HERITAGE 1960: African fashion for the global consumer
During our recent trip to New York we had the pleasure to meet up with Nigerian fashionista Enyinne Owunwanne. Enyinne is the founder of the stylish e-commerce website HERITAGE 1960 that offers a curated view of global African fashion, lifestyle and design. Named after the year 17 African countries gained their independence in 1960, H1960 celebrates creativity, individuality and style inspired by the continent. We had a chat with Enyinne about H1960, fashion from the African continent, and her favourite contemporary African designers.
The birth of Heritage 1960
H1960 seems to be the process of two parallel forces that in time were linked. While working on Wall Street in 2008, Enyinne opened a vintage retail pop-up shop in Harlem with a friend. It began as a hobby but turned out to be a lucrative business. She then decided to pursue a Masters Degree in Global Fashion Management to better understand the business side of the apparel industry. After graduating she worked as a US Business Development Manager at London-based trend forecasting company Worth Global Style Network (WGSN) where she gained valuable experiences and further knowledge to the industry.
Enyinne was born in America to Nigerian parents, but grew up in Kuwait and has travelled extensively throughout her life. Like the rest of us she was continuously confronted with negative and unbalanced representations of the continent that didn’t complete or match her own experiences. On her numerous travels around the world she discovered just how far-reaching and forceful African culture is: “Africa has unparalleled designs and I wanted to start a brand to elevate images of Africa from that of purely AIDS and poverty,” says Enyinne. Because, as she continues, “many people are unaware of the rich and diverse offerings that ultimately stem from the continent.”
“Africa offers so much more than kente cloth and wax prints, and it’s time we move beyond the cliché’s and begin to acknowledge that fashion coming from the continent is as rich, varied and sophisticated as anything you’d find in the US, Europe or Asia.” -Enyienne Owunwanne
The Missing Link
The missing link, as Enyinne calls it, to incorporate African culture and heritage in her own retail business was born in 2009 when she started H1960. And in many ways H1960 is Enyinne’s way of shedding light on and to dispel preconceived notions about African fashion, design and creativity. Her dream was to provide a platform where consumers could learn about African culture—both past and present—and purchase items that reflect a global sensibility with an African soul. And she has created exactly this.
With a main focus on retail, H1960 lets global buyers browse and buy handpicked items from some of the most talented designers from the continent. Most recently a collection of handmade travel accessories from Kenyan Buyu by Jamhuri Wear was introduced (see images below). And travelling becomes just a little more fun and luxurious accompanied by these at once ethnic, retro and contemporary stylish items. In the future, Enyinne will also present her own collection on H1960 as she is currently working on various leather accessories made in her home country Nigeria.
HERITAGE 1960 is one of the only websites where global consumers can buy items from both upcoming and established African designers. But more importantly, it is an extensive vocabulary of style, creativity, fashion, design, culture and beauty from the continent, where you can lean back, look, and be inspired.
Visit H1960 MUSE on Tumblr for more inspiration.
Enyienne’s TOP 3 African designers
Laurence Airline Paris based designer Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud creates structured and tailored men- and womens wear. Laurence Airline is currently working on a collaborative project in Ivory Coast, teaching local people couture sewing techniques.
Maki Oh, Nigeria. Aroused by a strong sense of identity and African culture Maki Oh blends traditional techniques with detailed construction creating alluring pieces for a global audience.
Tsemaye Binitie Nigerian UK based designer Tsemaye Bibitie creates structured and elegant womens wear in a minimalistic and contemporary style.