NKWO, Abuja, Nigeria: preservation of traditional crafts


NKWO, Text: Nora Palzenberger


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NKWO, Abuja, Nigeria

NKWO – The clothes

Upcycled denim, cotton from Nigeria and fabric remnants form the basis of each collection from the Nigerian label. The result is free-spirited fashion inspired by the nomads of the African deserts. Using traditional weaving, embroidery anddyeing techniques, Nkwo Onwuka breathes new life into the limited pieces and at the same time combines the traditional and the modern.

The designer sees the purpose of her label as recycling textiles. She invented the hand-woven, upcycled Dakala cloth that features in every collection and whose name refers to the use of denim remnants and the sound of traditional weaving techniques: Sakala-si, sakala-sa…

NKWO- The designer


Nkwo Onwuka’s interest in fashion was sparked as a child when her mother taught her how to sew. What started as a hobby led to the launch of her own label in 2007 bearing her first name.

With the rebranding five years later, Onwuka placed greater emphasis on the preservation of traditional crafts and the reduction of textile waste. The Nigerian, who has a degree in psychology, is today one of Africa’s leading sustainable fashion designers.

NKWO – The green promise

For Nkwo Onwuka, sustainability and upcycling are the natural response to the vast quantities of second-hand clothing that land in the markets in her home city of Lagos. To minimise textile waste, conserve natural resources and also safeguard African weaving traditions, the designer works closely with local artisans and manufacturers.


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