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At 19, Taofeek Abijako’s Already a “Head of State”

This summer, Taofeek Abijako became the youngest designer to ever show at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. At only 19, his presentation for HEAD OF STATE+ wowed critics, garnering rave reviews for its mature exploration of Afro-Futurism, West African subcultures, and the state of menswear, something Abijako took in stride having been picked up by venerable Japanese retailer United Arrows as far back as 2016. With those things in mind, we recently wandered around the West Village with Abijako to chop it up about fashion and what he calls “The New Renaissance.”

So, this summer, you became the youngest designer to show at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. Did you set out to be a pioneer like that or were you just trying to do your own thing your own way?

It’s all about doing my stuff the most fulfilling way.

Beyond that, the famous Japanese clothing line and store, United Arrows, started stocking your label, HEAD OF STATE+, based off a self-produced lookbook you posted to Twitter. First, how did that feel?

It felt great. It’s a confirmation of the impact the message shown through the work holds.

Taofeek’s wearing the O.N.S x Kenneth Ning Anti-Hero Topcoat, as well as his own pieces by HEAD OF STATE+

And second, what do you think that says about the opportunities social media affords new designers to get noticed?

I call social media and the internet as a whole, “The New Renaissance.”  Now we need a modern day Medici family to back these artists who have little to no resources.

The theme of this O.N.S Manual issue is “fearless.” What fears did you have to confront starting your own line at such a young age?

Financial backing and no industry experience. Although I’m glad I never had that from the get go. It made me learn a lot better during the process.

HEAD OF STATE+ seems really personal, and I know you’ve used to to explore interests like Afro-Futurism and Fela Kuti, as well as to advocate for youth culture. Why do you think those things are so important right now?

It’s my story. It’s not about the timing of it. As a storyteller, my experience shapes what I put out.

Taofeek’s wearing the O.N.S x Kenneth Ning Anti-Hero Topcoat, as well as his own pieces by HEAD OF STATE+

 

On your downtime, what kinds of books and magazines to do you like to check out and read?

I research as much as possible. Specifically on any social or political issue that intrigues me.

Lastly, what’s next for HEAD OF STATE+?

A continuation of my story. Expanding on accumulated ideas from research.

To keep up with Taofeek, follow him on IG: @headofstate_


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