After working within the fashion industry for over five years, Adeju Thompson founded Lagos Space Programme in 2018. The foundation of the designer’s creative work resides on sustainability and cultural preservation. They tell their story through experiences they endured in their journey towards becoming a noteworthy creator. As a queer individual, Thompson utilizes the creation processes of their collections as a method of understanding who they are in a deeper way. Thompson looks to the beauty of Lagos, their fascination with traditional Yoruba production processes, and the queer community around them to continue the stories being told in archival Nigerian fashion.
Debuted through the Lagos Space Programme, his brand dedicated to sartorial projects that explore multidisciplinary, collaborative futures, Adeju Thompson has debuted his eighth collection titled “Cloth as a Queer Archive.” Undaunted by the stark views that Nigerian culture has historically possessed on queerness, Thompson’s ‘Project 8’ collection explores Yoruba textile culture within the context of and alongside adornment practices among queer people, highlighting how dressing functions as both decorative and protective material.
“In addition to exploring queer semiotics,” Thompson explains, “the collection is also a study of minimalism from an African point of view. In the popular imagination, the African aesthetic is colorful, robust, and sometimes dynamic, in contrast to a ‘cleaner,’ pared-down European style.”
While these styles are present throughout the continent’s art, minimalism had existed as an essential part of Yoruba expression for centuries, long before Europeans impacted Nigerian society. Thompson approached the creation of this collection by celebrating the aesthetic and spiritual significance of bodily adornment in Yoruba culture. They particularly focused on the art of Adire, a resist-dye technique used to create indigo-dyed cloth by Yoruba women of southwestern Nigeria. In traditional Adire practice, the artist would engage with the medium as a means of storytelling. This creates a parallel with modern-day subcultures where queer communities share their stories through languages, symbols, and gestures exclusively to their own groups.
Adeju Thompson’s ‘Project 8’ collection celebrates the richness of transnational Black experiences, the versatility of Merino wool for complex garment production, the infinite possibilities of the marginal, and beauty as a form of defense.