As university students, we spend a lot of time faced with CVs and job applications. And that is what inspired the founder of Dutse to start her own collection of T-shirts. “Last year I was doing my placement,” she narrates, “and you know the whole application process; you are constantly sending your CV, trying to prove that you can do this and that, and you get asked in all these interviews: what can you do, what are your strengths and weaknesses and all that. So one day, I was with my friend and I was making her Jollof rice, which she absolutely loves, and she turned to me and said: “Oh my god, you should just put this in your CV, that you can cook Jollof rice! And it just stuck with me – that happened two years ago and, every time I think about it, it makes me laugh, because it’s such a good slogan. I can imagine putting that on a CV!”
And that is exactly what the T-shirts are here for: to make a statement. It’s a funny way to deal with all the pressure that surrounds the process of applying for a job and the need to have an impressive CV – in order to end up getting coffee and photocopying dossiers most of the time. But it is also a tongue-in-cheek way to showcase something that has as much cultural significance as Jollof rice, a traditional dish in Nigeria and other African countries. The founder and her friend and co-partner are both Nigerians and certainly know how important the dish is to their culture: “Not that many people know about it here, but Jollof rice always gets a conversation started. It’s something a lot of Nigerians can relate to; we can have arguments about Jollof rice indefinitely, especially between Ghanaians and Nigerians.” They are also adamant that cooking Jollof rice successfully should impress any employer. “If you know anything about Jollof rice, you know it’s not an easy thing; it’s a skill you should be proud of,” they insist jokingly.
So what makes Jollof rice so special? As the girls recount the ingredients, it becomes clear that its base is not the most complicated, but as the Jollof rice-enthusiasts behind the collection put it: “It’s a dish that different people can make differently, but, in the end, you know good Jollof rice when you taste it.” But why make it into a T-shirt? “It wasn’t until I came to UK that I realized how much I love Nigeria and Nigerian food – to me it was a way to draw attention to Nigerian culture,” the founder confesses. Her partner adds: “Since we are Nigerians, we had to start with something that felt personal, something from home.”
So whether you are a proud Nigerian or someone who just loves Jollof rice so much that you want to put it on your CV, these T-shirts are for you! But also if you have a good sense of humour, this collection is definitely for you; it’s a great way to play around with the statement-tee trend that dominates the spring/summer 2017 collections and make a cultural joke at the same time.
Shop the collection here: http://www.dutseclothing.com
Text by Alice Vily
Photograhers: Ira Igoshina and Setareh Sanjarani
Models: Jasleen Dhindsa, Sophie Bradbury, Lyndon Odia and Vasco Victor.