Still riding the wave of collaborating with American celebrity stylist, Bryon Javar in a movement that promotes the visibility of black designers for the 2020 Essence Festival of Culture, Cape Town fashion brand Panaga is definitely one to know and watch.
Stylishly rocking Panaga on Instagram are models Adeola Ariyo (@adiolaariyo) to 77.thx (@77.thx) teasing a forthcoming transcontinental campaign in the works. Panaga is proudly home-grown but with a solid global footing.
Idehen has a decade of experience in the fashion industry with qualifications in accounting; business and film production, and has done human rights work for the United Nations (UN). He’s styled popular African designers from the likes of Abrantie The Gentleman (@abrantiethegentleman) to Tokyo James (@tokyojamess) for local and international fashion weeks; worked with icons like Julien Mcdonald (@Julien Mcdonald) and fashion innovators like Ib Kamara and contributed to the hallowed fashion pages of Dazed; ID Magazine and Vogue.
He calls McDonald a friend as well as like family and finds motivation and inspiration from peers like Kamara, as well as late pioneers like John Galliano, Isabella Blow and Alexandra McQueen.
Panaga style is understated cool, refined elegance- but with functionality at its core. This essence is captured by funky street or everyday wear, a black-tie dress code and the avant-garde. The brand stands out for its expertly tailored designs that are made with luxurious fabrics and neutral colours.
Graceful and earthy design
Panaga was founded in 2014, but officially launched in 2019. Founder, Clinton Osasenga Idehen, when speaking about his identity, considers himself to be, “a wild bird with a good silhouette.” This conjures up images of flight – soaring with grace – and somehow reflects Panaga’s steady and ingenious moves coupled with its sprouting achievements. The label recently did a campaign for United Airline jets in Cape Town and is stealthily rising in the ranks.
The description also extends itself into metaphors of freedom and grounded-ness which can be spotted in Idehen’s creations – the loose-fitting and minimalist approach merged with earthy tones and informed textile design choices.
Being grounded also means being mindful. And conscious fashions stay relevant. With climate change still an ongoing political issue and environmental activism its response, fashion has an important role to play in that conversation. Panaga’s most recent 2021 collection, Earthly People II is built around responsible fabric choices that work with and for nature.
The fashion brand’s other political statement is its ground-breaking unisex profile. It’s another symbol of freedom. The freedom to be. The freedom to play while including those who are gender non-binary.
“Fashion is a reflection of the time. It’s the direct and uncensored reflection of our society. Today’s interest in gender-neutral clothes is a way to be part of a society with equal rights and opportunities for both sexes” Idehen explains.
His Nigerian roots substantiate and propel the trajectory of his designs. Idehen comes from a political and Christian home in Edo State, Nigeria. The name, Panaga is a wordplay on his native name ‘Naga‘, which means God and his childhood name for his late father, ‘Pa’ which means dad.
“My late Pa was very supportive of my love in art and fashion, always letting me know that God in all of us, and that we have the ability to do all the things we put our mind and consistent focus into. I believe fashion is a reflection of one’s true identity,” he says. Panaga’s pioneering African narrative is one that includes equal rights for all, conscious fashion, refined craftsmanship, minimalism and understated style—a sure-fire recipe for success and global domination.
Check them out on IG @_panaga
Photographer | Migal Van As
Models | Kinsey Golden @kinseygolden, Amber Landers @amber_landers, Clinton Idehen @iampanaga, The’ Kyu @ifyoulieyoulose, Kendi Kimathi @kendi_k_official
Stylist | HOD Lyal Seba @lyalseba | Assistant Ryan Hing @ryanhing011
Hair & Makeup | HOD The Makeup Touch @makeuptouch.sa | Assistant Margarita Reddy
Photographic Assistant | Wilke Hamman @wmcreated
Assistant | Hein Badenhorst @badenhorsthein