IFFAC Investment Holdings, in association with the African Fashion Foundation hosted the Kenneth Ize Loom Exhibition in Accra in partnership with Kenneth Ize & nmbello Studio.
Previously showcased at the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair (CIFF) Paris in 2019, and as part of his Paris Fashion Week Men’s debut in 2020, it was the first time the critically-acclaimed Nigerian fashion designer and LVMH prize finalist’s loom project was unveiled in Africa facilitated by AFF with sponsorship from IFFAC.
Present were key players and stakeholders within the creative industry including Roberta Annan, Kenneth Ize, Nifemi Marcus Bello, Emmanuel Okoro, Elie Kuame of Maison Elie Kuame, Emmy Kasbit, Nisha Kanabar of Industrie Africa, Bolaji Animashaun, Makeeba Boateng, Adebayo Oke-Lawal of Orange Culture, Mahlet Teklemariam of Adis Ababa Fashion Week amongst others.
Themed ‘A Redesign of the Kenneth Ize Loom’, the one-day exhibition was held at the Galleria, Mhoseenu Studios in Accra showcased the redesign of the traditional weaving loom by Ize and industrial designer, Nifemi Marcus-Bello of Lagos-based brand nmbello Studio.
The exhibition highlighted the design process including prototypes and sketches behind creating a contemporary weaving loom for Kenneth Ize’s third generation weavers. It also explored the ideology and theory behind material selection, ergonomic and anthropometric input and changes by nmbello Studio and Kenneth Ize.
The exhibition featured a four-minute documentary commissioned by African Fashion Foundation and funded by IFFAC which provided an in-depth look at the collaboration thus far as well as the achievements of the project including the findings and thoughts behind the design process.
Speaking at the exhibition, Kenneth Ize expressed his excitement and thanked guests for their rousing response to the loom project. He emphasized the vital role the weaving and artisanal communities especially women across Nigeria have played in his brand.
‘‘The redesign concept is something that has been close to my heart and seeing it come to life after several months was a very defining moment for me. Most importantly, being able to host it on African soil, and no better place than the home country of Roberta Annan who has been of immense support to my career through IFFAC and AFF.’’ He added that ‘‘the redesign is a pathway to improve on our systems and rethink the future.’’
Founder of Lagos based brand, nmbello Studio added that, ‘‘Working on this collaboration with Kenneth has been a worthwhile experience. Being able to learn, rethink and stretch myself through this process and knowing that I have contributed to making an impact makes me proud.’’
Founded on the strong belief that in exploring and nurturing existing cultures, one opens up an exciting territory for creating and inspiring future traditions, Ize’s brand has been devoted to the long-established traditions of Nigerian craft and local artisanship, merging new design aesthetic with a specifically local handcraft practice. Led by Nifemi Marcus-Bello, nmbello Studio also values the creation of sustainable and economically viable products and solutions by identifying underutilized or neglected production techniques and technology.
Kenneth Ize is one of the many beneficiaries of AFF and an IFFAC grant awardee having served as the first fellow following a 2014 competition in Lagos. As part of his fellowship package, he went on a 6-month internship with the LVMH Group in Paris. As a grant beneficiary of IFFAC, Kenneth received support to keep women employed during the pandemic by donating looms to women who weave for his collections in villages across Nigeria. Other organizations such as Afreeculture, ANO Institute of Arts and Knowledge have also received similar grant support from IFFAC.
AFF and IFFAC are Roberta Annan led initiatives focused on empowering fashion designers and creative professionals from Africa and its diaspora to succeed in the global fashion industry. AFF has been consistently committed to providing professional and educational developmental opportunities in partnership with established players in the fashion industry to support the success and progression of the African creative economy.
IFFAC working closely with AFF and other ecosystem partners is focused on the management and deployment of grants to create impact by providing a complete end to end support from incubator, to accelerator services and start-up funding in the form of grants and/or concessionary-interest loans.
Roberta Annan, CEO of IFFAC commented that ‘‘It has been an exciting journey working with Kenneth over the last decade and I am really proud of what he has been able to achieve. We are extremely excited to have sponsored this event in partnership with the AFF.
Social impact is at the core of what we do at AFF & IFFAC and being able to support and witness the impactful work which our fellow Kenneth has been doing with the rural women of Nigeria is something we are proud of. IFFAC is committed to investing in the much-needed infrastructure within Africa’s creative economy. As we continue to engage with our partners, we look forward to more exciting announcements in coming months.”