LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS: Blending Style and Sustainability

LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS: Blending Style and Sustainability

The African fashion industry is heeding the call to sustainability, by leaning into eco-friendly business models. As Fashionomics Africa, we are always excited to support these efforts, and more so, share the stories of innovators who are standing out by adopting sustainable business practices. This week, we feature LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS, a finalist of Fashionomics Africa’s first contest. We share how the green business is producing garments that keep its customers looking fashionable, whilst adhering to business processes that do not take a toll on the environment.

LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS is a Nigerian business that creates beautiful and sustainable clothes using zero waste techniques. The business was founded in 2019 by Anyebe Elizabeth Labake. According to the entrepreneur, the inspiration to start LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS began with her quest to learn textile design print. However, she ended up enrolling in a pattern drafting and construction course. The course further deepened her knowledge and experience in the fashion space, particularly in the mass garment production sector. Labake was also fortunate to have capable people who were willing to help her establish LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS. She benefited from the support of her mum who gave her the first taste of hand-me-downs and thrifts (called Okrika), as well as Chima, Mrs. Omoyemi Akerele, Mrs. Keji, Miss Chichi, her brother Desmond, and her work colleagues. “My inspiration is more of a couple of people, conversations, and events and not a person, conversation, and event. These people are my inspiration source, from their style to other characters of self and strength” says Elizabeth Labake, founder of LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS.


LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS makes use of a wide range of quality, second-hand, fairly used garments, called "OKRIKA", and generational hand me down garments (heirlooms) from family and friends. They also have fabric merchants that sell various types of fabric textile, which vary in quantity and quality. With these channels of material sourcing, they combine the skill-set of product design and a technical production team of skilled artisans available in their communities, to create a physical product. All of LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS’ products are made in safe conducive spaces, by skilled artisans drawn from various communities. These artisans can either be solo entrepreneurs providing specialized services like printing and embroidery, or social enterprise factories that perform multiple operations. LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS also offers product development and consultation services. The business sources material for production hubs that make garments of a minimum order quantity of 50 pieces, across a maximum of four designs.

As an environmentally conscious business, LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS targets individuals who value heritage crafts, and contributions to the environmental and social capital of people. “Our target market is of a lifestyle that seeks to express itself through identity which goes beyond birth parents, but deeper to ancestry, revealing possible and existing weaknesses and strength to be harnessed to level the playing field of life” said Elizabeth Labake. LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS believes there is a need to balance traditional craftsmanship and innovation, in ways that do not deplete the earth's resources. The business is therefore ready to take the slow and sure route of sustainability. However, sustainability means there is demand for more research and development funding, to finance ethical sourcing of materials and fair workers' treatment. This in turn affects the business’ profitability.

At the moment, LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS is undergoing test runs.  It released a collection named ATUNSE tote, which is made from garment factories' offcuts and some damask fabrics obtained from family and friends. The project was welcomed warmly by the public. With this project, LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS has seen that there is a market available, but more research is still being carried out to get more numerical data.


The green business notes that it has realized the importance of having an open mind and a teachable spirit. “I have the vision and the responsibility to pass this vision to my team and prospective collaborators. Bearing in mind our different backgrounds and wirings which influence how we see things and the data we curate. Emotional agility is key for me currently” says Elizabeth Labake. LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS reiterated that keeping an open mind and having a teachable spirit are relevant now more than ever, given the challenges faced by the African fashion industry. The business also highlighted that research and development funding is one of its biggest challenges, as it influences the ability to build a skilled workforce, as well as sourcing materials ethically and locally. To overcome these challenges, the business indicated that it requires access to funding to enable it to deal with sourcing challenges and to also afford investing in research and development. The business also noted the importance of empowerment programs that cover both technical skills and entrepreneurial knowledge. 

LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS’ view on the African Fashion Industry 

I believe Africa is sustainable. We have a history of growing our food, nurturing our bodies and communities. There is room for more and I believe this has more to do with acceptance of self, and harnessing our strengths rather than playing to our weakness or lack. There is a way to balance traditional craftsmanship and modern-day innovation and it should not be done in a competitive or show-off manner but more of a complementing way. “It takes two to tango" is a modern way of saying "The discipline of a child belongs to the village not only the biological parents”- Elizabeth Labake, founder of LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS.

At the moment, LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS is working on a new collection called Spring Summer 21, and themed “Reinvented Heritage.” To learn more about LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS’ work, visit their Instagram page.

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LÀBÁKÈ LAGOS: Blending Style and Sustainability

Jul 02, 2021
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