Jeanshiki Couture for funky people

Eyes of a Lagos Boy is proud to present Jeanshiki Couture for funky people, as the Nigerian fashion scene continues to enjoy a boom and fervent followership around the world. Ofi, danshiki, aso oke, kente, adire, ankara and many others are fast becoming a part of households internationally, a phenomenon which reflects the glut of talents in the country and has resulted in several West African traditional outfits hitting the mainstream or making a comeback.

Jeanshiki, a mix of different shades of the classic blue jeans patched together in the most groovy danshiki – often called dashiki in the Western world.

We interviewed the man behind the brand, Olumide Bamgboye, a Fela Kuti protégé also known as Bob Fay. He is a lawyer by training, an impresario by profession and an artist by calling, roaring to tell us all about it.

You can order your Jeanshiki here:

What is Jeanshiki Couture?

Jeanshiki Couture is a child of the denim revolution, after jeans, jackets, hats and caps, shirts, belt, shoes and ties, which have sold billions of pieces, an idea occurred to me to introduce something new. Jeanshiki is also based on a traditional African wear – the danshiki. The word “dashiki” comes from dàńṣíkí a Yoruba loanword from the Hausa dan ciki, literally meaning ‘shirt’ or ‘inner garment’ (as compared to the outer garment, babban riga).

When did you start and what inspired you?

Right from when I was a boy, I have been wearing jeans and denim shirts and jackets, long before most kids in Nigeria had access to them.  My parents, who were living in England were always sending them to me, because it was durable. Being artistic by nature and a television addict, I had fallen in love with Westerns and learned to patch jeans, putting different shades together. That is how I first came up with this tribal artwear today known as Jeanshiki. I sowed the first pair with a needle, resulting in so many needle pricks. I started designing them back in 1992.

Between us – I have to confess that many of my creative ideas are formed during my sleep. I somehow got instructions during my dreams. I was always wondering how this works until I realized that I probably had already been thinking about it, but pushed it to the back of my mind. One day I woke up after a turbulent night, such that I couldn’t even remember sleeping. I immediately started to rip apart a couple of my jeans and began sewing them into what I was shown in my sleep. I proceeded to present the fruit of my frantic work to a tailor who understood but could not duplicate it since there was no denim material.

What is the process of transforming these used jeans into jeanshiki?

Tailors tend to carve out designs from fabrics, not from ready made outfits, consequently I had to piece whatever pre-washed denim outfits I could get my hands on to put it together into a big fabric for the tailor. Presto – my aim was achieved. I then proceeded to play around with the shape, making it hip and stylish. It is tribal artwear, tribal because the design is Nigerian, nay African (danshiki) but the multi-patched material is European or American.

Why the “danshiki?”

The danshiki had gained universal acceptability in the US since the 60’s, it is a revolutionary outfit adopted by the Black Panthers, which subsequently gained acceptance with the Afro-American population and later caught on amongst the hippies until the whole society embraced it. It was celebrated for many decades until it went slowly out of fashion.

Jeanshiki, freshly resuscitated in denim has proved to be a bang amongst Europeans and hip Africans, ready to make a fast come-back.

Are all Jeanshiki the same?

Not at all. The mystique about it is that, no two designs are the same. This is very much in line with the desire these days to stand out and to be unique. It is undoubtedly a hip gear, as late Biyi Bandele said “It gives persona to a hitherto anonymous dresser.” It does stand out, it can be made chic and sleek, urban and cool.

How have Jeanshiki been accepted by the people?

Jeanshiki have held practically everyone that behold it captive, this is one of the reasons why demand has always surpassed supplies. Every item is unique, so mass production has deliberately been held back, but over time, we have made many for a selected few.

Is it an example of waste to wealth?

Yes indeed. Textiles thrown into landfills have become a big global problemNatural fibers take years to decompose, whereas man-made fibers do not decompose all. We recycle used jeans, that may not be worn anymore but are still useful. Therefore, Jeanshiki is absolutely sustainable fashion. In fact, one could imagine handing them down to one’s children and even grandchildren.

There can be no doubt that Jeanshiki has a very bright future, its appeal to fashionistas and artists bear testimony to its allure. Ladies are fascinated by it, children love it.

Olumide Bamgboye attended C.M.S Grammar School, studied Law at University of Lagos and once ran an entertainment company as an impresario. He is still hoping to set up his band after training his children since he has about a 100 songs of differing genres, making his debut with a band called “The Ghost Dance Religion Band”. Bob Fay is a timeless Lagos icon who grew up around Fela Anikulapo Kuti and the Afrika Shrine.

You can order your Jeanshiki here: