Soji Solarin was born in Nigeria and moved to the U.S. in his early teens. These experiences offered him an understanding of the differing iterations of blackness in both the contexts of Africa and America, which feeds into the designer’s work. Solarin graduated with a BA in Menswear design from the Academy of Art University. Prior to that, he completed a degree in Womenswear at the Fashion Institute of design and Merchandising.
Having experienced a number of contexts, Solarin’s work speaks to the malleability of black being. Not as a statement, as fact. Facts we see printed playfully on some of his T-shirts.
Soji Solarin queries that which is often overlooked. Asking significant questions such as: who are we ignoring and what are we assuming? Which categories have been denied their blackness, and how do we unearth them?
Soji Solarin on his collection ‘Negro Cowboy’: “I chose African American cowboys as a starting point for my rebrand because it was my current obsession at the moment. I always suspected the original cowboys to be Native Americans or Black given America’s history. It seemed a bit far fetched that people who could not be bordered to farm their own food and cotton were into herding cattle & cleaning up after horses.”
“The goal here is to interrogate as much as I can about history, specifically African and African American history. Growing up in Nigeria, I wasn’t taught about slavery but I was taught that some white lady named Elizabeth came to Nigeria as a missionary to save us from our savagery and killing twins. I didn’t know about slavery or racism till I was 13 and that has always bothered me, so I guess what I’m doing is educating myself through my art. My message through this collection is to question everything!”
Designer: Soji Solarin @sojisolarin
Styling: Olive Duran @oliveduran
Photography: Daan Dam @daantjedamage