Step into our new series, “Personal Fashion Journey,” where we dive into the lives of fashion lovers. We explore their style evolution and memorable fashion moments from models to stylists, writers to creators. Peek into their closets and hear about their challenges and dreams. It’s a fun and inspiring look at the fashion world, one unique story at a time. Join us as we uncover what makes the fashion world tick – style, creativity, and innovation!
I spoke to Joy Akingbe, a model and fashion entrepreneur, for our Personal Fashion Journey premiere. Drawing inspiration from her chic mother and the iconic world of Barbie, Joy’s early influences define her elegant and creative fashion journey. Her wardrobe essentials showcase a refined taste, and she perceives fashion as a dynamic force. As an entrepreneur, Joy breathes life into her vision of elegance with a twist, crafting a lasting style legacy.
Can you share some of your early fashion influences or memories that shaped your style?
My fashion obsession began with a primary school beauty contest, where I became the unofficial queen. I was all about colour coordination – pink top, pink buttons, and a vivid memory of my late mom decking me out in a clash of pink and green for a school party. She even left her salon at midday to fetch green accessories when I demanded a change.
My mom was my fashion enabler, always supporting my quirky style choices without hesitation. I inherited her knack for matching accessories – she’d coordinate her purse with her shoes, and I picked up the habit, too. Even without a sewing machine, I’d craft designs by hand, a budding fashion rebel.
TV never held my interest; I was more into exploring fashion on my phone or laptop, honing my style instincts.
Looking back, do you think anything you watched on your devices influenced you?
I liked Barbie because she loved pink, just like me, and I wanted to look like her. I started wearing ponytails because Barbie did. Wigs weren’t popular back then, but my mom made cool hairstyles for me.
So, Barbie and some cartoons influenced me, but it was mostly my mom. She loved fashion, and I learned a lot about it from her.
Now that you’ve grown older, How has being a model and muse influenced your style?
Being a model and muse has made me believe I can key into any style. Be it streetwear, chic, or artsy. It boosted my confidence because I look good in anything you put me in.
If I decide to be chic today or minimal, it would still come out great, and I would still look terrific. And that’s why I’m not stuck with a particular fashion style. I change my style; today, you might see me being minimal. Then, the next day, I want to do extra. I want to go all out and then, another day, another style. I just have that confidence that I can always do anything.
A flex, indeed. How has your style evolved from what it was, say, three years ago to what it is now, and why do you think it grew?
I was new in the industry, and I wanted to be relevant, so I was trying a lot of things, a whole lot. I was being flamboyant. I was being chic. It was just a lot, and people liked the flashy side. At that time, I just had this confidence from nowhere. I would just wear anything, and one time, I made my hair into this high kiko, wore a dress, and stepped out like that. And trust me, it isn’t something I would do now because I’m over it. But people said, ‘Wow, you have this mad confidence’. It’s not like I don’t have that confidence now, but it’s not just what I’m into anymore.
Evolution is good; it’s everything. Again, the models that I love now influence me. Elsa Hosk and Hailey Beiber are my favourites right now. They are minimal, but they always eat with their looks. I recently recreated a look from Elsa. She might just wear a simple dress and do a bit of accessorising, but it’s still going to look good. I’m in my less is more era.
Understanding that you can fit into any style, what would you consider the key elements of your personal style?
I pick my style based on how time passes—let me explain. What I liked last year isn’t my thing now; I’m changing. I switch it up because I quickly get bored. It’s similar to how I used to have no hair, and now I’m growing it.
Right now, I like to keep things simple. I’m into looking chic and a bit sexy. But overall, it depends on what I’m into and who I am then. Next year, I might stop wearing simple, elegant dresses and start trying bold looks because I’ve been inspired by Julia Fox, who’s been dressing cool. So, my fashion style is constantly changing; I don’t stick to one thing.
I like that. So, are there any particular wardrobe essentials you can’t live without?
Dresses? I can’t get enough. Short, long, cutouts—I adore them all. Baggy jeans, too—they pair so well with a tiny top, and the look is just perfect. Accessories are a must for me. I can’t step out without them; they complete the whole vibe. I’m all about statement pieces, whether it’s a bold earring with a minimal necklace or the other way around. And bracelets? Definitely. Rings used to be my thing, but you know how life goes.
I understand that. Tell us about your brand, Kuwa Jng. What was its inspiration, and how has it been running the brand?
My brand is a reflection of my current fashion sense and style. My first collection was a significant reflection of how I was so in love with colours. I just really liked colours. I was flamboyant and artsy, so the collection reflected that. It was playful.
My second collection reflects where I am now. When I was six or eight, I liked being skinny. But at 13 and 14, I started feeling insecure about my body, so I wore baggy clothes. Now, I’m past that phase. I wear tight dresses, show my collarbone, and don’t worry about what others think. I used to avoid short clothes because I felt my calves looked too masculine. I needed people’s approval then, but not anymore. Evolution is crucial—body changes, mental state, and surroundings all play a part in fashion. It’s about expressing yourself through clothes, and that remains true for me.
I’ve noticed how much I adore my brand being a reflection of myself. When I wear something that makes me feel good, I wish for another woman to experience the same, regardless of size or colour. I want her to embrace the joy of loving a dress just as I do. I’ve reached a stage where I genuinely love my body and myself. It’s a sentiment I’m reflecting on, hoping that the next woman feels that same love and appreciation for herself.
How has it been running it?
Balancing modelling, school, and my brand is challenging but enjoyable. It’s a lot of work, yet the fulfilment I get from it makes it all worth it. I love doing it because, in the end, I can proudly say, “Yes, I did this.”
You’re doing great. What are your future aspirations with your style?
I’m the type of person who sticks with what I love. Right now, I’m really into this. I can’t predict the future or how I might change because of new people and things happening. But one thing’s for sure—I always want to look elegant, no matter what I wear. My brand will always show my current style, whatever that might be down the road.
Elegant is the exact word I use to describe your style. So we’ll play a game now. I’ll show you an outfit from your Instagram feed, and you tell us its story.
For this one, I got invited to an event. It was a perfume launch, and as usual, I’m in my minimal chic era. The first one had this floral design around it, and it wasn’t giving what I wanted.
I ordered another one. It was nice, but It had this cut-out on the side and a zip on the other side, but I couldn’t amend it to fit perfectly at the time. Then I saw this one in red, but I didn’t want red, so I ordered it in white and fell in love. Now I have three of them in different colours. It was perfect for what I was going for.
It’s funny because this is the dress I mentioned I recreated from a look on Elsa. This dress is from one of my fashion influences.
I went for a premiere of the new Ashluxury collection, and the brand sent me the tank top. I didn’t know how to style it to fit my style now, but you know how I said I love baggy jeans. I tried it on with it but changed my mind to baggy jorts and platform slippers, and it came out perfect. It’s similar to what I said about being a designer’s muse. They just put you in something, and suddenly, it looks good. Because if it were left to me, I would have picked a dress, but I love how it turned out.
Unveiling the Story Behind Joy’s Style
Joy Akhigbe’s fashion journey is a captivating evolution of growth and self-expression. From early influences to her role as a model and entrepreneur, she embraces various styles, balancing flamboyance with minimal chic. Her brand, Kuwa Jng, mirrors phases of playfulness and elegance, reflecting her current fashion sensibilities.
Amidst industry challenges, Joy’s versatility shines through, inspired by icons like Elsa Hosk and Hailey Bieber. Her fashion aspirations focus on maintaining elegance while navigating the unpredictable nature of style evolution.
Joy’s Instagram posts narrate stories—a sought-after dress, an Elsa-inspired look recreation, and surprising pairings at premieres. Her narrative inspires us to cherish our personal fashion journeys. Join us as we continue to watch Joy’s story unfold, one empowering choice at a time.