Idris Balogun is a Nigerian fashion designer raised in London. His menswear collection, Winnie New York, is on the rise.
Balogun, the winner of this year’s coveted Karl Lagerfeld Prize, is defying the odds with his New York and London-inspired clothing line, Robb Report reported. His clothes have been described as modern yet comfortable and perfect in the age of remote working.
Getting His Start
Balogun first got his start in the fashion business working as an apprentice at Hardy Amies, a men’s luxury clothing store in London, England, which has since closed. He landed the apprenticeship at the age of 14 after lying about his age. He worked as a suit maker, perfecting the skills of making trousers and jackets.
It was there he learned foundational lessons like understanding what makes materials fine or coarse and how to handle grades of wool.
“Being a teen on Savile Row and getting to handle alpaca, learn the difference between higher and lower percentages of mohair, the difference between 15 microns and 70 microns— it really informed my palate,” Balogun tells Robb Report.
After three years at Amies, from 2007 to 2010, Balogun moved to New York and took on several fashion-related roles, including accepting a senior menswear director position at Burberry in 2013 and a similar job at Tom Ford in 2016.
Ironically, the young European-African is technically a New Yorker, having been born in Brooklyn while his London-based parents were on vacation.
“I was actually born in Brooklyn by mistake. My parents originally lived in London, but my mom was here on a vacation — I was born early,” explains Balogun, who also attended The Fashion Institute of Technology.
Quitting his job at near the end of 2018, Balogun launched Winnie, a name in dedication to his grandmother, Princess Winifred Dademu, who passed away before seeing his collection.
“When my grandmother passed, it was my first time being away from the fashion world for an extended period and I thought about what I wanted from my life and my career,” he told Highsnobiety. “My grandmother was my cheerleader and biggest supporter. She believed I could do anything I put my mind to. I really wanted to do something as an ode to her, so I started the brand.”
The best description of Winnie menswear is fashion-forward, Italian-tailored. His designs also use repurposed materials.
“This season and the last, we actually grew our first flax fibers,” Balogun said, with flax being the plant-based material that is used to create linen.
According to the designer, his world travels and various jobs have influenced his designs.
“One thing that really helped me was the fact that my actual foundation is from a completely different world. I had already formulated my own tastes before I started working with these houses because of my upbringing being so strong in terms of influence,” he told Hype Beast. “I think me being from all over the place, being born in America to Nigerian immigrants, being raised in London, basically having this mix of cultures, I love it because it gives me a much larger dictionary to pull from.”
Prices for shirts, upcycled jackets, cargo pants, and luxe basics range from $285 to $1,800
Buzz about Collection
His Spring/Summer 2022 collection has the fashion world buzzing. He was inspired by the pilgrimage of Black artists to Africa, artists like singer Nina Simone and writer James Baldwin. The line included European and African style notes, such as tailored jackets and cashmere blended bamboo knits done up in tones of red clay, carnation pink, French violet and more.
His brand is becoming the darling of the fashion industry. Highsnobiety declared people will be “wearing Winnie’s New York’s luxury wares for the next 20 years.”