By Vincent Desmond
Where elsewhere men may shy from colourful fabrics and oversized dramatic silhouettes, in Lagos, Nigeria, they wear them as a symbol of wealth and great personal style. Each fashion week, you’ll see these men dressed in their best eye-catching prints, dramatic arm details, and flowing bodices, determined to outshine everyone else on the street style scene. Among this group is Eniafe Momodu, standing out and dominating over the rest not just in height—he stands at a towering 6’6’’—but also with one of the best looks.
Within the last two years, Momodu, a graduate of the University of Leeds who currently works as a photographer, producer, and writer, has become one of Lagos’s most recognizable Gen-Z style icons with over 24,000 Instagram followers. Momodu has brought to life campaigns and productions for companies like Arise Fashion Week, Alara, and Ebony Life, and has also been a host for his own projects, like New World Brunch. His custom green aso-oke and gazar silk agbada from Fruche, which he wore to the last Lagos Fashion Week in November, was lauded by many publications, including Vogue, as one of the best looks from the event. To attend Lagos Is Burning, a ballroom-inspired party, he wore custom-made all-black robes, which, in his words, channelled “Andre Leon Talley, Billy Porter, and Dominique Jackson.”
“My style is often described as grand, larger-than-life, and reminiscent of André Leon Talley.” Eniafe Momodu says from Dubai. But that extravagance belies his core fashion philosophy. “My typical silhouette involves something long and free-flowing,” he says. “There’s a certain ease of movement that I try to convey through my style, which also speaks to my personality. I don’t subscribe to the belief that fashion is pain. Comfort can be very stylish. For me, what I wear isn’t really about how I look. I’m far more concerned with the message behind what I’m wearing. I always think deeply about what a garment says about me, but also what it says about culture, gender, sustainability, and other facets of our society.”
Despite being a fashion capital, Lagos stores offer limited options for plus-size customers, particularly from the ready-to-wear brands. Plus-size outfits are often double or triple the price for the same outfit in a smaller size. Momodu has often faced this struggle and instead relies on easily accessible tailors in Nigeria to create his custom wardrobe. It’s a process with less hassle, but still not ideal.
“I would not describe fashion in Lagos as particularly size-inclusive,” Momodu says. “However, thanks to the prominent bespoke culture in Lagos, the ready-to-wear industry and its shortcomings do not have as totalitarian an influence on our clothing as they do in other parts of the world. People here regularly turn to the made-to-measure industry and employ local tailors to create clothing for special occasions like weddings, funerals, and birthdays, as well as for their day-to-day traditional attire.” The caftans that Momodu has become known for are mostly made-to-measure by his favourite tailor (the two have a collaborative relationship and Momodu will send fabrics to him). He describes the process as many Nigerians would: Tailors rarely stick to deadlines, but they always get the job done well.
The easy access to tailors and bespoke fashion isn’t the only thing Momodu is grateful for as a stylish man living in Lagos. He considers himself lucky to have access to the culture and history that surround him in Lagos. The creative scene and the never-ending supply of fashion inspiration fuel his storytelling as a creator.
“In Lagos, we are privileged to have access to such a rich and vibrant cultural history. As a creative, you can find inspiration everywhere you look,” Momodu says. “When it comes to prints, patterns, textiles, and colour combinations, we have centuries worth of references to choose from. At its core, Nigeria is a melting pot of different cultures and influences, so local designers and artisans can draw from aspects of Nigerian culture without becoming homogenous.” (VOGUE)