Although mightily challenged by a pandemic and a general, dispiriting state of existential dread, New York Fashion Week is forging on virtually, refusing to give in to critics calling for its ultimate demise.
Here to restore hope for the future of American fashion and to make up for the lack of freewheeling commentary shared between editors crammed into elevators at Spring Studios with a new IMG-backed podcast are two smartly-dressed superheroes, who happen to share DNA: Harper’s Bazaar Digital Director Nikki Ogunnaike and Lola Ogunnaike, journalist and TV correspondent.
As a medium without visual biases, podcasts give listeners the intimate privilege of dropping into a room for someone else’s deep conversation. A good podcast will leave it at that, but a great one will make the listeners feel like they are a part of that conversation. “Well Suited,” launching on Feb. 18, hopes to accomplish the latter by bringing style setters who may not have been a part of these conversations in the past into the NYFW fold.
“Working with IMG, they sort of gave us carte blanche to book whoever we wanted to book for this podcast,” says Nikki over the phone (right after Lola played sibling publicist of the year by championing her as a great fashion democratizer). “And that was really just wonderful because it felt like we are all on the same page and ready to change and adapt the conversations that are happening in the fashion industry right now.”
The Ogunnaike sisters will take a deep dive inside the minds of tastemakers they’ve carefully assembled so as to focus on less obvious subjects. Guests include playwright Jeremy O’Harris, lawyer and author Meena Harris, painter Kehinde Wiley, comedian Elsa Majimbo and more.
“When you think of Kehinde Wiley, you immediately think of him because he’s a world renowned painter, but he’s also incredibly stylish, and style plays a significant role in his life,” says Lola. With Wiley, many of the questions will center around how he dresses for a momentous occasion — specifically what he would wear to unveil a statue in the middle of Times Square or what he wore while unveiling the national portrait of President Barack Obama.
“We’re especially interested in how fashion can tell a story and how people use it to tell a story about themselves,” explains Nikki. “And so when we were ideating around what this podcast could be, we came up with this idea where we would talk to really fashionable people, get inside their minds and really just have a fun conversation about their love of fashion in addition to their career and whatever else they want to talk about.”
Just from speaking with them for this story, it’s evident that the Ogunnaikes have the sort of silly sister banter that listeners will eat up. Laughter is a highly expected byproduct from each conversation — but Lola says that, at times, the structure for their discussion is a little more serious. Like, for example, with Harris: “Obviously the Vice President is her aunt, her mother’s a lawyer, her step-dad is a lawyer. She graduated from Harvard Law and had checked all the boxes on the success treadmill and then decided to chuck it all to start this fashion business. We want to talk to her about just leaping out on faith and how does one decide to veer off the beaten path, especially when it’s already working for you.”
Every person who comes on “Well Suited” will be asked one all-important question: Who’s the best dressed person in your life?
For the hosts, the answer is simple: each other. Well, actually Lola answered for Nikki, but one of Nikki’s runners-up is GQ‘s Mobolaji Dawodu. Other than Nikki, Lola cites her mother, Elizabeth, for laying her sartorial blueprint of wide-leg pants and statement scarves.
We may not be treated to the onslaught of well-dressed people on the streets this season, but “Well Suited” promises to introduce us to new style icons we can look up to.
“We may not necessarily be able to all be together as much as we can, due to coronavirus, but there’s something to be said for having that magic sort of come into you via audio and transporting you back to that time when we could be,” says Nikki.
Since a digital runway presentation admittedly lacks the pizzazz of an in-person spectacle, we’ll take any opportunity to be transported to a time when you could celebrate the shared experience of viewing a designer’s creative feat — something that was always special about NYFW.
“We want people to see the importance of fashion, the fun of fashion, the power of fashion,” Lola says in terms of what she hopes people will get out of the podcast. “And we want them to hear two sisters who are passionate about style, talk about the significance of fashion and the role that it plays in our lives and the role that it plays in the lives of some of the most important and celebrated people on the planet.”
The first episode of “Well Suited” drops Feb. 18 on Apple Podcasts. You can listen to it here.