Founded in 2011 by Nigerian designer Banke Lawson, Banke Kuku is her eponymous brand that she established in Lagos after returning home from a childhood spent in London. Growing up, she was largely influenced by the sophisticated minimalism of fashion houses like Céline and the eclecticness of West African prints, and following a course in Fine art at Central Saint Martins as well as a Fashion and Textiles Degree from Chelsea College of Art and Design, she launched her fabric-focused label.
Given the moniker “Queen of Color” whilst working for fashion house Jasmine Di Milo, Lawson draws on her cultural heritage to create bespoke patterns and textiles rich with colour and texture. Intricate and luxurious, her signature prints are emblazoned upon siken fabric and include adire-inspired splatter designs, animal print, and leaf motifs. Not only has she supplied fabrics to designers like Duro Olowu, Lisa Folawiyo, and Burberry, Lawson also employs them in her creation of slip dresses, flowing agbada kaftans, pajama-style blouses, modern interpretations of the kimono, as well as decorative interior pieces like cushions. “Textiles are my canvas,” Lawson told British Vogue of her process. “I work digitally, so there’s no limitations on colours, tones and prints. Unlike weaving, it’s quick to turn my artwork around.”
Lawson’s garments are artful representations of a medley of cultures, yet are contemporary and practical enough for everyday wear. She prides herself on catering to women of all different sizes. Through her collaborations with major designers, her pieces have been seen on the likes of Tiwa Savage, Michelle Obama, and Kelis, while her interior range has been stocked by major retailers including Selfridges London.