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Group 1: Brian Friedman & Yanis Marshall
Group 2: Mishay Petronelli, Zack Venegas, Judson Emery, Marie Ninja, Abby Lett, Robert Green & Kevin Vives
Group 3: Brian Friedman, Yanis Marshall, Zack Venegas, Judson Emery, Zack Reece, Kevin Vives, Robert Green & Jawi Buan
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so you see, I love you so much
That I don’t wanna watch you leave me, baby
Most of all, I just don’t, I just don’t wanna be free, no
Profile: Wale Oyejide
We had the opportunity to speak with Wale Oyejide, the designer behind Ikiré Jones, the Menswear company that marries African aesthetics with Neapolitan tailoring.
During our brief interview, we asked him a bunch of questions about his entry into the fashion world, his influences, and what he hopes to accomplish.
Check out our interview.
Wale, what got you started in the fashion?
In 2010, I was actually picked by Esquire (magazine) as one of the five best-dressed men in the nation. I was practicing law at the time, and that selection drew me more closely into doing design work. I used to be an indie musician, and doing design was a return to my more artistic roots.
What inspires your design aesthetic?
My aesthetic celebrates African culture. My whole ethos is to be a cultural ambassador to try to tell stories and present different points of view of African culture. I want to challenge the negative views of Africa. Rarely do you see positive stories about the continent. My goal is to paint positive stories about the nature of Africa, that are authentic.
Who do you consider your biggest artistic influence? Why?
Because I have no traditional design background, I don’t really look to other designers. I would say that I’m most influenced by jazz and Hip Hop. I would say that I’m influenced by anything from the Golden Era: Illmatic, Yeezus. Even though it’s a different palate (design and music) they are both capable of eliciting the same emotions.
What impact do you want your work to have on West Africans? Other designers? The public at large?
I want my impact to be the same as anyone who does any kind of work. I want to be able to tell my story so that no one else tells it for me. I want to illustrate the way I see things so that there is a more positive portrayal of what is coming out of Africa. I want my story, my telling of my story to be out in the ether.
What advice would you give to young designers looking to break into the fashion industry?
Again, I would tell young people the same thing they would hear from anybody doing anything: tell your story and be as honest as you can. People who resonate with my story can tell it’s authentic and real. Rather than emulate someone else, be yourself. Be true to yourself.
Let me just say, I love your pieces. The fact that you’ve made bespoke pieces out of essentially wax prints, is ingenious.
I can tell that you appreciate what I’m doing. If you look at my pieces, you can say that they’re either high class or low class. Sure, wax cloth is very common, but if you look at the tailoring, the detail and the work that goes into it, you’ll appreciate the bespoke nature of them, and know that these are not common pieces.
So what’s next?
Well, I’m excited about my latest collection, which is about to drop. I’m looking forward to more growth, more expansion, more mining of West African culture and marrying that with other cultures. We are world citizens, influenced by many things. I’m using clothing as a vehicle to spread this message.
Wale, best of luck to you in the future.
Check out Wale’s brand, Ikire Jones, here.
Look at me.
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The next installment of Most Important Ugly photographs are now live on autostraddle.com. Go read the stories behind these photographs HERE
Sean Li Wong, 2014
Grace Linderholm, 2013
Photo: Tayler Smith
Makeup: Arabelle Sicardi
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