Opaque Spectrum: Behind The Scenes
The Amateur Channel caught up recently with the head designer and pioneer of Opaque Spectrum, Ademide “Demz” Adepetun. Taking us on an insightful interview about his brand, his first collection, managing fashion & school and other projects.
Did Your early life influence your desire for fashion? How were you in the loop about fashion growing up?
So it’s strange because in my early life, I wasn’t really interested in fashion. Sure I knew how to put things together for the whole outfit to look “cool” or nice (or however I defined cool or nice in those periods of time), but I never really was into fashion heavily. I knew what the next average person knew about fashion; the big names, and an idea of “cool”.
What and who Influenced you? How did you identify that you wanted to venture into fashion?
Despite my early minimal interest in fashion, my immediate older brother, Denola aka Denola Grey, was heavily into fashion. You see him now, so you can imagine him then. He definitely influenced my taste, pushing me to strive for finer/ more exquisite aesthetics (He did this mostly by condemning the outfits I had on before I left the house). His “condemning” (I use this in an endearing context) might have actually trained my young eyes more; to see better in terms of knowing what went with what and in what colors etc. So Denola I believe has been a major influence on my early taste and my eye for color and detail.
However, what pushed me to venture into fashion was something totally different. it was actually an existential crisis (long story). I realized in the aftermath of this “breakthrough” ( the word crisis is too negative for such a positive phenomenon) that there were two kinds of people; consumers and creators and I decided that I wanted to be the latter. It was as though I began to see the world with fresh eyes as I began to unlearn and relearn all that I thought I knew to be fact or true. I had a lot of ideas and commentary that I wanted to make about society and the world at large. So I started a blog, and from sharing ideas with blog posts, It turned to share ideas on clothing. I would take fabric paint and write thought essays on denim jackets and other items of clothing. I just thought “Why not?” I had not tried to be a “fashion person” but I was complimented on the way I dressed because I could throw things together in simple ways.
What do you do currently?
I am a student at Art School in Boston.
Where and When did you start Opaque spectrum?
Tricky question because Opaque Spectrum was born from the evolution of previous ideas. I’d say I started Opaque Spectrum in the summer/ fall of 2016. That’s when I gave the design studio its name.
What sparked and motivated the idea of you venturing into fashion?
The idea that I could make commentary on the world via a medium that is both representative of what the wearer thinks and a medium that is so evocative and out in the public. That’s what sparked the motivation initially. Later, it became about design and I became obsessed with design. The design of aesthetics, the design of moods, etc. And one can do all these things with clothing. It is a highly expressive medium/ industry.
What’s the background of your brand? Was it always your intention to own a streetwear/menswear brand?
As far as background goes; the brand’s identity (whilst not fully formed yet) is one that is vested in the important questions and nuances of humanity, life and the universe as a whole. I seek to make commentary on these things. However, if you asked me 3 years ago if I’d be into streetwear/ high fashion I ’d have thought you to be quite deluded. It just kind of all happened organically in the process of trying to better myself and get my ideas out there and here we are. I also don’t define what I make as streetwear or strictly menswear. As I roll out more projects I hope people will see the studio for what is really is; a boundless creative growing collective/ expression of ideas.
What is streetwear in Nigeria’s fashion and culture right now? What is the integration between streetwear and Men’s Wear?
So streetwear has existed in the heart of Nigeria’s culture for a long time now. You see the knock-off products of international streetwear brands everywhere in the streets. It should come as no surprise seeing as Nigeria is indeed a cultural melting pot. We just have access to a lot of western media and the rampant piracy industry have made such culture accessible to all economic classes. The proliferation and wide use of radio alone have done this. So men and women alike would wear knock off Gucci, Supreme, Fendi, Vetements, D&G, Prada- you name it.
That being said, I don’t think the real question here is about the integration between streetwear and menswear I think the real question concerns the integration between streetwear and high fashion. As the word becomes more and more informal; streetwear is being elevated into high fashion and high fashion is in turn opening up to streetwear. Opaque Spectrum and my design aesthetics definitely aim to dance on that line. The line of comfort, function, and elegance.
I think the age of the “starving artist “ is over. Artists are out here getting theirs but there would always be the issue of the “sell out” artist which is an artist that compromises on their creative vision and purity just to make money.
What kind of challenges did you face while working on your first solo project and Did you have any fears?
My first solo project came in the wake of a joint project that I had put together. Due amateur to naivety on my part I had taken a loss on the previous project and of course the fears of such repeating itself in my solo project lingered. It’s always the fear fo not being good enough or the fear of how your products will be received, especially how they’d be received by people who knew me in my “previous life” as a business student, before deciding to hone in on my creativity.
What have been your pivotal projects and how have you gotten here? How confident were you when you put out your first collection? Which of your projects do you consider your greatest achievement and why?
I think my most pivotal project to date is the “Restless Mind” Hand-Painted Jacket project. It features a range of 9 hand-painted denim jackets each with their individual messages; never to be recreated again; true one of nones. I deem this project as pivotal mostly because it served as a creative breakthrough for me and what I could do which in turn opened my mind to countless other ideas and opportunities.
Do you think streetwear is becoming a movement in Nigeria? Do you plan to keep infusing Nigerian culture into your brand? What type of factors did you encounter in designing your collection and getting materials?
Streetwear, in terms of Nigerian, created and owned brands has a lot of buzz with new brands popping up monthly almost. It is already a movement. Due to the pioneering by a few individuals in the culture here in Lagos; more and more Nigerians are beginning to see creativity as a viable income earning option.
With the proliferation of street culture from the UK and US to Nigeria, Nigerians are begging to draw inspiration form their boundless imagination and also from the environment around them to create clothing brands that mostly start off with streetwear. With Opaque Spectrum, I drew inspiration from the pulse of the Nigerian youth ( and people in general) and made comments on some issues/emotions in this ever problematic nation.
Your Clothes are designed and manufactured in what country?
For my manufactured clothes, they are designed and manufactured here in Nigeria. It is difficult but I’d like to reiterate that quality production is possible in Nigeria. And of course, the hand-made/ hand-painted pieces are made by me wherever I am.
The tug-of-war between art and commerce how does it affect you and your brand as a whole? Where’s the biggest frustration in your career at this very moment?
For starters, I think the age of the “starving artist “ is over. Artists are out here getting theirs but there would always be the issue of the “sell out” artist which is an artist that compromises on their creative vision and purity just to make money.
In my experience so far, I’ve tried my best to be unwavering and to only create what I want to create. One thing I have struggled with is commissions and people wanting me to do a particular design for them, custom to their preferences. I find it difficult to accept despite the money because an average hand painted piece requires 12 hours of work because of this huge time commitment, I mostly want to create things born of my own intention. My biggest frustration comes from balancing the admin and logistic tasks with the creative tasks. For the better half of summer, I have been unable to create fresh design because I have been too busy fulfilling orders. Its something I need to work at; I need to find a better balance.
How old are you? What’s your connection with the kids and culture out here today? In the age of social media where everyone is being creative and releasing contents and ads, How do you keep up with currents industry standards, trends, and new tools?
I’m 22 and it’s crazy that I feel old with what these kids these days are getting up to, but I do. It really is all about the kids, they are and always have been the bearers of the”culture.” I don’t like to keep up with trends when I find myself doing that I snap myself out of it. If you’re following a trend as a designer, you can call yourself a designer but not an artist unless you breathe totally fresh air into the trend. Bring something fresh to the table even if is a combination of already existing ideas; combine them and make the new idea novel.
Do you consider yourself an ambitious person? What is your creative process like?
I do consider myself an ambitious person. Honestly, my creative process is pretty up in the air right now but I’m basically inspired by real-life struggles, joys, activities, and the things that could possibly exist within it.
Your passion for art and music, how you have infused it into your creative process and brand?
I believe all senses (if possible) should be engaged creatively and one of my interests is creating experiences/ events that do so. So even if I’m designing clothing, the way I showcase said clothing would be a unique audiovisual experience with its own theme and the conceptual idea behind it. Its like project within a project, within a project.
Accessibility has definitely become more and more important within fashion. Who do you consider to be the Opaque Spectrum customer? Who do you picture wearing your brand?
It is difficult to say. Opaque Spectrum is more conceptual than anything so I guess I’d say anyone with a functioning brain hahaha. And there would be different thoughts and ideas expressed with the clothes so whoever gets it would buy it and if they just think its cool, then that works well too.
Do you have a specific designer ethos and what do you think would draws people to your work? What do you consider before beginning a new project? What piece of information is of the utmost value ??
For me, the most important thing is the seriousness and caliber of my collaborator.
Who is the perfect designer for you?
I don’t think such a thing exists in reality but I’d say the perfect designer to me is Virgil Abloh. Mostly because of his ability to produce quality content so fast and so frequently whilst tackling several different projects and on the go. It’s almost inhuman, I’m sure such workflow comes with so much sacrifice.
It’s Hard to find people who share the same ideas as one especially when doing something specific it’s better to have less noise so how important are collaborations to you as an individual and a brand? Do you have plans on collaborating with other brands?
I believe collaboration is one of creativity’s proudest moments.
What are your hopes for Opaque spectrum? What would you like to see it evolve into? Do you think you’ll ever sell to investors?
Opaque Spectrum isn’t actually a clothing company; that would be putting it in a very small box. It’s a design studio; a creative house with interests in different sectors and industries. The overarching goal for Opaque comes with a loaded explanation but I do seek to expand by integrating backward in textile production and logistic/communication. Opaque spectrum would someday soon provide services for other businesses as well as be consumer facing. These services range from production to branding and editorial campaigns etc.
Do you think music artist and influencers are a drive in the purchase of clothing right now?
Of course it is so apparent. In fact, I started getting most of my sales when I decided to focus on social media and the different personalities that ordered from me. Social media is mainstream and is staying and it is extremely lucrative if used to market. Everyone wants to be closer to the people they adore online so co-signs from social media figures are huge for businesses.
Advice for upcoming fashion designer or creative directors?
Face your front and don’t be intimidated by big business; worry about impressing yourself with the things you create. Don’t worry about “friends and family “ not supporting you; they are too used to you and find it difficult to realize how talented/ extraordinary you actually are/ see you as normal. Do things organically; don’t put the weight of the world of your shoulders with trying to meet deadlines or goals you set up for yourself. Sometimes you don’t reach them or you were too optimistic and fall short but that’s okay. Take it one step at a time. With consistency, great content and products, and continuous self-improvement; the sky is literally the starting point.
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