Youthful Albany fashion designer savors success

Meet Taofeek Abijako, designer in motion.

He has his own fashion line, Head of State, featuring vibrantly colored men's street wear with a global mindset. His clothes are on sale at stores in the United States, Canada and Japan.

His spring 2018 collection wowed the sartorially savvy at New York's Fashion Week this past July, described by The New York Times as "a startlingly sophisticated show of street wear inspired by post-colonial African clothing, the kind that might have been worn by the fashion-conscious young Malians featured in the classic studio portraits shot by Malike Sidibe or Seydou Keita in the 1960s."

He's driven. Visionary. Innovative. Ambitious. Successful.

No, that's not a typo. Yes, it means he started creating his clothes — his whole aesthetic, really — while a student at Albany High School, where he graduated just last year. And yes, he realizes how unlikely this all is, how swift and surreal. To use his word of choice: "Insane."

How did it happen? How did he get from there to here? That question prompted a long and lively response on Saturday afternoon, when Abijako, who lives in New York City, hit "pause" on his whirlwind life for an interview at the Tierra Farm Store in Albany's Pine Hills.

He was home for the weekend, staying at his old bedroom in his parents' house, and in the mood to chat. He had just scored a deal with retailers in the United States and Canada — scant months after snaring a similar deal with outlets in Japan (see box for retailers). "Every two months, something happens," he said, shaking his head with amazement.

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