By Chinonso Ihekire
The ever expressive and experimental fashion form, iconic for its breaking-of-rules and poetic approach to fashion styling and designing, hallmarked as Alternative dressing or Alte, has continued to silently surface as a unique fashion consciousness for decades, within and outside the country. With the ever strengthened presence of conservative fashion, one might fear that the there is no future for the Alte fashion wave in Nigeria. Yet, time has proved that our dynamism among other factors are the oxygen tanks of the Alte wave in Nigeria.
Source: Adekunle Gold/Instagram (2019)
History has showed that Nigerians are unique and experimental people. They are creative with their realities, and it’s evident in the chunk of art they churn out (from Burna Boy’s Yawa Dey to African China’s Mr. President, for example). They never conform to a sticky situation of life. They are quite daring and very artistically expressive. Nigerians cross the streets of creativity without looking left or right, and that is going to take them to one destination: The Realm of the Alternative.
Despite the increasing and resplendent face of conventional fashion, strengthened by creative designers like Mai Atafo, Yomi Casual and so on, the Alte movement continues to garner more acceptance. Creative designers like MaxiVive, Orange Culture, Rogue-ng and so on, have continued steering the ship of the Alte fashion revolution. In fact, it has become an identity for many musical artistes from Adekunle Gold, Lady Donli, Burna Boy, to BOJ on the Microphone, to Santi, the list is endless. This only affirms its presence in the country as a respectable style of fashion expression.
Source: Naatal media/Instagram
The social media boom has also contributed to the rising growth of the Alte movement in Nigeria. It was pioneered and promoted in a Nigeria where the major visual mass medium was the Television. The likes of Charlie Boy and Fela Kuti, among others were the few that stood out as followers of the movement, because they were the few faces we could see on TV. Now, the tide is turned and the Alte wave is popularized by regular people who can amass a huge followership on social media. These ones are the new seeds of the Alte movement, ready to germinate and sprout everywhere they go.
Another strong reason Alte can never die is because the style itself is very intriguing. It’s ability to be experimented with makes it very attractive to people, especially the dominant Generation X (a.k.a Nigerian youth) who make up a mass of the country’s population (over half of the population). You can easily switch up the script on a corporate outfit, with a loose baggey Ankara pant (for instance, the Kunle’s Kembe); or you throw a scarf on that all flowery satin jumpsuit; or it could just be the daring mix of colours! Alte is very experimental and interesting. Like magnet to steel , it would always find its place in people’s hearts.
Source: Kunle Afolayan/Instagram
What other reason do you need? The style is transcendental. Perpetual. It lives on like an Abiku. Generations unborn would still become ardent followers, because there would always be a thirst for creative expression. Nigerians would always break the norm, because as the Nok Art proves, we’ve been artists for a very long time.