March 17, 2020
Those who wear these clothes stand out. On the campus of Jacobs University Bremen more and more students belong to this group. Their outfits are colorful, the patterns are inspired by traditional clothes from Nigeria, the cuts are comfortable. And the designer? He is one of them: David Lewis is not only founder of the fashion label "Lewini", but he is also a second-year student of "Global Economics and Management" at the English-speaking Jacobs University.
The 21-year-old owes his passion for fashion to his mother. "When I was a teenager, she used to take me to the markets in order to buy fabrics." He grew up in Lagos, the economic and financial center of Nigeria. Many Nigerians produce their own clothes. They buy fabrics at the markets and give them to tailors, who seam clothes for them for special occasions or for everyday use. "The different textiles, the patterns and colors fascinated me," says David. "I enjoyed spending time at the markets.", Popular on the campus of Jacobs University: Student Paulina Maria Pineda wears fashion of “Lewini”. (Source: David Lewis)
His first self-produced garments were pants. "As a teenager, I had very long legs. The pants from the shops were either too short or too long," he remembers with a smile. So, he decided to make his own pants. But he went further than that: he also started to create his own shorts and later overalls, still for private use. "The more I tried out, the more fun I had," says David. During a stay in the USA he realized that more could come of it. David attended a summer school at Yale University. Of course, he wore his self-designed pants – and others liked them, too. So, he founded "Lewini", his own fashion label.
"I mix tradition with modernity, and combine native African colors and patterns with everyday clothes," David describes his style. “As a designer, my choice of fabrics and patterns express my unique thoughts and my distinctive nature. Each intricate color, shape or pattern is a tool for me to use to design clothes that promote individuality and make me look different from everyone else”. Lewini pieces are comfortable and unique, handmade, and in organic quality. He also designs some of the fabrics himself.
David first went to school in Lagos and then, at the age of 16, changed to the "African Leadership Academy", a training center for future African leaders located in Johannesburg, South Africa. He came to Jacobs University because he was looking for a university that was diverse, internationally oriented and academically challenging. He had never been to Germany before. "I wanted to experience a new culture and a new language.", David Lewis
His German host family, who picked him up from the airport and whom he meets twice a month, helped him settle in. "They are great," he says. He also speaks a little German now. And of course, his fellow students, who come from more than 120 countries, are helpful. "I enjoy this diversity at Jacobs University. It teaches me a lot and inspires me."
David is rarely seen without his sketchbook on the university campus. He uses it to write down all of his first ideas. He then sends his designs as scans to tailors in Nigeria, who turn them into finished garments. In a final step, the clothes are sent by ship to Bremen. Currently, David is taking orders and inquiries on his Instagram channel. An online shop is in development and with the help of friends he recently produced a film in which he explains his fashion ideas.
In January, David was at the Berlin Fashion Week for the first time, where he met designers and watched shows. "I want to learn more about the fashion industry in Germany." Currently he is working on his summer collection, which is expected to be finished in May. What it will look like? For sure it will be colorful.
Lewini on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/madebylewini/?hl=de
Lewini on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYVkgaZsgNI
This text is part of the series "Faces of Jacobs", in which Jacobs University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff. Further episodes can be found at www.jacobs-university.de/faces.