Fashion Interviews Lifestyle

Yemzi: British-Nigerian fashion for active dreamers

Elizabeth-Yemi Akingbade designs sustainable street-luxe bohemian fashion inspired by West Africa and the diaspora.


Her work is consciously influenced by her English upbringing in the seaside town of Bournemouth with her Caucasian foster family, hybridised with her Nigerian roots and culture. Yemzi has shown in several European cities and has been worn by internationally recognised musicians and influencers.

We interviewed her to talk creative expression and style advice.

Tell us a bit about Yemzi?

Yemzi is my nickname, which comes from my Nigerian name Yemi. I’m a 20-something print and fashion designer, born of Yoruba parents, raised by an English family in Dorset, South West England.

Whereabouts are you based?

Yemzi HQ is in Dalston, East London. I’m currently living south of the river.

When did you launch?

I registered Yemzi in 2013, on graduation from The University of The Arts London, LCC. My first ready-to-wear collection dropped in 2015 with ‘Straight Out Of The City Via The Homeland’ (SS16).

What motivates you to do what you do?

I’m living my true authentic self, doing what I love everyday, which gives me life. My work is an expression of my experiences and I learn more about who I am through this creative and challenging journey.

What are the inspirations behind Yemzi?

West African and European art, culture and creativity. 

How would you describe your brand style in one sentence?

Street-luv bohemian nomad.

What’s your all time favourite item from Yemzi?

To be honest I don’t have one, but I love that the Silk Unisex Sport-Trim Jumper is adored by both sexes. I plan to release a unisex collection in 2018.

How did you get into designing clothes?

As a little girl I loved to draw, in particular people and what they or I imagined them to wear. So at age 14 I went to Saturday Fashion school to explore this further. Prior to this I gained a lot of confidence because my peers would look to see what trainers I bought for P.E (I was the first person with Nike TN’s in my school – thanks eBay) or even where I bought my fitted white school shirt from. Mufti-day, where you can wear your own clothes to school, was a fashion show.

What’s your advice for anyone who wants to create their own brand?

Create a brand that is authentic to who you are, be persistent and don’t expect it to be easy.

Why do you think video is important for selling?

My silks flow, customers can see that in video whereas images are static.

What are your top three style tips?

  1. Wear it with confidence
  2. Prints and colour add flavour to life
  3. Quality costs, make investments in long-term pieces and limit the amount of money you spend on trend pieces

What’s on your Spotify playlist right now?

I’m all about Soundcloud but at the office we have a Spotify account with SZA on repeat for months.

Get Yemzi’s street-luv bohemian style. Download YEAY in the iTunes Store or on Google Play today.

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