Spotlight: PITH Africa Are For The Young And Free, African
In our ‘Spotlight‘ series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.
In our latest piece, we spotlight Nigerian streetwear fashion brand PITH Africa. The Lagos-based clothing brand was created by three university mates with a keen sense for fashion, and breathing new life into the fashion styles and trends that raised us. The designing trio consists of Style Director & Head of Operations, Nezodo, Creative Director, Ojemen Cosmas, and Adedayo Laketu as Artistic Director. The dual-sex fashion house began operation in 2017 and has since launched two mini-collections under an ongoing fashion project titled ‘Dilly’. The label’s name ‘PITH’ has two meanings: the first meaning ‘Essence’ and the other “like the top layer of a leaf, the layer that helps absorb the sun, water, and light”, as the founders describe it. The essence in question refers to the creator’s intention behind the brand being to “create a brand that taps into the essence of being young, creative, wild, innovative.”
We spoke with all three creators on where their creative journey has taken them since the brand’s inception during the last university days, and their message and input towards creating a brighter and more fashionable future for young Africans.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Describe your background as an artist and the journey you’ve taken to get it to where it is today.
Our brand is one that touches on the hearts of what it means to be young, African, and free. We take tradition, and give it a new breath of light — thereby, eternizing it. PITH Africa sets out to build a fashion house inspired by the refreshed understanding of Africa’s diverse and consciously aware millennial generation — as that’s where it started with us. We started PITH Africa in the dormitory, during our last year in university. It has been a not-so monumental journey — but the only thing that’s constant is change, right? But, many lessons and influences from the late industry patriarch Virgil Abloh — we have what we know today as PITH. We learned to key into the power of social media as a tool for rewriting algorithms, while championing our stories with layers and emotions being passed across each garb in search of individuality so everyone can appreciate the beauty of being clothed in their skin. This gave us an opportunity to see who we are as people first, and then PITH second — which eventually became the momentum we channeled in our operations and creative direction of all our product drops and art direction of our short films, and campaigns, across our multiple sub-cultures and sub-genres. There’s been an increase in the rise of Africans creating paradigm shifts, and PITH Africa is a brand that resonates with them, using garments, style, and imagery as an arsenal for documentation. At the moment we’re creating clothes to document a timeline of growth in Pan-African creative scenes, and our growth as artists.
What are the central themes in your work?
As PITH Africa grows each year and continually finds its voice, so do the conversations around our ethos. When we first founded PITH Africa, more than anything, we amplified our blackness and black experience with our first mini collection. Acknowledging who we are was the first step to building a world of our own. As we grew as creators, expanding our views of existence and identity, we channeled our findings into PITH. In the past couple of years, PITH Africa has grown to become a brand deeply rooted in community, as we have been documenting a wave of creative outbursts in Lagos, Nigeria, and telling stories about our fashion essence through short films around subcultures like skateboarding, knockoff-culture and promoting self-expression in all forms. Ultimately we are documenting to connect the world to Nigeria’s consciously aware millennial generation using fashion and style as our primary mediums. We want to inspire younger versions of ourselves to think differently by championing creativity through our product and visuals. The world needs to know that something this amazing can be birthed out of Africa.
How has the pandemic affected you creatively?
For PITH, the pandemic created an opportunity for introspection. Before the pandemic, we took a break for about a year to really figure out where our conversation was — especially with the clothes we made. We had always wanted to explore more sustainable alternatives to garment production and fabrics sourcing, and the pandemic really provided the calm we needed for that. During the height of the pandemic, we began to test ideas and explore more designs around used jeans. This birthed our current trajectory and it’s been deeply rewarding considering how many denim pieces we’ve been able to up-cycle in just one year and how our consumers have been receptive to this shift in design ethos. This year we want to explore more garments silhouettes with denim as our primary fabric.
How are you using fashion to translate African stories to a global market?
We’re based in Lagos, Nigeria, and are privileged to provide a first-hand point of view of the new wave of young Africans reshaping the continent. We create by understanding the different paradigms happening around us and translating these into stories with our clothes and visuals cues, taking on different voices and opening up a discourse by putting a spotlight on what we feel is the pulse of Africa, and from our standpoint that’s juxtaposing what’s happening in ‘Young Lagos’. This is a founding and constant ethos that flows through when you take a look at our collections, products, and films.
Can you talk about your use of colors and accessories in your project?
Colors, in essence, have been more of a subconscious element in our creative and art resolution, which fills up a void of who we are as artists and how we’ve had to navigate curating this structure from a third-world country. So, dreaming inclusively with colors has always been our escape mechanism that generates the psychological effect on emotions that allows people to see PITH products from a more stimulative stance and highly competitive perspective. Also, accessorizing is typically our form of immortalizing this future we want to live in because for us it’s less about gender — we believe in style, direction, and design.
In hindsight, we aspire to curate these realities for young Africans who are exposed now more than ever with the resolve that we want our burgeoning community to be able to wear their PITH with looks and identities that communicate multiple layers to their diverse personality and establish opportunities for thorough expressions.