IN collaboration with Africa’s hottest emerging design talent, Lulu Mutuli and Azra Walji, global beer brand, Heineken® has launched its first-ever African fashion collection, unveiled on the catwalk of the closing show at Lagos Fashion and Design Week on October 28.
The initiative is the next chapter in Heineken’s ‘Open Design Explorations’, a global co- creation programme that connects emerging creatives and gives them a platform to showcase their talent. The Heineken® Africa Inspired Collection is a fusion of the two designers’ concepts and is the first of many design apprenticeships that the brand will roll out across the world, going next to Asia.
After spending a week in Amsterdam developing their designs at top Dutch Fashion House, LEW (www.LeemansenWicker.nl), Mutulo and Walji will go on to benefit from a year-long programme of coaching from the designers, known for eye-catching print design and innovative corporate fashion. The designs will be produced at scale across Africa to be worn by Heineken ambassadors throughout Nigeria, East Africa and beyond.
One of the first global brands to invest in Lagos Fashion and Design Week, Heineken has been a headline sponsor for the past two years as it emerges as one the most important events in the fashion calendar for supporting new talent and inspiring Nigerian and African consumers.
Lulu Mutuli, 24, whose work gives traditional African apparel a futuristic edge, has worked in top fashion houses in New York including RHIE and OMONDI. She said, ‘My designs took inspiration from the role African fashion has played in the culture of my country. Combining this rich heritage with the progressive character of the Heineken brand was a challenge I couldn’t resist. I used the bold Heineken colour palette, but I added a grey tone and used technical orientated patterns for a modern twist. The asymmetric shapes you can see were a way of incorporating practical elements whilst creating striking and stylish silhouettes.’
Azra Walji, 27, is known for her feminine shapes and African inspired elegance, reflected in her winning designs with Heineken. She said, ‘I am so grateful to Heineken. Sharing my work at Lagos Fashion at Design Week is a career-defining opportunity. I really enjoyed playing with the bold red and green colours – they are so iconic to the brand but also synonymous with the vibrancy of Africa. My designs are inspired by traditional African apparel but with a twist – I love the modern femininity of the trousers and short dresses.’
Mark van Iterson, Director Global Heineken® Design said, ‘Identifying and empowering talent remains a critical part of our global agenda. We are constantly seeking new co- creation opportunities, to connect with young emerging designers and give them a global stage to showcase their talent, so we are delighted that this initiative has put a spotlight on such talent. Nigeria is a growing hub for creativity and commerce and Lagos Fashion and Design Week is helping to influence and define the global fashion landscape. Heineken® in Nigeria was one of the first global brands to invest in this vibrant event, seeing the opportunity to support new industry talent with real experience and a global stage. We look forward to extending the programme to other key markets next year.’