Another Nigerian has succeeded in the international creative industry. Taoheed Bayo, an undergraduate of the University of Minnesota, won a Nike design challenge and now designs for the company. Sahan Journal reports that Bayo was trying to do his school assignments when a roommate told him about the challenge and it immediately caught his interest.
Weeks after, he made a design that competed with several others in the Nike By You X Cultivator contest. For the competition, the contestants were given weeks to come up with a unique design and then create a backstory that would appeal to consumers.
Bayo was able to employ the peculiarities in his Yoruba culture to create the Afro-Yute Air Max 1, which did not only sell well, but teaches.
— Taoheed Bayo (@Tbuzzofficiale) November 1, 2019
“The most integral part I think was having a story that resonates with a lot of people and making sure that it’s authentic as possible. But, you’re also trying to design a shoe that you want everybody to buy, not just something you like,” he said.
On designing the sneakers, he employed green for its base, which represents a part of Nigeria’s flag and earth. He touched up the colour with white. He said he chose suede leather because he found it a perfect marker of the resilience of Africans.
“Leather lasts longer, and it’s metaphorical in the fact that we Africans can endure. We last long. It’s almost like we can withstand time. We can adapt and endure multiple and numerous situations,” he said.
Winning the contest was not all about great designing but a brilliant story that goes with it, so he weaved in how colonialism and slavery have affected Africa. “Africa is the centre of the world, we are no third world. The yute are now equipped to fight the alien system that plagued our ancestors,” he wrote. In coming up with the design, Bayo had to work with different creatives like photographers, videographers and poets.