Living in Lagos, Nigerian stylist and photographer Stephen Tayo witnesses first-hand how style is a way of life. “When you wear the same fabric as somebody, you see how close you really are,” he explains.
Currently documenting drag subculture in Nigeria, Tayo’s work has been featured in Vogue, Dazed and The New York Times, with the latter assignment photographing Lagos street style alongside artist, photographer and writer Jan Hoek.
For Heimtextil, the pair bring their collaborative approach to realising the Multi-Local trend.
“First and foremost, the idea of myself and my beautiful friend Jan Hoek collaborating was actually to come together and find a way in which we can bring about sharing ideas that could be beneficial to both of our cultures. Because it’s also a very difficult perspective when an African artist and Western artist come together. Difficult in my opinion doesn’t necessarily mean difficult, but difficult in a vague sense, ‘cause everyone I know actually never really tried to see what collaboration can bring, especially if it’s from what I call different worlds.”
The “different world” that Tayo lives and works in is one that celebrates interiors. “It’s really a big part of our culture, to be honest. People have different tastes and go for what they want. For example, Mrs Sal Gbajabiamila – one of the beautiful personalities photographed for the story – has amazing taste. The quirky interiors in her house could be termed unusual but that’s her style and her taste. People, in general, are very open to different kinds of interiors, from my experience. It’s really a big part of our lifestyle. Just like the way we see and take fashion seriously.”
Among younger generations this rings true, where Tayo observes an openness towards expressing local culture via different mediums.
“There’s a huge rise in the value of culture amongst younger generations, beyond looking down on it or taking it for granted. For example, people consume more music from local artists and fashion designers are more ethical.”
As the Multi-Local trend shows, local styles are becoming layered with global influences.
“To be honest, the world we live in at the moment is very experimental and open to influences, especially with the Internet. People sometimes feel like the world is at their fingertips,” he says.
“But I do think it is beyond looking at the world via the internet, but experiencing it physically. Influences do occur from other regions, but I doubt it’s taking over local influences. Local influences really are a way of living that is culturally bound. No matter how the people look outside, it still boils down to blending it with what they already have.”