Daniel Ukiri is the artist/designer behind Dukiri Apparel. Originally from Nigeria, he studied Environmental Design at the University of Buffalo between 2018 to 2022. While there, he developed an interest in streetwear since he had always enjoyed fashion and design. He noticed his drawing style worked well with streetwear, so his first idea was to design a t-shirt and hoodie. Seeing this drawing as a visual illusion, he titled it abstract shapes and robot arms.


In Daniel's opinion, "art is addictive, it is dynamic, and forever changing". It is important to him to explore art in fashion and expand his understanding of it. Whether it is nature, dreams, or cartoons, his work is inspired by his experiences and surroundings. It is Daniel's preference to start by hand, He sees himself as an artist first, and his style is more mixed media. He draws by hand, then takes it to the digital space where he colors the designs. Occasionally, he combines live photos with his drawings to create something entirely new.

Daniel has run the brand for over 2 years and has had the opportunity to display his collection at Fashion Art Toronto in 2022. As part of the Motif One collection, he merged several of his collections over the years. The goal was to capture the essence of most of the seasons, from the brighter summer feel to the more neutral autumnal look. As well as visualizing people feeling comfortable in the brand, he also imagined people enjoying color in varying amounts. For this reason, the patterns of the collection are mostly playful.

In 2023, he also showcased The Journey Collection with Breakfree NYFW and Fashion Art Toronto. This collection tries to tell the story of the brand through 4 images and an illustration. Originally, it referred to the idea of movement, but its meaning shifted over time. It reminds them that their story continues. “I hope that the collection will help tell the story of my brand. There have been many ups and downs, but that's what makes it worthwhile. I picked four photos that I took and edited in 2019-2020. At the time, I had some constraints for these images: I could only take pictures inside a bus or car and only take landscape pictures that interested me. It felt instinctual.

I found that these photos were very expressive and represented what I was thinking. In addition, I completed one of my illustrations for the sole purpose of using it in this collection. It is called Dream Block and essentially shows someone stretching out their hand towards a rose in the sky but it feels impossible to reach. There are barricades blocking the path and crushed up bill boards, broken dustbins with cracks on the road. Those represent challenges that we face. However, there is also a reminder on a sign board to always be happy--and that's how I try to live life: with a positive outlook.”

His next collection in 2023 was Growth and Rebirth which he intends to continue in 2024. The idea of "Growth & Rebirth" came to me after completing my previous collection, "Journey." It's all about transformation and creating something new. For this collection, I decided to focus on symbolism, and I thought the best way to convey it was through a series of illustrations, each representing a transformation. One of my favorite illustrations in this collection shows the life cycle of a butterfly, from a caterpillar to a cocoon, and then into a beautiful butterfly. It's a powerful symbol of transformation, and you can find similar transformations in our own lives if you look closely. As I explored other ways to represent my ideas, I came across some interesting depictions of the symbolism of koi fish. In Japanese culture, they often represent qualities like perseverance, transformation, and good fortune. I was particularly inspired by a Chinese-style drawing of koi fish. To complement these drawings, I chose the lotus and lilies, as they also represent transformation in different cultures.