In a moving feature in Vogue’s December 2020 issue, Alexis Okeowo writes about growing up in a Nigerian-American household in Alabama, surrounded by a community of fantastically dressed and unapologetically bold women. The story, titled “Family Values,” features fashion imagery by Nadine Ijewere. In the photos, models styled by Vogue’s Contributing Editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson wear bright printed and patterned clothes from designers including Kenneth Ize, Marine Serre, and Wales Bonner, and the Vogue newcomer Nigerian-British designer Iniye Tokyo James.
Dividing his design and production between London and Lagos, James creates gender-fluid suiting using Savile Row tailoring and traditional African techniques and textiles. He also makes shirting, outerwear, and bags. In “Family Values,” model Kesewa Aboah wears his loosely cut lime green vegan leather blazer and pants. The look that speaks not just to James’s skill as a designer, but also to the “intersections”—menswear with womenswear, simplicity with complexity, and old with new—that define his work.
“There is a beauty in balance and as a brand we are rooted in the philosophy of aiming to push the boundaries of tailoring by manipulating its core principles,” James says. “We combine techniques used in European tailoring and mix them with African techniques to create something new and fresh.”
James is currently in Nigeria, working on an under-wraps project that aims to give back to the local community. “Another reason for me being here is that I want to help teach people about the technicality of garment construction as a means to help reduce unemployment within the youth population,” he says. James works closely with every member of his team when conceptualizing a new collection, making sure, he explains, “to showcase Africa to the world and interpret it from a fresh standpoint. Doing this, while still keeping my British heritage is at the core of everything we do at Tokyo James.”