Established by Kadiata Diallo in 2013, Niuku is a fashion brand characterized by it’s designer’s “afrofuturistic” approach, incorporating unique prints and promoting generations-old hand-dyeing techniques to create colorful styles that are designed to easily be incorporated into any wardrobe. Diallo started the brand while living in Paris and attending the fashion school Studio Berçot, and, in the beginning, her design aesthetic was admittedly conceptualized to appeal to the minimalist sensibilities of the European shopper. Since then however, Diallo has chosen to embrace a style that more accurately reflects her own, her brand’s minimalistic cuts, youthful spirit, and immaculate tailoring converging to create an aesthetic that captures the vibrancy of Diallo’s homeland of Mauritania.
Named for Diallo’s nickname, Niuku, one which she shares with her paternal grandmother, Diallo’s bright, handcrafted pieces are the epitome of simplicity. Breezy, feminine frocks sit alongside classically tailored jackets, delivering a sense of refined timelessness, while dynamic draping and billowing shapes communicate a modern elegance. Working mainly with natural fabrics like cotton, linen and silk, Diallo chooses these due to their ability to hold the colors produced through artisanal dyeing techniques. The brand also works with dead stocks fabric and reuses cloth cutoffs in their production process. For their handmade dyes, they work with local cooperatives to help them reduce the chemical waste and push them to work with natural dye.
As far as the brand’s industry accomplishments go, Kadiata became the first African woman to be named a finalist in the ANDAM Fashion Award contest in 2017. In addition, she participated in Paris Men’s Fashion Week in 2018, something no other black Mauritanian woman has done, and was a recipient of the Maison Mode Méditerranée prize in Marseille. Niuku also made its debut at Lagos Fashion Week earlier in 2022. There, Diallo unveiled her collection called “Sacred Woods,” which featured a striking sugarcane and indigo color dye scheme, and paid tribute to the “original Niuku”—her grandmother.
- Fashion Focus Africa, Lagos Fashion Week, Finalist, 2020
- Maison Mode Méditerranée, Laureate, 2018
- ANDAM Fashion Awards, Semi-Finalist, 2017