Fashion

Introducing Lu by Lu: the Bag Brand Bringing Traditional Textiles From Lagos to London

Hypebae speaks to founder Louie Akinwale to find out more about the new Nigerian-inspired luxury label.

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Introducing Lu by Lu: the Bag Brand Bringing Traditional Textiles From Lagos to London

Hypebae speaks to founder Louie Akinwale to find out more about the new Nigerian-inspired luxury label.

For founder Louie Akinwale, design has always been in the family. It was during lockdown that he spotted some early prototypes of beaded bags made by his aunt in Nigeria and after a few minor changes and feedback from friends, Lu by Lu was born. The luxury label specializes in beaded bags and accessories, aiming to fuse Akinwale’s Nigerian heritage with his London life and celebrate the creativity of the African diaspora through a sustainable lens.

“I take inspiration from the world around me. Growing up in East London and coming from the Nigerian diaspora, I try to fuse both of my cultures. Nigeria is a place of vibrancy, so we aim to emanate this in our collections with bold and punchy tones,” Akinwale tells Hypebae.

As the brand just released its first-ever campaign, we spoke with Akinwale to find out more about Lu by Lu’s creative process, the inspiration behind the brand’s vibrant designs and why a dining experience is next on the agenda.

Read on for our interview with founder Louie Akinwale and head to Lu by Lu’s website for a closer look at its offering.

nigerian lagos bag beading models woman running masks

Tell us a bit about how you got started with Lu by Lu? what spurred you on to start the brand?
Lu by Lu started as a small passion project during lockdown. My mother, who was a designer, was looking at prototypes of accessories made by my aunt in Nigeria. I stumbled across them in the kitchen and quickly gave suggestions for development. I ran with the idea, showed it to a few friends, and loved the feedback. Then, it became a thing. Two years later, we have global placements in major retail stores and exhibited in the adidas London flagship store.

Where does your inspiration come from in terms of colour palettes and designs?
I take inspiration from the world around me. Growing up in East London and coming from the Nigerian diaspora, I try to fuse both of my cultures. Nigeria is a place of vibrancy, so we aim to emanate this in our collections with bold and punchy tones. Each bag has a distinctive silhouette and is covered in geometric shapes however a lot of our patterns are a reference to a football or the flower of life, at the forefront, we carry forward our African heritage through beadwork.

nigerian lagos bag beading models woman running masks

How does your creative process work? Where do you source your materials?
A lot of my creativity comes from conversations. I’m very lucky to have some great people around me who help elevate my thinking. It also helps massively that I enjoy reading, which is part of my daily routine. I am constantly creating concepts and mood boards, taking references, and providing design solutions. I discuss these ideas with my team, and we begin the process. All our materials are ethically sourced. We take discarded materials and upcycle them into a diverse range of products, from bags to belts and homeware. Everything is handmade in Lagos, Nigeria.

The new campaign touches on lu by lu’s Nigerian heritage with nods to London, how did you come up with the concept?
We launched a new bag called the “danfo,” which is traditionally known in Nigeria as an iconic yellow minibus that carries passengers in Lagos. This was our first travel luggage, so we wanted to create desirability. In Nigeria, we have a terminology called “carry GO!” which translates to “get away!” So, I thought we could create a concept of a money heist. The campaign sees a group of mobsters rioting the streets of East London in search of the highly anticipated Danfo bag. We shot and filmed in East London, and our subtitles were in pidgin English, giving reference to our African diaspora.

 

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Sustainability is a key pillar of the brand’s ethos, why is that important to you? How do you ensure the designs are created sustainably?
Nigeria has an unemployment rate of over 33.10 and there’s a huge gap in supply of trained designers due to unavailability of professional schools and universities offering specialised courses in fashion. As a result, we aim to endorse our community with more innovation and craftsmanship and create a circular economy that holds the key to a prosperous and sustainable industry, from Lagos to the rest of the world.

We ensure that our designs are created sustainably as we take full responsibility for what we produce. We also offer a service to our community where any broken bags can be exchanged for a new one if they recycle their damaged bag with us. Adding to that, we always ensure that we use long-lasting materials, and because our product is handmade, it requires fewer resources and relies on using traditional textiles.

nigerian lagos bag beading models woman running masks

Who do you design for? Who do you hope will buy into the brand?
We are very inclusive with our approach. We welcome lovers of the eclectics and hope our products can reflect a community of conscious buyers.

Finally, what are your plans for the future? How do you see the brand developing over the years?
As a brand, we hope to scale our artistry through collaboration. I have a key interest for supercars so it would be dope to create a concept and build a story for a brand like Mercedes Benz or Porsche. That would be a dream. We are currently in talks to produce our own festival so that is very exciting, but mainly we want to continue our community building creating installations and exhibitions around the globe. I’ve also got plans to diversify segments of the business and expand into new categories, creating a dining experience of Nigerian cuisine serving the most delicious plantain and Jollof rice.

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