In Nigerian Yoruba culture, Ochosi is the Orisha, or god, of hunting. It is with this same spirit in mind that Akin Adebowale and Kolade Adeyemo co-founded Oxosi, a retail space that is the first of its kind, and aims to provide international e-commerce, content, and community for contemporary brands from Africa and around the world. “We’re opening up a new market and guiding the world through what they see us, as which is Africa,” Akin Adebowale tells Refinery29. “Its own dark continent, its own continent of discovery.”
Think of Oxosi as a Opening Ceremony or Dover Street Market if you will, curating luxury and contemporary African design brands for commerce, while producing original content. Presently, the company is home to 30 designers and brands, including Brother Vellies, Maki Oh, Selly Raby Kane, Bridget Awosika, and Loza Maleombh. “How do you create a channel for creators and cultural engineers in one part of the world,” Adebowale asked, to introduce them to the Canada, America, or Europe? Essentially, they bring products in, see the model, the talent, shoot the campaign and then try to tell an interesting story about it through a series of productions and partnerships.
The secret to their success is in the marketing. “One of the things that we’re really excited about at this stage is how we continue to tell the artist’s stories in creative and new ways outside look books or seasonal campaigns,” Adeyemo said. One of those new ways Oxosi includes their relationship with HBO’s hit comedy, Insecure. The show’s costume designer Ayanna James is a really good friend of both Adebowale and Adeyemo, and has so so far featured a n***as sweatshirt from New York-based label Omondi (worn by Issa Rae on the first episode of the second season), and on Sunday, Rae wore the Reflection Adire dress from Nigerian designer Amaka Osakwe’s line, Maki Oh.
And like Opening Ceremony or Dover Street Market, an in-house clothing line may be in the works. “We’ve been having internal dialogues around private label, private commerce to see what it’s like” said Adeyemo. “Opening Ceremony started off with Kenzo and other brands but Opening Ceremony itself is a brand. We’ve always been interested in this idea of building cultural cache [through fashion] shows. [We can build a] brand that starts off with the basics and based on the reception can [become] as intricate as we choose.”