With an ethos of body positivity and a vibrant touch of Nigerian culture, Temiloluwa Fagbemi, a Nigerian fashion designer and founder of mbw Fashionaddict, is breaking boundaries and challenging societal norms with her latest collection. Recently moving from Nigeria to the United Kingdom to further her career in fashion design, Fagbemi is making waves with her ‘Graduating Collection’, a line dedicated to empowering plus-size women to embrace their body type.
For someone who obtained a degree in Microbiology from Obafemi Awolowo University, and finding her passion in fashion designing after attending a fashion school in Lekki, Lagos, Fagbemi’s inspiration for the collection was deeply personal.
As a plus-size woman herself, she was well-acquainted with societal expectations around dress and appearance. Her ‘Graduating Collection’ is a vibrant rebuke of these norms, drawing inspiration from the 60s, 70s, and 80s era in Nigeria, characterized by bright and bold colours. The collection is designed to make a statement and empower plus-size women to embrace their bodies regardless of societal expectations.
Fagbemi’s Nigerian roots have been instrumental in shaping her design aesthetic despite her masters in Fashiom at Nottingham Trent University. The rich, colourful, and bold elements of Nigerian culture are a powerful influence in her designs. The UK’s inclusive fashion scene has allowed her to further explore these elements and express her unique design philosophy.
Collaboration has been an important part of Fagbemi’s journey. She partnered with JAbyHazael, a brand she used to frequently patronise back in Nigeria, for her latest collection. JAbyHazael’s unique and quality jewellery, particularly the recently launched candy hoops, added a distinct touch to the ‘Graduating Collection’.
In a highly competitive fashion industry, Fagbemi plans to distinguish her brand by being intentional with her designs. She noticed that many big-name plus-size designers merely scale up smaller sizes without considering the differences in body type. Fagbemi aims to fill this gap by creating designs specifically for plus-size bodies, catering to their specific needs.
“Another issue is lack of walk in stores for us, we need to always shop online, going through the hassle of sizing, i would like to change that as every woman deserve the joy of shopping and trying things on and not get stuck online deciding which would fit better only to end up with a size smaller or bigger,” Fagbemi said.
But her vision doesn’t stop there. She hopes her collection contributes to the broader movement of embracing body diversity in the fashion industry. Her personal experience of wearing more colourful clothing and feeling more confident as a result, is the exact effect she wants her collection to have on women.
Despite the challenges of moving her brand from Nigeria to the UK and establishing it globally, Fagbemi has embraced the power of social media to promote her brand and reach a global audience. Word of mouth, she believes, is the most effective marketing strategy. Delivering high-quality designs to her customers will ensure they keep talking about her brand.
Fagbemi’s future plans include gaining experience in the UK fashion industry and setting up a fashion academy in Nigeria, creating more opportunities and strengthening ties between the two countries.
“I see myself as one of the top designers globally years to come but everyone has to start somewhere. Now that I’m in the UK I’d like to gain experience in the UK fashion industry by working in fashion companies. I already started applying for jobs because I believe gaining this experience will help properly start my brand.”
She also plans to leverage e-commerce platforms and social media to reach a wider customer base.
Fagbemi’s journey is a testament to her determination and creativity. Her ‘Graduating Collection’ is not just a line of clothing, it’s a statement to the world and an invitation for women to embrace their bodies.
Temiloluwa Fagbemi’s final message is one that should resonate with all, “Society should not have too much power over how you look, this is your body and regardless it’s time to start loving and embracing it. Do you, and let your outfits speak without words.”