Achieving cult status in the world of fashion is no easy feat. It requires a unique blend of creativity, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to one’s craft. Banke Kuku has undeniably ascended to the pinnacle of cult fashion status, and the journey to this coveted position is nothing short of remarkable.
To understand what it takes for a fashion brand to achieve cult status, you need to look beyond the superficial aspects of glitz and glamour. It goes beyond just creating beautiful garments; it’s about creating a brand that resonates with people on a deep level, a brand that becomes a part of their identity.
In 2023, the eponymous fashion brand Banke Kuku achieved just that. Her designs are more than just clothing; they are a statement, a celebration of African culture and Western influences seamlessly moulded into contemporary works of art. Banke herself is a testament to this fusion, having been born in Nigeria and then moving to the United Kingdom at a young age. Her dual cultural upbringing is said to be instrumental in shaping her unique creative vision.
Banke’s journey to fashion stardom was a deliberate one. She enrolled in a fine art foundation course at Central Saint Martins in London, laying the foundation for her artistic approach to fashion. However, her mother’s impeccable sense of style played a pivotal role in guiding her towards a career in fashion and textiles. It was a fusion of heritage and modernity, tradition and innovation. Her signature style is a testament to her commitment to artistry. She employs a digital approach to design, using vibrant colour palettes and intimate imagery to create breathtaking patterns and textiles. Her work knows no bounds when it comes to colours, tones, and prints. As she once told Vogue magazine UK, “Textiles are my canvas; I learned to work digitally, so there are no limitations on colours, tones, and prints. Unlike weaving, it’s quick to turn my artwork around.”
Banke Kuku’s rise to cult status is not just about the clothes she creates but also the impact she has had on the fashion industry.
Before launching her eponymous label, she worked at several international fashion houses and with the leading interior company, Designers Guild, assisting with fabric design for the Royal Collection, which was showcased at Buckingham Palace. She also launched an interior design arm to her business, which attracted orders from prestigious customers such as Selfridges, Aynhoe Park Hotel Oxford, Le Bon Marche Paris, and Bazar et Grande Manger Tokyo. Let’s not forget her stint as a fabric supplier for top fashion houses, collaborating with renowned designers such as Lisa Folawiyo, Duro Olowu, Burberry, Lot78, and Virgos Lounge.
What sets Banke apart is her inclusivity. Her designs cater to women of all shapes and sizes, breaking the stereotype that silk only belongs in the wardrobes of the slender. “We cater to women of all different sizes who normally would avoid silk because it shows off their lumps and bumps,” she explains. “But I make clothes that put a smile on people’s faces,” she adds, and indeed, her creations do just that.
In 2022, Banke Kuku became the first Nigerian designer to be stocked at Galeries Lafayette Doha. The groundbreaking trajectory of the brand led to a global, dynamic partnership between Banke Kuku and A-list actress Gabrielle Union.
The price range of Banke Kuku’s garments ranges from 100,000 to over a million naira, making them a luxury item for many. Yet, despite the premium price tag, every celebrity and fashion enthusiast covets a piece from her collection. Some are even willing to save up for months to own a Banke Kuku masterpiece. It’s a testament to the brand’s allure and its ability to transcend mere clothing and become an object of desire.
Her exclusive Spring/Summer 24 fashion show ‘tagged ‘EDEN’ was a monumental event that won’t be forgotten so soon. Every guest at the show wore a Banke Kuku piece, transforming the runway into a vibrant showcase of her creations. It was a celebration of diversity, individuality, and the brand’s ability to resonate with people from all walks of life.
As we look ahead to 2024, we can say for sure that Banke Kuku’s star will continue to shine. Her meteoric rise will continue to inspire upcoming brands, her pieces will continue to be coveted by fashion lovers, and her influence will only grow stronger.