I met Designer I. B. Bayo (pronounced Bio) last September, and was immediately enthralled with his bold designs and use of color. When we talked his warm personality and brilliant smile enveloped the room.
Bayo designs clothes that are Dramatic, with bold shapes, patterns, and colors, intricately sewn and stitched together at his shop in Santa Cruz, California, where he has been based for the last 25 years. IB Bayo is an artist in very since of the word, and his works emulate the soul and character of the man. As a former musician, drummer, and vocalist, his passion for life is expressed vividly and spiritually in every piece that he makes.
Every piece is handmade and Bayo likes to create for the diversity of his customers, including size, ethnicity, and gender. Naturally Runway pieces are made in sizes from 0 – 4. He will on occasion do custom bespoke pieces if a customer has an idea that inspires him.
From Nigeria, Bayo is a ninth generation weaver. He learned to sew sitting in the lap of his father before his legs could even reach the pedals of the sewing machine. Bayo designs and manufactures men’s and women’s fashion including coats, jackets, vests, dresses, pants, and skirts with prices ranging from fifty dollars to ten-thousand dollars.
Select pieces from IB Bayo are now sold at Penelope Boutique and Eli Thomas, in San Jose’s exclusive Santana Row, and will be coming to more exclusive high end retail outlets in Southern California and Palm Springs sometime next year. Bayo’s main showroom, studio, and shop, remain in Santa Cruz.
Bayo’s family is in Oshogbo, in the Osun State of Nigeria. They send him much of the hand woven and hand dyed fabric used in his garments. Bayo does all of the design and tailoring in his Santa Cruz studio. As a child Bayo learned to plant and grow the seeds, how to make natural dyes, and dye the yarn, and how to thread, spin, and weave. He hand dyed his own fabrics at an early age and made them into the textiles which have become his unique fashion pieces.
Growing up Bayo sold Cotton, learned to iron and fold the garments properly. He learned to hand bead and embroider when he was a little older. Bayo has adopted such early learned techniques of quilting and doing reverse appliqué to create a Signature line of clothing for the American Market. Indeed, the boldness of the design and the quality of structure and construction are now propelling this multi-talented designer to International levels.
Bayo enjoys giving to his community and is openly thankful for the opportunities that have been afforded him. He is highly sought after for his workshops on Reverse Appliqué as well as in Nigerian Batik methods. His presentations about his family history showcase elements from past to the present, and are always sold out.
To highlight some of the pieces; the Ladybug Coat was inspired by a book with beautiful elegant photos of Ladybugs, which Bayo’s son, Yemi, brought home one day. Bayo was inspired to create reverse appliqué ladybugs, which are hand embroidered and embellished with 2,000 ladybug beads.
Silk Princess (it’s the long, colorful yellow, black, red purple piecework coat with the big collar.) This coat is a contemporary Western adaptation of traditional Yoruba quilting techniques and colors. Silk Princess is made of Dupioni silk. Four different colors are cut into 1.5” strips, joined together, cut horizontally, and joined again, stair-stepping to create the colorful diamond design. These four colors represent harmony, balance and community and are reminiscent of traditional dresses that princesses wore for special ceremonies in Bayo’s native Nigeria. Hand embroidery embellishes the collar, cuffs, and sleeves.
The Feather Dress is made of real rooster feathers. Bayo’s inspiration for this piece comes from spiritual ceremonies of Yoruba culture that he grew up with in Nigeria where feathers are symbols of unity, freedom and peace. During the ceremony, the celebrated woman who is leading the spiritual offering dresses in feathers, either on part of her dress, or robe, and sometimes woven into her hair.
Feathers represent the connection between earth and sky with the power to carry messages all over the globe. During challenging times people reach out by releasing birds to carry messages to ancestors to seek guidance and forgiveness. Sometimes birds are released as part of a calling for rain. Bayo told me that feathers represent cycles of life, unity, and how we are all connected to each other and the universe.
Yellowtail (gold, green and blue long dress with train.) This fabric is hand-made cotton batik that Bayo’s sister, Adesola, designed and dyed in Nigeria. Gold represents wealth and green represents the earth. The chain-like pattern symbolizes our connection to nature and each other. The beaded trim on the collar is a contemporary adaptation of beads worn by African royalty.
When you have an opportunity to see and feel the pieces you are immersed in the art and spirit of the fashion. Every piece fits like a glove. Bayo learns from Nature, history and what he sees in society. The similarities of different cultures are a reminder to him of how we are all related to each other.
When he works on one project, it helps with the next.. If he gets stuck, he moves on to the next one, “I start working on another and it helps to give me a new idea about the one I left behind. I learn something from each stage of each project. And they give me energy to go back to finish – gives me something new, something exciting that I can do to finish another. I’m always curious how things are made. There’s collectiveness about it. It’s like a tree that has a big trunk with lots of branches that work together and inspire each other.” I. B. Bayo
Photographed at The Old Wrigley Building, in Santa Cruz, California, USA, @theoldwrigleybuilding. Designer I.B. Bayo, @ibbayo, Model Izabelly Santos, @_izasant, @lookmodelagency, Model Hannah Downing, @hannahdowning, @HMMModelAgency. Stylist Tina Brown, @pivot.artfashion. Hair and Makeup by Olivia Wetmore, @olipopgrl, Verenice Galindo, @beautyby_betsey, The Cosmo Factory, @thecosmofactory.
Old Wrigley Building – 2801 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, California, USA
*Photography by Greg Autry, IG @gregautry.cga , ©2018GregAutry ALL RIGHTS RESERVED