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Introducing Maxivive with creative director Papa Oyeyemi

Yohannes Henriksson

Lagos-based fashion brand Maxivive is an activist organisation founded in 2007 by creative director, Papa Oyeyemi. Fusing together the brand’s notions of nonconformity with garment-making, Maxivive has been recognised for its innovation through design. Exploring the potential to be found in materials and the use of traditional techniques, the brand’s latest showcase in Amsterdam, Dry/Wet ‘23, made a stir. The collection brings together design elements drawn from Maxivive’s past sixteen years and is a result of Oyeyemi’s extensive research into artisanal methods and aesthetic futurism. Falling in love with not only the collection, but the story behind it, Glamcult spoke with Papa Oyeyemi, and invite Maxivive into the Glamcult Store from this Friday. 

You recently showcased the Dry/Wet ‘23 collection here in Amsterdam. Can you tell me
about the story behind the collection and its name, Ebenezer?
The Ebenezer building complex in Lagos, Nigeria is a microcosm of the metropolis itself. It is a chaotic mix of commercial and residential use, legal and illegal occupancy, and permanent and transient populations. It is a hybrid place filled with every kind of urban denizen and subculture – tenants, squatters, hustlers, refugees – and a place of stark and often stunning contrasts.

The name Ebenezer means “stone of help” in Hebrew, and The Pink Lounge is the warm, Queercore of Ebenezer. It is where the two ex-lovers Akasha and Dame find a home amongst a family of sexually diverse friends. Together, they brave the dangers of living in an unpredictable environment where one’s neighbour could be an ally or an assailant, where survival depends on the bonds of Queer love and community. Just like The Ebenezer, Akasha and Dame are a play of similarities and contrasts – both femme, but one a proud yet deeply conflicted top, the other a shameless power bottom.

This collection can be understood as a continuation of your exploration into gender diversity
in Africa. Can you talk me through this exploration, why it is important to you, and how the collection translates this message?
Continuing our series exploring gender diversity in Africa through the prism of The Pink Lounge, Maxivive presents the Ebenezer [He/They] Dry/Wet 2024 ready-to-wear collection. Our concerns now shift to the geometries, politics and poetry of modern urbanism in the Global South. This groundbreaking collection highlights the structural nature of Maxivive’s radical approach: traditional kembe trousers with the sartorial lines of Western baggy jeans, or collage-like ensembles and jockstraps composed of materials like woven grass, muslin and gaberdine, and adorned with crystals, lace and glitter-infused wool.

Stas Vokman

Stas Vokman

Creating and designing for the past sixteen years, can you talk us through your journey within the creative industry and fashion industry?
I founded the activism-focused fashion enterprise, Maxivive, in Lagos, Nigeria, at the age of fifteen, and I now lead a team of fifteen that includes artisans, studio personnel, and producers. I oversee all aspects of Maxivive’s projects, from conceptualisation to the finest details of garment production, as well as marketing, retail distribution and sales. Maxivive has been featured in global media outlets such as CNN, GQ, and BBC and was the subject of a 2021 HBO Original documentary entitled The Legend of the Underground. Aside from Maxivive, I have worked as a fashion editor for three different publications and I founded the Bó Young Creatives (Bóyc), an encyclopedia initiative that documents the work of young creatives in Nigeria. I am currently the artistic projects coordinator for the Amsterdam-based artist collective DARKMATTER.

Your work employs many intricate and stunning design techniques taken from artisanal
methods from Africa, amplifying textures and silhouettes. Why is this aspect of design important to your identity?
For us, experimenting with ideas, materials and methods that illustrate the power of aesthetics to disrupt norms and upend conventions is our ultimate priority and design language.

The Dry/Wet ‘23 collection will be coming to the Glamcult Store! What can people expect to
To see Maxivive’s radical design that imagines progressive, inclusive and democratic futures for all of humanity.

What is one thing you are currently manifesting?
Innermost serenity.