SPOTLIGHT: Adesuwa Aighewi, the Nigerian-Chinese model breaking boundaries on the runway
But this opinionated and assertive Nigerian-Chinese fashion model is holding her own in an industry that has often set controversial standards on appearance and size.
The New York-based model was born in Minnesota, US, to a Nigerian father from Edo state and a Thai-born Chinese mother, both environmental scientists.
She started her modelling career at age 15, on the campus of the University of Maryland where she studied chemistry.
Possessing intense, striking facial features and a swoon-worthy figure, Adesuwa decided to ‘loc’ her hair ahead of spring/summer 2018 New York Fashion Week to the consternation of her agency.
Remarkably, she landed a coveted spot to open Coach’s 2018 Cruise show, also walking for the likes of Christian Dior, Gucci, and Chanel during one of the top five fashion weeks in the world.
Adesuwa has also worked for a slew of top designers including but not limited to Alexander Wang, Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, Kate Spade, Miu Miu, Bottega Veneta, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, Fendi, and Tommy Hilfiger.
She has featured in advertising campaigns for Gucci, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, and Vera Wang.
In an editorial for UK Guardian in 2017, Adesuwa said her dreadlocks are part of her self-expression which she is willing to maintain.
“When I got my hair dreadlocked ahead of New York fashion week, I had some pushback from people in the industry worried that I wouldn’t get jobs – the suggestion was that I might look “too black”. But I enjoy being different and standing out – so I decided to keep them and take my chances,” she had said.
“I suspect there are going to be more girls with dreads on the catwalk, with more of us saying: “I like my hair this way, I like my hair curly.” They’re still going to cast you. If a girl is dope, a girl is dope. If you stand by who you are, the world has to take notice.”
Featured in British Vogue as one the “breakout models” for London Fashion Week’s autumn/ winter 2018 season, Adesuwa said with regards to fashion, she always has her foot in her mouth is and is “terrible for not realising who people are”.
She admits that it is important to please oneself, adding that she is “unapologetic” about everything she does and fully stands by her choices and decisions.
The multi-talented model, via Instagram, recently announced a partnership with the ACLU Foundation, a legal and advocacy organisation and RE/DONE, a US clothing brand, to design a line of hooded sweatshirts to promote “freedom of speech and equality”.
According to her profile on Dazed Digital, a lifestyle and travel TV show are in the works for Adesuwa, in which she and three friends will embark on a cross-continent journey, offering up an “alternative point of view” of Africa.
In honour of her late brother, who died when he was a teenager, Adesuwa has also revealed plans to release a children’s book titled “Akugbe,” which tells the story of a young masquerader who gets lost during a parade in Nigeria and spends a year trying to find his way home.