Fashion Weekend Magazine

Burna Boy on His Patchwork Approach to Style

Burna Boy on His Patchwork Approach to Style

You can easily get lost in the fashion game if you make everything too serious

Streetwear /ˈstri:twẼ:/ : distinctive style of street fashion,which has its roots in Californian and skate culture, but also encompasses elements of hip-hop fashion, modern high fashion and haute couture.

With the need for fashion to be relevant across generations, the much anticipated shift in fashion has finally arrived, and it’s called Streetwear. Indisputably derived from Japanese fashion conscious sub-cultures, California skate culture, underground music scenes and probably most importantly, hip-hop culture, fans

have made Streetwear the new buzz word both on and off the runway. Propelled by acts such as Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and Odd Future in cult favourites as Supreme, OffWhite & Vetements, this hypebeast culture and historically niche market has been brought from the streets of SoHo to our very shores. Locally sourced & produced Nigerian streetwear brands such as David Blackmoore and Severe Nature amongst others, have become trail blazers leading the way in proliferating the Streetwear Culture within our borders and beyond. With Nigeria experiencing this Streetwear revolution, these brands in addition to the loyal fan base they have garnered, have caught the eye of musical heavyweight, Nigeria’s own BurnaBoy and vice versa. As Grace Jones was to Azzedine Alaïa, Audrey Hepburn to Hubert de Givenchy, Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, better known to us all as Burna boy is to Nigerian Streetwear. The afro-fusion artiste who comes from Rivers State took the country by storm with his alternative sound and intriguing sense of style. With taste encompassed by his idiosyncratic styling of the popular bucket hat, bullet-proof-esque vests, heavily distressed jeans, multi-toned denim pants, checkered socks or even weather beaten Chuck Taylors, the marriage of the two are a match-made in fashion heaven! Nigeria’s International Rockstar, Oluwa Burna as he popularly calls himself has a sense of style rivalled by none and is undoubtedly the Nigerian Street-wear King. We sit down with the famous act and talk all things fashion & style.

“Streetwear is what is worn on the street … sneakers with a dress, a hoody, it’s mixing genres -Virgil Abloh”

What part of your personality do you think is inspirational to the streetwear culture?

Authenticity! The freedom to do what you want despite what everyone else is doing or what’s popular.

In a recent Vogue article, your approach to style was described as ‘patchwork’ can you shed more light on how this describes your style?

I try to do what makes me feel like I’m swaggy, it could be a named brand or not. It just has to make me feel good. It just has to be different. For me, if it’s not different, then I don’t feel good. I could go somewhere wearing a shirt, and if I see someone wearing the same shirt, I’ll take it off and just be shirtless!

What image are you trying to represent with this and is this an approach to style you would encourage your fans to adopt?

I encourage everyone to adopt what is them! What feels good to them. Don’t just do it because you see someone doing it. For me, it’s all about the combinations, it could be just a plain white shirt, but what you pair it with, makes the difference.

Which style icons inspire you the most?

It’s Roni! She always gets me stuff I don’t know, I’d be pissed off at first, but then I’d find out about it later after rocking it for a month or two. By then everyone has it and she’d be like “I told you!”. She puts me ahead of the curve! Virgil Abloh also! He’s just a genius, there’s nothing else to explain than the fact that he’s a really cool guy!

What does having your own unique style mean to you?

When you see me, or you see someone dressed a certain way, you go “ah! That’s Burna Boy”, you know? My style precedes me. Describe the evolution of your style from when you released ‘Like to Party’ to ‘Ye’? It’s been from a more controlled version of me, to a more freer version of me. I just evolved into freedom. I saw the future. Like when I came with the Versace shirt and shades, I saw that if I did this, everyone’s going to be on it - It’s a catchy move! It was just catchy stuff to wear at the time, it was something that was almost forgotten. I get my ‘Roni moment’ when I wear something completely out of the ordinary.

What fashion item did you splurge on after your success with ‘Like to Party’?

I was getting the same items I was getting anyway, you know? Nothing really changed as far as the clothing. Before it used to be all about gold jewellery and then it switched to diamonds, so I guess the jewellery really. Before, I wouldn’t really be spending money on certain things. Splurging has never really been the reason for me, it only really happened when I just came up with a design and thought, “This would be really sick on a chain!”.

What other Nigerian streetwear brands do you like?

WafflesnCream! They’re so out of the box, they’re all about that skateboard culture - people don’t know this, but I used to skateboard. This was when I was about nine, till I was about fifteen or sixteen. I started thinking about money too much so I stopped. I love any streetwear brand that I see doing creative things, but I haven’t been around long enough to explore other brands.

Tell us your favourite piece from the brand…

Their new range of printed pants is dope!

Purely African. Antiinstitutionalist. Divergent from status quo, few words the designers used to describe the similarities between your brand and theirs – What do you think? Do you agree with those words?

Hopefully that’s a compliment! For sure though. I think fashion is in a place where people are looking for authenticity. Designers are looking for people with a real personality to express their aesthetic and elevate their pieces style-wise.

Would you like to own your own fashion brand? What style of fashion would you want to be designing?

Of course! I’m working on it as we speak. It’s my ‘merch’ from my tours but the design is really giving out what I would wear. If I were to wear what I’m wearing right now, It would be all Burna Boy, it would be all my design. That’s basically it! It would be my designs on clothes that I like. I’d describe it as ‘Reckless & Sweet’.

What fashion brand(s) internationally would you love to collaborate with?

Virgil Abloh. Off-white. Louis Vuitton. All of that! Have you ever felt any pressure to conform to the status quo in your dressing? No. I wasn’t brought up like that!

Growing up in Port Harcourt. How would you distinguish between style in Port Harcourt & style in Lagos?

That’s a mad one! It’s just different cultures. There’s some places in Rivers State where they’d wear a bowler hat and some type of pimp thing and a wrapper, it’s wild! Then they have the gold buttons. That’s their jewellery. You’d never, ever, ever, see that type of thing in Lagos! In Lagos, if you’re not doing the traditional up & down that all the guys in Lagos wear, or everyone wants to be drippy in designers - whether fake or real - That’s Lagos. In PH, it’s whatever, people would rather spend money on a watch with a normal button-up shirt. It’s whatever! It’s not focused on style, it’s more focused on how much your shoes are, or your watch is, it’s more focused on accessories and car. Oh! They love cars!

What inspired your hair Change?

No specific reason! I like to experiment with things and I wanted to try this out. I might cut it off next week, who knows? I’ve let it grow out for a while now. What are the origins of the name ‘Burna Boy’? I was obsessed with comic books as a kid and I wanted to be a superhero, so I guess I found my outlet Eventually.

What are the origins of your sound ‘AfroFusion’?

I had a lot of musical influence growing up, from my grandfather’s highlife and afrobeat collection to my dad who gave me my first reggae CD. That’s why I call my genre AfroFusion, it’s a concoction of different elements of sound.

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