From as far back as has been dated, African cultures, particularly Nigerian cultures, have been  promoting elegance and style with their attires and outfits. From the Yoruba culture of the  southwestern region to the Igbos of the southeast, showcasing beauty and fashion has been  preached and passed down from generation to generation. The average Yoruba woman back in  those days would own elegant pieces of clothing with multi patterns and motifs achieved through tie-dying known as "Adire" or by interwoven colors of materials known  as "ofi" or "aso-oke". These materials would then be sewn into the seemingly basic "iro" and  "buba", which are anything but basic. Witty seamstresses and tailors make them with utmost care  to reveal these motifs and patterns.

Elegance has long been embedded in African cultures, and new upcoming brands need to  preserve this heritage. However, there is a tendency for Afro-fusion and African-related fashion  brands to want to be "Westernized", which defies all the logic of what they should stand for. You  cannot claim to want to wholly or partly preserve African heritage and go ahead to westernize it. Àrà Ọ̀gá has stood and is standing for preserving this heritage. 

Many Nigerians migrate daily to countries far away from their place of birth or origin. The  probability that many of these migrated people will never return to the country, settle down in their new environment, get married and have kids there is very high. These kids would  eventually grow up in this new environment, mix with kids in it, get married, and have their kids  too, and the cycle keeps going. Slowly these children, except they are expressly and intentionally taught about the culture and heritage, will lose touch with them. They will never experience the  hustle and bustle of living in Lagos, and they'll never get to see how rough the famous yellow  "danfo" buses and their extreme conductors are. Yes, stories may be told by their parents who  have experienced such things, but history has taught us that along the line, stories get watered  down, and they lose their initial kick or savor. Stories told by the first generation to the second,  third, and fourth generations are different after the period and eventually will be kept from being  told.

Àrà Ọ̀gá seeks to preserve these stories and tales so that even generations unborn can access them  and feel included like they have firsthand experience. Uniting culture and preserving heritage  even far from home through clothing, fashion, and style is what Àrà Ọ̀gá stands for. We cannot, for any reason, allow our identities to get lost, no matter how far from home we might be at any  time. Keeping up with trends is truly important, but who said trends could not be kept up with  and still include cultures and identities of years past and woven through them? They are not  mutually exclusive.

Our identities are embedded in our values. What we stand for as a people and a culture is what  we are known as and identify with. One of these values is our dressing style in Africa. With  Nigeria in focus, it is very well known to promote comfortable and decent dressing that is yet fashionable and impressionable. Àrà Ọ̀gá was launched and founded to carry on this narrative. As a Nigerian-owned but American-based fashion brand, it might be impossible to revert fashion to  the typical "iro" and "buba", but it is not impossible to infuse these into the growing fashion  trends around.

Àrà Ọ̀gá creates patterns, motifs, graphics and pictures affiliated with our cultural background on  our merches, such as the yellow bus, a mostly humorous means of public transport in Lagos,  Nigeria. It is impossible or almost impossible to find someone or anyone who doesn't have a  funny tale to tell of their experiences riding in these buses. With wearing merches such as these,  we might not be home, but we feel closer to home; after all, home is what you make it to be. 

Àrà Ọ̀gá has an entire collection dedicated to Fela. Fela Anikulapo Kuti was a Nigerian singer  who, with his music, fought against government oppression, suppression and corruption. He  fought against and actively tackled military governments that worked against democracy and the  people's freedom. He was jailed so many times and hunted down by various military  governments. Yet, he stood for the truth and stood for the people. Imagine wearing the face of  such an icon! He is an icon. Wearing a merch with his image on it reminds you of home and the  battles and struggles that generation before you fought and won; it can also help you educate  other people in your local area who had no idea who he was. You could wear such a top or  hoodie on your campus or to work and spike interest in curious colleagues. A curious person,  naturally, would ask, and you would take the chance to tell the story of the inspiring man- Fela.  You might have just changed someone's perspective on Nigerian history (or even inspired them  to get one or two of the merch).

We should cherish our culture as Africans; no one can love our culture more than we do. Àrà Ọ̀gá is infiltrating the fashion space, preaching the gospel of the importance of keeping our culture  dear to our hearts through our appearance. So, wherever you are, near to home or far from home,  you stay in touch with your cultural heritage and values. We must always celebrate our identities  and diversity as a people as it helps us to create a sense of pride that cannot be disputed. It also  helps us connect to our past and helps us understand how rich our cultures are. Àrà Ọ̀gá aims to facilitate this connection. A famous Yoruba adage says, "Omo to ba so ile nu, o so apo iya ko", meaning anyone that loses connection with his ancestry and home will suffer for it. Our dressing, through trends, can still showcase our history and culture. Partner with Àrà Ọ̀gá on this incredible  journey!