Cynthia Abila was founded by Nigerian designer Cynthia Otiyo-Abila in 2016. Passionate about African cultures and the tradition of storytelling that characterizes it, these customs inform Otiyo-Abila’s design approach and aesthetic, which is known for its feminine polish and avant-garde silhouettes. “I love well-crafted narratives that I express through my pieces to capture people’s attention and evoke positive emotions,” she said in an interview with Mess Mag.
Based in Abuja, Cynthia Abila garments are produced entirely locally, right from design and conceptualisation through to material sourcing and construction. The brand promotes this ethos through offering vital work opportunities to artisans from the surrounding areas and providing essential training to local communities. Conscious of the fact that women represent around 70% of their workforce, they’ve also adopted flexible work policies to allow them to better support their families.
Cynthia Abila pieces are mostly made from locally hand-woven cotton which is a traditional fabric of bold colorful patterns indigenous to the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. Elements of traditional style and culture through elaborate coral beadwork, which indicates identity and status within the community. Created with women of varying shapes and sizes in mind, the brand’s offering of tailored classics, resort wear-inspired jumpsuits, draped, floor-length dresses, and more is designed with an urban, sophisticated everyday woman, one who Otiyo-Abila says “appreciates value, top quality, and versatile style that flourishes into a timeless piece.” In 2019, the designer was named the winner of the annual Lagos Fashion Week Fashion Focus Fund alongside runners up and fellow Nigerian designers Faith Oluwajimi and Adenike Adegboye.
- WGSN Future Makers Programme, 2021
- Lagos Fashion Week, Fashion Focus, Winner, 2019