Instagram’s @design launched their #BlackDesignVisionaries grant this year in partnership with The Brooklyn Museum, awarding a total of $130,000 to Black businesses and aspiring designers. Of the four multidisciplinary artists to receive funding, 23-year-old designer Taofeek Abijako received the top reward: he will receive $100,000 as Creative Director of his fashion label, Head of State. The other artists to be awarded include Dominique Petit-Frère, Sablā Stays, and Tré Seals.
Abijako, native to Lagos, Nigeria, has adopted New York as his second home and his upbringing in Albany, New York still serves as a major influence to his work. He designs clothing with an eye for functionality for city life, while still keeping his African flare present through referencing traditional Nigerian fashions. The five-year-old brand introduced womenswear for the first time in September’s spring 2022 collection. Historically, Head of State has been known for a number of firsts in the fashion industry. The youngest designer to show at men’s New York Fashion Week in 2018, Abijako is no stranger to accolades. Still, this grant is a huge milestone for any young designer.
“This grant offers more flexibility to properly structure the brand and expand our initiatives,” says Abijako over our call “The possibilities are endless, ranging from building a stronger e-commerce platform and design team to rolling out campaigns centered around telling the stories of the communities we care about. It’s important we create an ecosystem that not only tells stories about marginalized spaces, but also provides real opportunities in return.”
In his efforts to carry his vision further, Abijako is focused on creating a brand that feels more like a community.“HOS is born from this unique clashing of intersectionality and thrives in it, aiming to provoke and further a dialogue about the past, current and future state of marginalized spaces,” Abijako says.
Abijako is a Black visionary who has a keen eye for what’s new and next, extending beyond fashion. He takes his inspirations and applies them to a whole new universe of his own. For Head of State, this grant means not only security but also a sense of freedom to explore ideas from Abijako’s specific point of view. “It’s important to create a space that not only empowers and celebrates Black creatives, but also a culture around Black stories,” Abijako says. “This culture results in the creation of an equitable space where diverse ideas are welcome; while also serving as the gateway for us to reimagine a collective vision of what’s possible.”
For Head of State’s original supporters, who have kept up with the brand since Abijako launched it at the ripe old age of 17, there’s no doubt that community will always be key.