Meet Mai Atafo, one of Africa’s most successful fashion designer

Meet Mai Atafo, one of Africa’s most successful fashion designer

Mai Atafo is a Nigerian fashion designer who rose to become one of Africa’s most successful fashion designers. He is the founder of his fashion brand Atafo and has gained recognition beyond the African fashion industry into the world.

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Ohima Atafo was born in Ile-Ife, Osun State, and later relocated to Lagos where he spent some early years. He moved to Benin City and attended the University Staff School Benin before attending the Federal Government College Ido-Ani, Ondo state for his university education.

Mai Atafo while in university helped his friends pick clothes after they noticed his interest in fashion. This helped him understand the quality of clothes better. However, he would also spot some nice designs that he couldn’t afford and this became a motivation for him to start his fashion brand.

Meet Mai Atafo, one of Africa’s most successful fashion designer

Mai Atafo in an interview revealed his love for clothes started when he was growing up.

” I did home economics in secondary school so I used to sew aprons and stuff with my hands, and fiddle with my mom’s sewing machines. I broke a few needles and made myself a few knapsacks in secondary school but I never thought it was anything because I enjoyed doing it,” he revealed in an interview.

After bagging his first degree in Nigeria, he went to the City University of the United Kingdom for a Master’s degree in Information systems and Technology. This became an opportunity for him to expose himself to more fashion in the UK.

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Upon returning to Nigeria in 2002, his first job was with British American Tobacco Nigeria where he joined the marketing department. After 4 years there, he moved to Guinness Nigeria as Brand manager. While acting as a brand manager of Guinness, the opportunity to reawaken his fashion dreams came to life.

“I started by making asooke waistcoats for weddings for a couple of friends. Usually, the brides had their colors sorted out but the guys could not afford to get a new purple or lilac suit, so I thought we could still do something with the color of the day. I specially ordered lilac and purple asooke with which I designed the waistcoats. Everybody looked good on the day and people really liked the outcome. I did it for about six other weddings and that was the beginning of Mai Atafo Inspired,” he recalled in an interview.

Mai Atafo has designed for different celebrities including Banky W, Omowunmi, and the likes. in 2011, he launched a wedding line called “Weddings by Mai”. His designs have been recognized by a lot of people and he also received the City People Fashion and Style Awards as the hottest new designer Male.

He was also featured as the Fab Magazine Fashion brand of the year 2010 and the Mode Men magazine fashion designer of the year 2010. He also launched the “Follow Mai Heart” campaign in partnership with Moet and Chandon. Mai Atafo also served as a key player in some fashion shows including the Heineken Lagos Fashion Week and Arise fashion week.

Below are some of his designs:

Photo credit: Instagram

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