Arts & Entertainments

I wear only adire now because it helps tell our story – Princess Ronke Ademiluyi

Princess Ronke Ademiluyi started African Fashion Week in London and Nigeria over a decade ago. Recently, she organised an adire beginners’ workshop exhibition with a mobile truck branded with adire across many cities in the country. His Imperial Majesty, Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, commissioned the Mobile Truck at the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Centre, Lagos. She spoke to FLORA ONWUDIWE about this and other issues. Excerpts…

How would you access all the activities you organised throughout 2021?

First, I am grateful for having the opportunity to re-launch and be more innovative and creative. You all know what happened in 2019, it was a year of COVID, a lot of businesses shut down, we could not have African Fashion Week in London and we couldn’t have fashion week in Nigeria. So ending the year with a launch of adire on wheels, which is a project of the Adire Textile Hub in Ife, is a reason to be grateful.

Would you make it a yearly event at Ife?

No. You know, we’ve always done it in Lagos, so we are now bringing it back to Lagos, so we might even take it to another city in Nigeria.

Let’s talk about the Adire Textile Hub, a mobile initiative which symbolises that the adire will go to many places, what is the creativity behind it?

W e launched Oduduwa Textile Hub at Ile-Ife in March 2021 and it was under the chairmanship and sponsorship of His Imperial Majesty, Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II. It was launched as a facility to help women and youth after COVID-19; it was launched to allow them to use our heritage fabrics as a wealth creation project, to teach them the creative skills, innovative skills and profitable skills of the adire industry as well.

What are the things to find in the Textile hub?

When you come into the hub, the first thing you see are the trainees. At the moment we’ve trained over a 100 people. After training they graduate, and we give them start off funds. So the trainees are the core arm driving the project; production is secondary, though we produce as well. I will say from when we started till now, we have sold in over six countries around the world. From the UK, U.S.A., Canada, Brazil, to all parts of the world that are requesting the adire fabrics. I think adire has evolved finally. It has now chased ankara which is not our own away because a lot of people did not know that ankara is a fabric that we adopted from Indonesia. It was dumped on the coast of Africa and because of that it was printed and it makes it very cheap, so a lot of people did away with adire and they had this ankara option. We also have the Chinese printed version which makes it cheap. Yes, we have the Chinese that printed adire as well; however, people like the hand made one. The uniqueness of the handmade adire is that you will never see two of a kind. The same person can do one fabric, but you will still see the differences in the pattern, so even if you sign your own signature, if you sign it two times, there is no way it can be the same and that is the uniqueness about the adire fabric; we’ve so many types, both modern and ancient from the batik to the alabere, to the eleko, oniko and so many.

Tell us more about Adire on Wheels?

It is a new project on Adire Oduduwa Textiles Hub, courtesy of His Imperial Majesty that keeps seeing the need to empower and to support us; we know that a lot of people can’t come to Ife and we also know that Lagos is the Centre of Excellence, commercial centre of Nigeria, so we decided to bring it to Lagos. The Adire on Wheel is a mobile truck that is branded with adire that has so many adire designs in it. We are going to be offering workshop services to the public as well. So it enables us to bring in creativity of the women in the community, bring their work to life, so that people can see. So it is not restricted to Ife alone, it is not restricted to online alone; people can actually feel the texture and appreciate the design. So it is going to be all over Lagos.

What was the intention of this project, were you trying to show that it was time we did away with the Western wears and be proud of our own fabric which is adire?

I wouldn’t say that, because for me I’m British, I’m English. I was born and grew up in London, so that is second home to me. So rather than chase away Western wears, we are trying to blend, we are trying to create a synergy between both, to let people know that we can use our fabric to make English wears, we can do adire Jeans , Chiffon, Turtle neck, Organza, Jazzy. So there is no fabric that we cannot do adire on. So we are blending it, we are not chasing the English wears away. Up until December I was not used to wearing adire, I was wearing ankara but now for me it is strictly adire and I love it so much, because adire allows us to tell our stories.

 

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