There’s an authentic cultural revolution happening within Lagos that was birthed from the streets and is now being felt all the way across the world.
We linked up with six thought leaders from the Trippin Community, who are pushing the boundaries and pioneering a new wave of sounds, fashion, and schools of thought within the city.
In collaboration with Farfetch we partnered with Bayo (Orange Culture), Alani Adenle, Ashley Okoli, JessJess Finesse and Solis in a photo series shot around Lagos. For someone who looks to capture a person as much as its backdrop, it was also a perfect moment to link with up Trippin’s close friend and local photographer, Stephen Tayo to bring this photo series to life.
Each member of our community chose a spot that represented who they were as a person and the influence it has had on each of their creative output.
We also caught up with all of them to discuss how the city has laid the foundations of who they are and what they do. From uncovering Lagos' new school of thought, the budding Alte scene and the local spirit that overcomes all obstacles, we truly uncovered the layers of this city.
‘The location I chose was Moist Beach Club. I love an outdoor feel with an indoor experience. I like to be able to do things outdoors with not so many people around and this place gives me that. It’s also beautifully lit, represents my culture and it's a nice space for people to be creative. A lot of designers come here to meet, network and get things done. So for me it’s special because a lot of the people who have been a part of my journey are people I met in this space. Lagos is my home and it’s my heart. It has a chaos to it that I can’t do without, and it’s something that you miss when you are away. When I am here I am at peace, and that feeling can’t be replaced.'
Talk to us about the development within the creative industry in Lagos since you got started?
Fashion within Lagos started from a space that was limited in terms of infrastructure, but in the past nine years I’ve seen massive growth. In terms of breaking down certain norms and constructs there are now multiple brands who are exploring the idea of androgyny and gender fluidity within clothing. It's translated in the way people photograph and style - men are wearing makeup, men are wearing handbags - and for the youth culture to embrace this and step up the levels is amazing. With time, we'll transcend a certain point. It’s exciting for sure.
Sounds like the school of thought is changing in Lagos?
Definitely. Culturally and socially people are becoming more open-minded. People have been so restrained and narrow minded in terms of exploring creativity and identity within fashion, music and the arts. It was very much a space where if you stepped out of it, you were ostracised.
Young people now don't care: they challenge politics, they challenge fashion stereotypes, and they challenge traditional views of depression and mental health. All these are discussions that would be swept under the carpet years ago. There’s a synergy within the community that promotes discussion and collaboration that is allowing all of us to evolve.
‘I’ve been living in Lagos since December 2017. When I first moved here, I didn't have my foot in what I wanted to do. I was given the opportunity to host a festival here in Lagos called Nativeland and it proved to me that I could do anything. I was born and raised in America, so I had to take a huge leap of faith to move to Nigeria despite advice from my parents and friends. People say, if you can survive in New York, you can survive anywhere, but truly, if you can survive Lagos, you can survive anywhere.'
What does travel mean to you?
Travel is escaping what you’ve been taught all your life to experience new cultures and new places which will naturally make you more open-minded and inclusive. The world is bigger than your immediate community and country. You need this form of escapism to break from the norms etched in your life from birth. I understand travel as a privilege that not everyone can do which is why, if I had my way, there would be a law that subsidised travel for young people.
Born and raised in Virginia, how does it feel coming back to your land of ancestry?
I remember when I was younger I didn't really identify with being Nigerian, I just thought of myself as American. Despite the American accent however, loving the food, going to school there and being totally immersed in the culture... there was still something that was off.
As much as I wanted to tone down my heritage and culture, it was always apparent that I was African. When I came back Nigeria, I gained my sense of self. You couldn't even pay me to live in America now. Nigeria is home and where I feel I belong.
Can you break down for us what Alte is and what it represents?
Yesss, for sure. Alte is a short form for alternative and was funnily enough coined by the group Teezee was in - DRB. Alte culture encompasses so many things from music, fashion to lifestyle. Anything that deviates from the norm is Alte.
People's different styles used to be met with scepticism, but we said no to that. You don't have to change how you express yourself for anybody. We think of Alte as a movement. It’s something that I will always shout out about.
‘I have lived in Lagos pretty much my whole life. When I was in secondary school, I thought I was actually going to be the next Kobe Bryant – that’s why I took these photos here. Other than basketball, I'm obsessed with Nigerian music. My proudest professional achievement is the documentary I made about being a twin in Nigeria. The reception, to this day, is beyond me. Most people don’t know this, but Nigeria is the country with the highest number of twins in the world, yet they are received as if something is wrong with them. It’s all about changing the script and not seeing them as an abomination, but a blessing. To me, Lagos means freedom. It’s the land of colour that holds a lot of possibilities to get anything you want in life. It’s endless. When I think about Lagos, I don’t think there is anything impossible to achieve.’
How did you get into photography?
I studied philosophy at university, but I pivoted and wanted to do something fresh. Studying philosophy made me more insightful though and it's something I always carry with me when I shoot and document. I try to tell stories through what I capture so people can discuss the photograph beyond the image itself. “Why is this person wearing fila?” “Why is it in this location?” The backdrop of my photos are important.
It’s important for us to partner up with local people who are influencing their own narratives. You’re doing just that here in Lagos.
It took me a long time to believe in the power I can share as an artist. I understand fashion as starting in the streets and ending in the streets. Lagos’ streets are an endless runway. People serve looks every day and you can't explain it. When you see it for yourself, you’re like “wow”. As an artist who relies on capturing the people and the streets they come from, to me, it is a blessing.
‘I have lived in Lagos all my life. I was born here and have been here ever since. I currently live in Lekki, but before that I lived in Surulere, where my family home is. Fundamentally, Lagos is where my roots are. It’s the only place I’ve lived in and the only place I really know. It’s my city, so in that way Lagos means the world to me, and our music and creativity make it a tolerable space. I immediately knew this would be the perfect spot to take these photos. The dress has clouds on it and Eko Atlantic is a bright open space and the clouds came out beautifully.
Tell us about the fashion scene in Lagos and its opportunities for women
I’d describe it as “wildly experimental”. And this is from my own view as I look at the newest generation of creatives emerging. There are even greater opportunities right now for women finding their way in fashion. We’re increasingly given the freedom to express ourselves without restrictions or being disparaged.
Talk to us about the influence of Alte within Nigeria
The music in Lagos right now, especially from the “alte scene”, is coming from groundbreaking, fashionable artists. As much as they make music they are really into the fashion scene. They understand it all so infusing my style with the musicians' on projects is such a quick and easy process. Styling for videos such as “Sparky” by Santi was effortless!
‘The best way to view Lagos and understand its world is through the streets. I was born here and I’ve lived here my whole life. My city is my history. It’s where my roots are and it defines who I am and who I am becoming. If you come here, I recommend going to this spot by the waterside in Lekki. It’s somewhere even some of the locals don't even know about and it has the best views in the city – really pretty. Also, make sure you try jollof rice'
How has Lagos influenced you and your music?
The scene in Lagos right now is made up of very small communities. In the community that I’m in, it encourages individuality, which HAS helped me come out of my shell. I used to feel like I was being over eccentric, but that acceptance of who I was allowed me to flourish. It’s important to take pride in being who you are regardless if the majority aren't accepting of it.
In Lagos, you're born with that spirit of hustling, fighting and getting through obstacles to keep moving forward. Everyday we’re making strides so we’ll all get there soon.
Tell us more about that hustler spirit.
The youth in Lagos, and Africa as a whole, are really trying to push the correct narrative because the world tends to define that for us. We’ve taken it into our own hands without permission - we’re now telling and showing people that this is our Lagos.
‘I was born and raised in Peckham, London, but I moved to Lekki, Lagos, two years ago. This city means a lot to me; it has so much heritage and it’s also where my parents are from. I chose to shoot these pictures here because there’s a lot of history, and it’s where my mum has been based for the past 25 years. I think it represents and speaks for all of Lagos. If you come here, I’d recommend going to Lufasi Park. Not many people go there, but it’s amazing. Also, make sure you try ofada rice and stew.’
Tell us about what it’s like to now be living in Nigeria.
At first, I didn't want to move to Nigeria! My mum tricked me! She told me to come and visit, but then I ended up staying. The feeling was great though. From arriving with apprehension and thinking that I wasn’t going to enjoy Nigeria to then realising how beautiful it was and is… that was eye-opening and exciting for me.
It’s interesting you had misconceptions of Lagos as a Nigerian yourself.
Even as a 2nd generation immigrant from Lagos, you still heard a particular narrative of Nigeria shared by outlets that aren’t representative of the country or its people. But then I pulled up, and it was different. Travel is all about adventure and an opportunity to get to know a city and, more truly, its people. I take this with me everywhere I go. It just took my mum to trick me to fully do this with Lagos, my home.