Art & Fashion

Taofeek Abijako - Founder of Head of State

Taofeek Abijako, a Nigerian designer and founder of the fashion-based brand HEAD OF STATE (HOS). To start, HOS isn’t your typical fashion brand and Taofeek is not the typical fashion designer with the five-year-old brand setting out to impact the world beyond providing exceptional clothes. ‘Homecoming’, the SS22 collection shown at the brand’s NYFW performance, was the perfect example — see the proof here. As the website describes, “HOS aims to provoke and further a dialogue about the past, current and future state of marginalized spaces,” and that’s exactly what it’s doing. Although Taofeek has shown at NYFW before, this most recent season was his first large-scale production that took about 100 team members to execute. 

You could say that all of the success was manifested. While the 23-year-old designer didn’t take the traditional route into fashion by attending fashion school, he does come from a creative family — his dad was a fashion designer in Lagos, Nigeria. After running HOS for five years, Taofeek is finding clarity in what his unique process looks like to create a collection. ‘Homecoming’ was also Head Of State’s first time doing womenswear, but Taofeek dove all the way in and created well-tailored power suits, along with conceptual gowns with the entire collection inspired by FESTAC ‘77, a major month-long international festival held in Lagos in 1977. And what else would we expect from a non-traditional fashion designer? Nothing less than a non-traditional fashion show. 

Taofeek orchestrated what was more of a live performance to debut his SS22 collection. The show was led by a poetic dancer that opened and closed the curtains of a box-shaped fixture on the stage to reveal the looks behind. Taofeek referenced Professor Peller, a Nigerian magician that performed at FESTAC ‘77, to inspire the movements of the dancer and also blended it with the artistic dancing that occurred at the festival, which created a beautiful visual of the dancer summoning each look. “I hate referencing things in a literal way,” said Taofeek. “I like to put things in the audience’s peripheral, so what’s in the peripheral is FESTAC ‘77 and what is in front of you is the modern day interpretation.” Meaning the dancer just happened to be a character in the story.

Head of State Designer Taofeek Abijako Reflects on His Obsession With Books  | Vogue

In addition to capturing postcolonial youth culture with distinct design, HOS is also an active presence in the community of Lagos and Albany, NY, where Abijako’s family moved to after leaving Nigeria. And we’re not referring to the usual act of donating a percentage of proceeds, Taofeek and his team are in the field doing the work – literally. “The original intention for Head Of State was to be a non-profit architectural firm, but fashion just happened to be something that I gravitated towards,” he said. “I wanted to design buildings that solved conflicts for marginalized communities, and now that is still a big part of what we do.” The brand has a number of on-going and developing initiatives that you can keep up with here, including their plans to build a creative ecosystem to act as a safe space for the youth.

The young changemaker is trailblazing through fashion and creating hope for marginalized communities in efforts to provide them with better opportunities and better living conditions. He mentioned that he comes from a family that is always willing to help others build and offer a solution to make a living. And he’s fully inherited that trait and incorporated into the work of HOS. As he continues to solve issues that less fortunate communities are subjected to, and influence the economy in Lagos by showing the people of the city ways to sustain it themselves, he is aware that the community he’s fostering is supported by the village behind him. “I realized I have a really strong support system,” said Taofeek. “Your Friends In New York have been very supportive and so has my family.” Right before the young designer embarks on a cross-country road trip as an act of self care, he connected with ESSENCE for a post-NYFW check-in detailing his current feelings, how the next collection will be inspired by his father’s immigration journey, and all things in the works for HOS.

Taofeek Abijako's brand HEAD OF STATE+ returns to New York Fashion Week –  Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region

Uphorial Recommend - new FiiO M11S player, which recently went on sale on Amazon and got some glowing reviews.

Taofeek Abijako (@feek___) / Twitter

Uphorial Recommend - new FiiO M11S player, which recently went on sale on Amazon and got some glowing reviews.

At Head of State, Designer Taofeek Abijako Is Looking Forward—and Giving  Back | Vogue

“I’ve learned my process better, and it’s non-traditional,” he says. “I spend a lot of time writing and with dialogue before anything else.” “I realized I have a really strong support system,” said Taofeek. “Your Friends In New York have been very supportive and so has my family.”