Dumebi Iyamah
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Profiles - August 18, 2022

Dumebi Iyamah: The Nigerian-Canadian Designer Infusing Cultural Ethics Into Her Designs

Obsessed with colours and ethnic cultures, Nigerian fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah created a clothing line, Andrea Iyamah.

She developed her tailoring abilities and educated herself about design because she had a passion for the arts and fashion. This sparked the creation of her brand at the young age of 17.

Although Andrea Iyamah is well known for its unconventional and distinctive approach to swimwear, employing vivid colours and cuts influenced by a variety of African cultures, the company also specialises in ready-to-wear and specially produced gowns for special occasions.

The colours and concepts of the brand’s first official swimwear collection, which debuted in 2013, were heavily influenced by the African background of the company and a fusion of retro and other cultures.

The brand, which is based in Ontario, Canada, caters to females globally who want to attend an event in style or go on a sizzling vacation wearing an edgy bathing suit.

Dumebi Iyamah has been offering ethnic wear with a contemporary twist since 2011 while still paying close attention to the cuts and details. The Andrea Iyamah team collaborates to make sure that each piece they produce tells a story.

The company aspires to contribute to vacation memories through its designs and to provide its customers with the chance to participate in a cultural narrative through their clothing. 

Dumebi Iyamah has launched a store in Lagos, Nigeria in an effort to return to her roots and better serve her local clientele.

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Early life

Iyamah, the fourth of four children born to Andrew and Onyi Iyamah, both of Ika in Agbor descent, was born in Lagos. She was a student at Lagos Grange School.

She graduated from McMaster University with a bachelor’s degree in communication and multimedia.

Iyamah started her clothing brand in Ontario, Canada. With the assistance of her family and close friends, she established the fashion label while a 17-year-old student at McMaster University.

The fourth child to be born to Andrew and Onyi Iyamah is Iyamah. Her mother was a beautician who had a clothing boutique and a hair salon, while her father was an engineer by profession.

When she was born, both of her parents were self-employed business owners. She lost her father when she was just 7 years old, and her mother further fended for her. The director of the Andrea Iyamah fashion line is her sister, the actress Somkele Iyamah.

The start of the Andrea Iyamah fashion brand

At the age of 17, Dumebi Iyamah began creating her clothing line, Andrea Iyamah. “Andrea Iyamah” has its corporate office in Toronto and a flagship store in Lagos that opened its doors in 2017. In an interview with The Folklore Group, Dumebi Iyamah said, 

“I initially started with a simple blog to share my sketches and artwork, but that quickly changed into a full-fledged business when I hand sewed my first few sketches and readers actually wanted to purchase them. That’s really how it all started.”

Source: Fashionandco

In 2011, one of her designs was highlighted in a well-read blog article, which served as the impetus for “Andrea Iyamah.” While pursuing her college education, she focused on her business, beginning by creating clients’ personalised clothing.

She infuses her Nigerian roots into most of her designs, in the interview she states

“My Nigerian roots are quite a part and parcel of me that it comes quite natural to include some elements that portray the culture. 

Nigerians are energetic, vibrant and confident which are elements that are evident in A.I. designs. Also having our flagship A.I. studio, and operating out of there, keeps the inspiration fresh and relevant.” 

Andrea Iyamah accolades

Custom bridal, ready-to-wear, and swim and resort wear were the three main product lines she perfected for the brand. Her work has received notice from the press, including Vogue, Elle, Essence, Refinery29, HuffPost, Cosmopolitan, and many more. She formally launched a full swim collection in 2013.

Source: Accelerate TV

Her designs have been worn by prominent celebrities, including Michelle Obama, Kate Hudson, Ciara, Gabrielle Union, and Genevieve Nnaji at fashion events she has produced in Africa, Europe, France, and the United States. At Lagos Fashion Week 2019, she debuted her Spring/Summer 2020 collection.

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