Lagos Space Programme is reconnecting African fashion to Yoruba traditions

“I’m from Lagos so looking good is part of our DNA,” says Adeju Thompson. “Taking pride in how we present ourselves in public is so important. It’s rooted in our history.” As the brains behind Lagos Space Programme, Thompson’s practice is rooted in the idea of decolonisation, with each collection drawing on the liberal attitudes of indigenous Yoruba people, whose stance on gender and sexuality was far more progressive than their Bible-bashing invaders. Through this, LSP is an attempt at orienting present-day Africans towards a future that feels closer in line to their past. Thompson’s latest collection, for example, drew parallels between traditional Adire artisans who use indigo-dyed cloth as a storytelling device, and the semiotics of contemporary queer fashion. It’s all in the LSP name: “grounded in our roots but still looking outward.”

Handspun and ever-so-slightly subversive, Thompson’s approach can be mapped across navel-trailing collars, frayed wrap skirts, ceremonial scarves, textured lab coats, and harness-vest hybrids – looks that have placed the designer on the LVMH and International Woolmark Prize shortlist two consecutive years in a row. Looks that have found themselves in the Victoria & Albert museum’s Africa Fashion exhibition. And yet, while Thompson’s work is clearly bound-up in national pride, their manifesto reads “Lagos Space Programme must not create fashion that is obviously Nigerian in its visual presentation,” and is committed to challenging the aesthetic expectations of African design. “There are wrong misconceptions, and we believe fashion really can shift cultural prejudices,” they say. Below, we get to know the designer on a more intimate level, as they talk trashy YouTube wormholes and why it might be embarrassing for straight people to go through their camera roll.


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