Day 1 of London Fashion Week saw the showcasing of the latest collection from AW19 Merit Award Winner Tolu Coker. The Merit Award was created in 2009, and is an initiative worth £20,000 across three seasons and has been created to support and develop new designer businesses on a global level. Tolu follows in the successful footsteps of past winners including: Eudon Choi, Pheobe English, David Koma, Roberts/Woos, Han Wen, Xiao Li, Katie Ann McGuigan, EDDA and SS19 winner i-am-chen.

Tolu Coker is a unisex fashion brand centred around inclusivity, diversity and social responsibility. More than just a fashion label, it serves as a creative outlet for the youthful expression of political reform, changing social and economic climates and new emerging identities. The brand explores and acknowledges hybridity and fluidity in societies and culture, translating this into forward-thinking fashion and environmentally conscious clothing, shoes and accessories.

Tolu aims to showcase her identity throughout her work by embracing dual heritage and cultures. She uses personal prints, embellishments and personal old polaroid photos of her family to reconstruct the black identity within the western world. A fusion of generational experiences is key to her work, with some pieces being inspired by extracts from her father’s diary. The brand ethos is all about identity. This development of unique and innovative design techniques, which utilise both traditional artisan craftsmanship and modern technology, is integral to the brand’s conscious consideration for sustainability and advancement of technology in the AW19 collection.

The collection championed reworked denims, recycled leathers and re-used plastic and lace scraps used alongside daring silhouettes, and a multitude of textures and bold embroideries to make each piece feel both luxurious and contemporary. The colours used were neutrals – black, white, browns and beiges – contrasted with very bright, primary colours which evoked a sense of youth and excitement.

Tolu’s collection was exceptionally well made and designed beautifully. But, this show went beyond simply showcasing well-designed clothing, the models danced down the runway holding boomboxes and engaging with the audience – giving a sense that these clothes were loved and part of a story. The show and collection really reflected the brand’s core identity; that of acceptance, love, and freedom.


For more information:
Instagram – @tolucoker

Author: Karine Laudort


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