenneth Ize
Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize is renowned for his celebration of African tradition in his designs. A finalist for 2019 LVMH prize, the eponymous label was created by Ize just three years ago. The label has come a long way since, earning support from celebrities like Naomi Campbell, Beyoncé, Imaan Hammam and Donald Glover.
Ize, who was born in Lagos, has worked with hand-woven Nigerian textiles in the past and has even created his own fabrics, authentically incorporating and preserving his cultural heritage within the very fiber of his work. Ize then grew up in Austria and studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, drawing additional inspiration from his time spent in Europe. “My experiences of growing up in Nigeria, and then living and schooling in Austria, definitely shows forth in my work. You’ll find a juxtaposition of European and African influences in my collections,” says Ize in his exclusive chat with office. Read more below.
What’s one childhood memory that you constantly tap into as a source of inspiration?
That’s the source of the Kenneth Ize inspiration-we are contantly telling personal stories about past and present times.
What sense of responsibility comes along with designing (if any at all)?
There’s a responsibility to sustain the local communities that are producing these pieces, a responsibility to maintain and properly portray the Nigerian heritage through our designs, and finally, a responsibility to create pieces that evoke an appreciation for Nigerian crafts.
Describe the significance of hand-weaving local materials and what that signifies for overall character of the brand?
Kenneth Ize is devoted to merging contemporary design aesthetics with local traditional crafts and artisanship. Our handwoven pieces are one way we’ve set out to achieve this.
How has your cross-cultural exposure manifested throughout the clothing you’ve created?
My experiences of growing up in Nigeria and then living and schooling in Austria definitely shows forth in my work. You’ll find a juxtaposition of European and African influences in my collections.
Top 3 designers (dead or alive)?
Miguel Adrover, Wendy Jim, Folashade Thomas-Fahm.
What’s one convention that you hope to challenge with your brand?
That it is possible to do anything you want to do and become whoever you wish to be, be it in Africa or wherever else you find yourself.
Describe your brand as a three-course meal (appetizer, entree and dessert).
Goat rolls, Orange Fish in Coconut and Palm Oil Broth, Deconstructed Cheesecake with Peanut Brittle, all found at the renowned NOK by ALARA
When you aren’t designing you are ...
Dancing and drinking champagne.
The year is 3005 and someone is curating a retrospective of your brand, what would the title of the exhibition be?
"What We Know".