Saturday, June 10, 2023

Reni Foliwayo Talks Alara with

Founder and CEO of Lagos’ upcoming new concept store, Alara, Reni Foliwayo is interviewed by, talking about the venture as well as the style of women living in Lagos.

Alongside a streetstyle shoot for, lensed by photographer Nick Waplington, Ms Foliwayo reveals to the fashion platform that more than being a hub of high profile brands like Valentino, Dries Van Noten and Marni, among others;

“Alara is an expression of myself – my travels, my interests. And it’s an expression of this place, how we live here. So there’s furniture from Moroso, the Italian brand, but also objects I’ve picked up in markets in, say, Turkey. We have designers from South Africa making furniture for us, baskets from women in Zimbabwe, scarves from Ethiopia, weaving and leather goods from Nigeria…”

The store, designed by revered Nigerian architect David Adjaye, will also stock Nigeria’s much-loved labels, like Tiffany Amber, Lanre da Silva Ajayi and Lisa Folawiyo, with Alara’s founder stating;

“Both in terms of the international brands and the ones from Lagos, I tried to choose based on our aesthetic. I’ve tended to go for brands that have a lot of work, a lot of colour. It’s not about a streamlined look here. I love Jil Sander, but that’s not our aesthetic.”

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 When asked of Lagos’ general style aesthetic though, Ms Foliwayo explains to;

“I’m not sure if I can put it in words. As a people we’re very expressive, and so therefore we’re quite embellished. And so Lagos style, it is quite adorned, and most of the designers here, you find that going through their work. We wear a lot of colour, a lot of beading. That’s why Duro [Olowu] does so well here – he’s from Nigeria originally, of course, and I think you see that expressiveness in his clothes. And the Alara woman, she connects with that.”

A mock up of Alara's interior
A mock up of Alara’s interior

On why shopping at Alara will beat Nigeria’s jet-set womens’ taste for flying abroad to shop, the businesswoman states;

“We know her lifestyle. We know her life. That’s the difference. For example, Nana Otedola is, of course, a supremely elegant woman – a woman of the world. She could shop anywhere, but she’ll shop at Alara because the store is for her. And women like her. Or Adesua [Dozie] – here’s a woman, she has a prominent husband, but she also works, she has her own powerful position with GE, and she travels all the time, to West Africa or Atlanta, and it’s hectic. She lives on a plane. Now, we know what she’s juggling in a day, and things like, well, if she’s going to see her mother-in-law, she needs something to wear on her head. It’s not like walking into Selfridges where, yes, there’s a lot to choose from, but from the store’s perspective, she’s another corporate woman coming in to buy a suit. Or maybe a cocktail dress for a special occasion. We know she needs those things, but we understand more than that, too.”

We at SPICE can’t wait for the official opening of Reni Foliwayo’s game-changing new store next year in April’15, but in the meantime we will keep ourselves busy with the interview’s brilliant accompanying shots, featuring Ms Foliwayo and more, including stylish TV personality, Eku Edewor and top model Oluchi Orlandi.

See the shoot here, below;

Nigerian model and host and head judge of Africa’s Next Top Model, Oluchi Orlandi

Auction house owner, Kavita Chellaram

Nike Oshinowo

Lola Emeruwa and Mosun Ogunbanjo

Broker, Ebi Williams

Tola Adegbite

Banker, Sarata Kone

Executive counsel, West Africa, for GE, Adesua Dozie

Left: Brand consultant, Tokini Peterside and Right: Psychologist and executive coach, Dudun Peterside

TV personality, Eku Edewor

Singer-songwriter, Temi Dollface

Alara's CEO and founder, Reni Foliwayo
Alara’s CEO and founder, Reni Foliwayo


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