The Agbada is more than a flowing robe. It represents decades and decades of Nigerian tradition passed down like a baton to the latest generation. The first Nigerians to wear it were from the Fulani and Hausa tribes who called it the Babban Riga and it went on to be called the more utilised ‘Agbada’ by the Yoruba. The next to wear it might be You.
Once, however, the Agbada was worn only by kings, chiefs and important wealthy, highly respected men in society or on special occasions.
Now, it’s worn more as a daily symbol of presence and importance than as regalia of position. No wonder the agbada is the first thing on the ‘Las Gidi (Lagos) Socialite Starter Pack.’ While an increasing number of young people, and even younger people, are appreciating Lagos Culture, one young designer is helping them appreciate Lagos Couture.
Deco is a 33 year old Lagosian. He tells me that the agbada is the complete traditional outfit in Nigeria, exclusive to gentlemen of society.
“I make my clothing from start to finish, sketches and all. I’m behind the entire process although I do have a number of people who support me and back me up. My clients are the backbone of everything I design: I really do have a wonderful client base.”
Deco’s work is all over social media, especially on Instagram where he has a loyal base of fans and clients who follow his work. His designs can be seen on several reknown Nigerian instagrammers such as Steven Onoja, style blogger. “I didn’t attend any sort of design school,” he confides. “It’s always been my passion and I’m grateful to God for this gift.”
A passion it may be, but Deco isn’t staying satisfied with how far he has come in terms of his craft and his business. When I cornered him for an interview, he was on the hunt for a quality goods connoisseur in Italy to act as a middleman for his brogue shoe line production. “I want to see the Agbada worn on an international scale,” he says. “It’s a fashionable outfit that I dream even celebrities would wear to the Oscars and other award shows.”
Seeing the uproar that the Dashiki has caused in Western cultures, one would expect that the agbada would not be too far from universal fame. At the moment, only trendsetting and adventurous westerners can try this. Only brave and respected westerners deserve to.
If you’d love to see more of his work be sure to follow him on the gram @deco_d29.
Let me know what you think about the agbada in the comment section below!