Meet the Designer Who is Bringing Ankara couture to The Bay Area
“They say to know where you're going you must know where you come from, I didn't anticipate my clothes will make people feel good about themselves,” says the creator of Lola's African Apparel, Ifafunke Campbell.
Her vigorous prints, authentic Nigerian Ankara style clothing - asymmetrical layer blouses; vibrant dashikis; high waisted pleated skirts- have sparked the reconnection to one's roots in the Bay Area.
Literally, bringing African couture to the Bay Area, Campbell personally hand selects each fabric in Nigeria. Garments are manufactured and sewn by independent seamstress and tailors in West Africa. Each piece which ranges from XXS-28 is uniquely made to be machine washable.
At eight-years-old Campbell moved to the United States, which took her 20 years to get custom to the Bay Area. She shared memories of those who taunted her because of cultural differences including her name and the ignorant misconceptions of Africa. What she finds most interesting is that in Nigeria, she stands out like a sore thumb and is viewed as an American in America, she stands out as a Nigerian. The designer declares she’s equally both.
Campbell expressed her involvement in San Francisco State University's cultural activities led her to appreciate being different.
Moreover, reminiscing on her past photos, without a doubt the designer has always had two hangers or more for her traditional garments in her closet. In college, she was spotted. Rocking her yellow Guinea brocade outfit then, flick. Someone captured a photo and surprisingly she was featured on the SFSU graduation banner.
“It wasn't something I was trying to do it just felt natural as an African to wear African clothes on such a big day,” she states. "Clothes are the quickest way to change your attitude about yourself and people to change their attitude about you, clothes are just a very direct way of saying who you are and what you are about.
The designer declares exploring African fashion enables black folks to become more grounded in who they are. Through her personal interaction with clients, she proudly witnessed them feeling empowered.
Campbell also shares how it's breathtaking to be amongst black folks avoiding negative aggressions by exchanging giggles and compliments. When it comes to building connections with her clients” it goes way beyond being superficial” she hopes to continue to spread love, "bubbles of laughter", and unity.
In her words, “If I can help foster that and if I can experience that for myself because I have a lot of pain within my own community,I just feel like this is the perfect opportunity.”