NKILI – ‘Seeing beautiful things’

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A good shirt can be dressed up or down, look powerfully smart or look so deliciously understated and cool that it oozes more than just a little bit of sex appeal. That’s right, Mabel just said sex appeal. Feisty.

I first came across the fabulous Tolani and her equally fabulous shirts in Eighty Six – the spectacular boutique on Dumbarton Road in Glasgow’s west end which stocks the work of young Scotland-based designers with extraordinary talent. I had been sitting out the back, chewing the fat with splendid shoe designer Emily Lamb, when in walked Tolani, a creative force to be reckoned with, with a bag full of silk shirts so jaw-droppingly lust worthy most ladies would go crazy to get their mitts on one. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to snap one up.

Tolani is the wonderful woman behind the brand Nkili, which means ‘Seeing beautiful things’ in Igbo. And beautiful is her work indeed. Crafted in Scotland using luxurious silks, the shirts feature truly original designs and gorgeous touches – a cashmere collar here, a hand-painted motif there – making Nkili a little label definitely worth planting firmly on the radar.

How she came to be making pretty shirts in Scotland is a story in itself. She first came up here to God’s country to study Architecture at University in Dundee, compelled by her love for design. During her time there, after joining the Entrepreneurial Society, she combined her love for design, fashion and business to create NKILI in 2011. Since then, she has achieved support and awards from the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust and Cultural Enterprise Scotland. Impressive stuff.

When asked further about the Nkili concept, Tolani told, “I wanted to start a silk shirt-making brand because for me the shirt was the most important garment in the wardrobe. Through NKILI I wanted to expand the notion of what a shirt is meant to be.” And she certainly does, breaking boundaries all over the place, a Nkili shirt is oh, so much more than just a shirt. Her current collection (SS13) is inspired by the work of deconstructivist Architect Zaha Hadid and features her beautiful original prints, statement collars, amazing capes, pretty pastel shades and bold brights. A shirt for any occasion. A shirt you would find an occasion for.

Tolani’s personal favourite? The shirt capes which come in 4 different colours because they can become absolutely anything (coat, shirt, dress, and cape) and worn in several ways. Just like most of the pieces in the collections, the shirt capes are suitable to all body types and age brackets.

My favourite? This pretty pink number with a cashmere peter-pan collar. Perfect in practically every way.

So where can I get my hands on one, I hear you cry?  Well you can snap one up in Glasgow at EIGHTY SIX, 86 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow or if you’re venturing further afield, they are soon to be found in GAMINE, 439 Metropolitan Avenue, New York, USA, 11211. Shirts range from £80 – £180 and will soon be available on the online store www.nkili.com. For any updates and to check out the full collection, view www.nkili.com.

Well, there’s another to put on the wish list. I really am going to have to be exceptionally good for the rest of the year if Father Christmas is going to pull all this out of the bag.