Meet Koye Adesanya, The Designer Making '90s Inspired African Streetwear With Mojo Kojo

What do you do after graduating with a degree in politics? Start your own label, of course. Koye Adesanya is the founder of Mojo Kojo, a streetwear brand celebrating African culture and '90s fashion. 

Koye started the brand after noticing a lack of African print in streetwear collections. He wanted to see outfits that would would let young people rep home at the club and festivals, not just at family events. And so he came up with Mojo Kojo. The name is a riff off his full name, Koyejo. 

(Photo: Kealan Nedrick)

You graduated with a degree in Politics from Manchester. Was it difficult switching career paths - Nigerian parents and all?

Within a few months of starting my course I knew that I didn’t want to go into Politics as a career. I tried to get jobs in fashion after I graduated for some time but I kept on getting rejected because employers said I lacked the experience. My parents were surprised by the switch and a bit wary of how far I could go with it to be honest!

When did you know you were into fashion?

I knew I was really into fashion when I went to university and became more creative with my clothes. I had more financial independence and I experimented a lot with charity shops and vintage clothing stores in Manchester. I paid more attention to 90s fashion by researching 90s looks blogs online.

Who are your biggest fashion influences?

I’ve taken a greater look into the singer SZA recently and I think her style is great - it’s a mixture of grunge and 90s fashion. I also really like UNIF, they’re very popular in the USA and there’s a playfulness and fluidity about them.

Supreme are also a great influence, what they’ve done with the box logo is powerful.

(Photo: Kealan Nedrick)

How do you go about sourcing fabrics in Lagos? Which markets are your favourite?

I have an inspiration mood-board with all my favourite looks, patterns and colour combinations and go to the markets with these images mind. At the market I try to find colours similar to this, or I find a print that I feel would look really good as a two-piece or some pants and just take the plunge and go with it!

I like to have patterns that have some type of symbolism, something that people relate to. All my fabrics have names that I have given them based on what I feel from the fabric. Balogun market is great, you can find anything you need there.

Do you have a large team supporting your work?

Yes, all our clothes are handmade by local artisans in Nigeria. Our team was very small until recently the team extended to just over 100 people just to work on the Urban Outfitters deal. I take the fabrics and explain which designs I want to the design head office, this is then communicated to the seamstresses at the factory. 

So how did you land that Urban Outfitters collaboration?

I got an order of the Maze Two Piece from someone in the USA in October 2016. I then get an email two weeks later saying that it was the Urban Outfitters Men’s buyer who actually bought it! He said he wore it and everyone loved it around the office and they would like to buy this outfit from me for their Summer 17 capsule!

Tons of emails were sent back and forth and then we finally got the order placed for a 1000+ piece collection confirmed in January this year! 

(Photo: Urban Outfitters US)

You run a Lagos-style club night, Ijoya, alongside Mojo Kojo. Why did you decide to start the event?  

Ijoya is an extension of our celebration of African culture, it means "time to dance" in Yoruba. Ijoya is a great way for people to come together and enjoy African and Caribbean music. Our next event is at the end of this month actually!

What are five tracks that you'd definitely play during an Ijoya night?

These tunes are definitely getting a play: "Ijoya" - Weird MC, "Come Closer" - Wiz Kid ft. Drake, "Leg Over" - Mr Eazi, "KMT" - Drake ft Giggs, "Wild Thoughts" - DJ Khaled ft Rihanna & Bryson Tiller.

Do you have any advice for young up-and-coming designers?

I would say remind yourself why you started in the first place, stick to what makes you unique and be open to collaborations.

Where does Mojo Kojo go from here?

Up. I’m hoping Urban Outfitters make another order with me soon because the Mojo Kojo collection got a great reception out in the USA (some products have already sold out). I’m also looking to make more Mojo Kojo streetwear staple pieces like T-shirts and hoodies.

(Photo: Mojo Kojo)

(Photo: Emily May Buckley-Jones)

Read More -> Thanks To Kolade And Akin, You Can Shop African Fashion In A Dynamic Way