The African diaspora is a thriving hub for beauty, innovation and boundless creativity. Because of this, the Brooklyn Museum wants to bring even more visibility through its series, Africa Fashion, an introspective exhibition currently running through October 22, 2023. Included in this display is the first international satellite from Alára, a Lagos, Nigeria, concept store owned by Reni Folawiyo.

The retail space will feature more than 100 brands from the Mother Continent, New York and other U.S.-based designers identifying within the African diaspora. Folawiyo shared insight with EBONY on this one-of-a-kind partnership and what folks can expect to see during the concept store's tenure at the Brooklyn Museum.

EBONY: What inspired the initial creation of Alára?

Reni Folawiyo: Production from Africa and craftsmanship from the continent have long been overlooked or misunderstood. Alára was founded as a spotlight for the incredible work being produced here. It was initially created to embrace, support and promote a luxury market in Africa; to show and celebrate the extraordinary creative production of fashion, accessories, art and design happening across the continent. The brand showcases high design from Africa alongside standard-bearers of luxury from the West like Commes des Garçons and Louboutin. It's a clear demonstration that Africa not only deserves a seat at the table—but Africa deserves its own table. 

In a previous interview, you mentioned that “Alára was created to be a window to the world, an authentic curation of contemporary Africa.” In what ways has Alára become a medium to uplift the continent of Africa through global impact?

Alára is the embodiment of a side of Africa that many people across the West never see.  The Africa I live, work and travel in is dynamic, cosmopolitan and multi-faceted. Many of my favorite pieces of wardrobe, the best meals I've eaten and the most beautiful artworks I've seen were all made and designed on the Mother continent. However, when I’m traveling in the West, it is clear that most people understand Africa through a very reductive, backward lens, and that misconception has long-ranging impacts.  Alára is a vehicle to show and promote a different side that will allow us to thrive on the world stage.

How important is Alára’s inclusion in the Brooklyn Museum to you? What can people expect to see through this artistic collaboration?

For the past few years, we’ve been planning to bring the brand to the wider world, and activate with a global audience. Alára truly is a lens into contemporary Africa, and there has been an increasing desire and sense of obligation to bring this experience to the forefront. The Brooklyn Museum provided a terrific opportunity for this first partnership because of the breadth and depth of its engagement with culture. Alára is much more than a concept store for fashion— it is an incubator for talent; a destination for celebration of art, design, and creativity, and a convener for cultural movers and shakers.  

What will we see at Brooklyn Museum?

At the Museum, we are bringing that essence to Brooklyn. It's a taste of the experience we offer in Lagos, designed not only to inspire in the immediate but to build a curiosity that will keep visitors coming back for new drops and African fashion trends of the future.

Below, take a peek at Alára's collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum, opening on June 23, 2023.