I met up with Adenike Adegboye while I was in Lagos earlier on this year. You can get to know her Denike and she’s an incredible stylist, blogger and upcoming fashion designer. She actively pursues her dreams and this has seen her completing a two-year fashion design course in Milan and interning under one of Milan’s best street style photographers. She piqued my interest for my second ELLE Style Reporter challenge because I believe that she’s disrupting Nigeria’s beauty standard. You get to learn why Adenike Adegboye is part of the #womenatwork series.
The Nigerian beauty standard is perfect. The ideal woman dons a fully reimagined face, is ideally styled as a glamour queen in platform heels, skinny jeans, a dazzling top and designer handbag and is able to swing her lovely weave in the wind. This image is easily observable by the number of make-up and gele (head tie) services that have populated local residential areas and by glancing at street style images captured by local photographers. The Nigerian beauty standard will praise this perfect look and insult anything else that does not fit this ideal.
Denike Adegboye’s art through fashion design, styling and blogging is one that disrupts Nigeria’s beauty standard. She desensitises all that she comes into contact with whenever she wears natural hair, boyfriend jeans or a face free of make-up. This has meant that she has been met with some harsh criticism like: “Why are you wearing that? Are you a boy?”, “What’s wrong with your face? Are you sick?”, “Why is your hair like that? Are you one of those Christians that can’t relax their hair?” and even, “I liked your look but your hair is distracting”.
Denike stands firm in the belief that she must be happy with herself because she does not dress to please anyone else, and this is advice she gives to all young women who are tired of fitting in. She wants to create a future free of judgement based on the way you look. I had the fortune of meeting Denike during another hot and humid day in Lagos, Nigeria. I watched her gracefully walk to our meeting spot wearing a white shirt, jean skirt, black brogues and an Akara handbag. She had a warm smile on her face and looked ready to be peppered with questions about her journey as a fashion designer, blogger and writer.
Denike’s style is very comfort based and inspired by international trends. She wears whatever she feels like in that moment and it could range from tomboy chic all the way to girly girl. Her time in Milan while she studied fashion design and had a mentorship under Tamu McPherson, one of Milan’s most famous street style photographers, was essential in constructing her current outlook on fashion.
We talked about her journey into fashion. She started at the beginning with a description about how her mother believed that you will always have something in your life if you can create things. This meant that Denike was taught to make beads, tie-dye materials and sew from a young age. She received her first sewing machine when she was 13 and hasn’t looked back.
Her love for clothes and styling eventually created her blog, Demure Denike in 2013. She wanted a platform to showcase clothes that she was making for herself but the blog has become a way to introduce Nigerians to alternative fashion. Although, she’s making headway she’s digging into a very stubborn sector.
She believes in amassing knowledge and her return to Lagos has seen her seeking internships under Nigeria’s upcoming fashion houses. She knows that this experience will be essential in building her fashion brand. There is no doubt that she will be able to succeed and we’ll all stay tuned to Denike’s disruptive radar signal.
Photos by Yetunde Dada