Abijako’s clothing brand Head of State+ has a twist that makes it unique: It pays homage to the styles of 1970s Afrofuturism and West African youth culture. He founded the line in 2016 as a unisex line, featuring a combination of printed and hand-painted T-shirts. The concept behind the brand was inspired by the song “Coffin for Head of State” by the legendary Fela Kuti.
According to the New York Times Style Magazine, Japanese luxury retailer United Arrows found Abijako’s self-produced look book on Twitter and began stocking the brand shortly afterwards. The following year, that same magazine labelled Head of State+ a “brand to watch”. Sure enough, the industry took notice.
Speaking about the brand’s position in the fashion industry, Abijako told the pop culture site Konbini, “I’m not necessarily focused on filling a gap in the industry. For me, it’s more about focusing on the storytelling the brand is about: the presentation of ideas without constraint. My work is a reflection of who I am and that’s interwoven with my cultural upbringing.”
The brand’s latest offering, titled Genesis, is the designer’s fourth collection. “Genesis is the translation of Afrofuturism portrayed by the likes of Parliament-Funkadelic and Sun Ra through the lens of West African youth – while at the same time celebrating the vibrancy of West African youth culture in the 1970s and drawing parallels to modern time. The continuous homage to Fela Kuti is also portrayed,” Abijako said.
Abijako told the Council of Fashion Designers of America that his vision for the brand is bigger than clothing. “I approach Head of State+ as less of a brand and more of a case study. It’s me digging into my cultural upbringing while trying to have a firm grasp and understanding of it.”
This speaks to the fact that although the brand is based in America, his home country’s influence is clear. Abijako told Konbini that he aspires to bring it to Nigeria. “I definitely want to bring Head of State+ to Nigeria. Along with the current list of contemporary retail stores that carry the brand, adding a few from Nigeria in the near future will be interesting – taking the brand’s ideas back to its primary roots. Besides that, I’m looking to explore the art scene back home and contributing to it, whether through curated art installations or organising pop-up shops or events with a concept store or a gallery exhibit.”