#ManCrushMonday: Nigerian designer Mai Atafo

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Designer Mai Atafo, is one of the most recognized and sought after designers on the continent. Mai Atafo launched MAI (Mai Atafo Inspired) in 2007. Mai Atafo’s line specializes in suits for men and glamorous red carpet dresses, and In July 2011 Mai Atafo launched “Weddings By MAI”, thereby adding gorgeous wedding dresses to his brand to cater for all clothing needs for weddings.

Mai Atafo, with his clothing line, has developed a reputation for gorgeous and perfectly fitting dresses that translate into the sophisticated and elegant look every bride desires and not to forget his well tailored bespoke suits.

He is a fashion artist (MAI), fashion editor, stylist, entertainment consultant and compere. His sense of fashion, styling and lifestyle are the inspiration and artistic expression of Mai Atafo Inspired for the young Nigerian designer with a natural flair and passion for everything fashion and life. Though he continues to strive as a fashion designer, he still consults as a marketing specialist, he develops concept, coordinates and produces events and TV shows.

mai 1

Mai Atafo was born in Ile-Ife, Osun State. Though an indigene of Edo State, he spent most of his childhood in Benin City, Lagos and London. He holds a 2nd Class Upper degree in Agricultural Economics and Extension from Edo State University, Ekpoma, and then obtained a Post graduate degree in Information Technology, from City University London, England. Before Mai Atafo ventured into the world of fashion, he lived life as a full blown marketer in the corporate world. After almost 7 years in the United Kingdom he returned to Nigeria to a job in British American Tobacco before moving to Guinness Nigeria Plc in 2007. In 2010, almost 4 years later, he took a career break from his role as Senior Brand Manager Guinness to become a full time Fashion Designer.


Between 2007 and 2010 Mai Atafo established and ran his clothing line Mai Atafo Inspired (MAI) which he ran as he worked in a full time job. With designs that are versatile, timeless, notably classicist, but notwithstanding contemporary, clean-cut and urban, it didn’t take long for Mai Atafo to become a recognized name in the fashion world.

His first major debut was clothing the likes of Omowunmi Akinnifesi (MBGN 2005), Pasuma Wonder and Wale Rubber in the Maiden Edition of the TV Dance reality show “Celebrity Takes Two”. He has since been involved in the second season of “Celebrity Takes Two” clothing Stella Damasus and Yemi Blaq as well as other major TV shows and events like The Future Awards, Hip Hop World Awards, Soundcity Music Video Awards clothing high profile clients such as, Raz Adoti, Ashionye and Kemi Adetiba.


A model wears his designs during Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2013


A model wearing his signature tailored suit


Mai Atafo’s iconic statement loafer

Celebrities who have been spotted in MAI designs on the red carpet or for photo-shoots include actors Dakore Egbuson, Stephanie Okereke, Stella Damascus, Mercy Johnson, Gbenro Ajibade, Ramsey Nouah, Ex-Beauty Queens Omowunmi Akinnifesi, Munachi Abii, and Adaeze Igwe, Musicians include Banky W, D’Banj, 2face, M.I., Bez, Waje, and Omawumi and other important clients such as JJ Okocha, Uti Nwachukwu, Ebuka and many more.

However, despite the endless list of his celebrity clientele, the brand MAI is described by Mai Atafo as focusing on delivering the highest level of service to all his customers regardless of their status. MAI’s aesthetic is instantly recognizable in his clothing as his notable Piece-de-resistance remains his crested blazers creating a fashion staple amongst the power dressers.

The 2011 official launch of “Weddings By MAI” created a wedding line brand that caters to every clothing element of a wedding from the bridal gown, bridesmaids dress, little brides dresses, groom and grooms men’s suit, waistcoat and cravat.


Mai Atafo

Mai Atafo’s success has been recognized with a number of awards including: two awards from City People Fashion and Style as Hottest New Designer Male (2009) and Special Recognition (2010); Mode Men Magazine Fashion Designer of The Year (2010) Best Dressed Men (2010) (2011); FAB Magazine Fashion Brand of The Year (2010); The Redefinition Covenant University contribution to fashion (2010) Allure Most Stylish Man of the Year (2011); This Style Best Dresses Men (2011) and more.

On a personal note, Mai Atafo loves Music, Salsa Dancing, Spoken Words, Poetry and Manchester United!

Stalk his designs and him on Instagram here.

Source: Ono Bello



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