Our collection “The Voyager” takes inspiration from the Hausa tribe in Nigeria. Who are the Hausas? Firstly, they are nomadic by nature. Although the largest communities are in Nigeria and Niger, the Hausas have settled in eight other West African countries and are one of the largest ethnic groups in Central Africa. Consequently, the largest spoken language after Arabic in the Afro-Asiatic family of languages is Hausa.
Hausa Culture and Hausa Fashion
The beauty and serenity of the Hausa tribe has always fascinated us at U.Mi-1. Hausa tribes are ruled by Sultans who embrace a voluminous and loosely layered look, making everything they wear stunning and detailed. The sultans adorn themselves in swathes of fabric, favouring gorgeous stripes worn horizontally or bright outfits with ancient traditional African patterns, in a spectacular mix of colour and pattern. We are always impressed when cultures, new and old, like the Hausas can create such strong fashion statements.
This Hausa collection has been one of our favourite collections to design and cut. Translating their style into tailored pieces resulted in some technically challenging and complex garments that emphasise the sophistication of the Hausa culture.
We shot the Voyager fashion lookbook in Lagos. Although a winter collection, we wanted to infuse the heat and energy of Nigeria into the lookbook, using raffia mats, fans, basket and other props typical of the Hausas that we sourced from our favourite market – the Lekki crafts market.
Lekki Crafts Market: Hausa Culture
Lekki market is a gem of an open-air market, flanked on either side by stalls laden with jewellery, intricate wood and stone carvings. Fabrics and leather goods abound, from alligator or snakeskin, made by local artisans.
Our favourite section displays traditional masks which legend has it still carry the potency of the masquerades that wore it. Lekki market is our go-to place for high-quality Hausa crafts. However, these are products from the north of Nigeria.
Fashion is changing – the way we buy, sell and market it. It is an interesting time to be in the industry. As a result, it is in a state of flux where there are no right or wrong ways to do things. Certainly, we are experimenting. Above all, we want to stay true to our identity and hope that you follow us on this journey.