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Art Comes First talks Identity and Style

"We never really just wanted it to be a fashion brand. The name represents so many things to so many people, it's not just a brand name."
Shaka Maidoh

We never really just wanted it to be a fashion brand. The name represents so many things to so many people, it’s not just a brand name. It’s also like a message, a slogan, it’s a statement. But it’s also a way of life in a sense where “what does art mean to you?” and “what comes first in your life?

Can you tell us how to make any style yours; how does one go about it?

I think making any style yours is really more about knowing yourself. That’s the reason we often use the words “Art of Knowing Yourself”. If you picture yourself at an early age, and how much you’ve changed until now because you went through a journey of looking for yourself.

We’re all soul searching right? I think you make a style your own when you really understand the art of knowing yourself. The art of knowing yourself is not only “I know myself well, I can do this, I can do that”. It’s really not about that. It’s first of all, knowing your build, knowing your complexion, knowing your silhouette, knowing yourself in terms of how you gravitate with the colors; knowing shapes, knowing the feeling of a cloth on your body.

So many people say “this is too tight it doesn’t go with me”, because your body fights against it, which means you should already discard it. The art of knowing yourself is really based on that. You make style your own when you really understand. Like, let’s say: I’m a shorter guy, and I can be like “oh short guys we should never wear flat shoes cause of our height” ;but nobody says that, there are no rules on that.

If I figure out what sort of silhouettes I wear. Some silhouettes might say I need platforms or heels; some silhouettes might say I need flat shoes. So it’s really understanding who is this person in front of me?

And every day trying to make sure you look at yourself from different points of view. Look at yourself on a physical level and ask “how am I?”, look at yourself on an emotional level and ask “how am I?”, look at yourself on a spiritual level. I think all that will guide you through.

If you look at myself as a person, I didn’t start from dressing the way I dress today, or using the stuff I use today. But it was really about finding what works for me. By the time I find what works for me, it becomes me, because of the consistency.

And that consistency makes that thing belong to me. Like when someone sees someone wearing a wider brim hat and sunglasses, from the back they’ll say “that’s so Sam”, that’s how you get to own things but there’s nothing new or special about a wider brim hat and sunglasses, ***you can see many people worn them, but it’s how consistent you are with one thing and how yours it becomes.

It’s almost like it becomes a tattoo on your skin when people look at it and say “I’ve seen this before but I’ve never seen it this way”, because your soul is attached to that product and I think that’s kind of the way you make any style yours.

Because really, there is nothing special about styles, everybody wears clothing, everybody thinks they are stylish in their own way but I think really it’s more about that consistency of creating a thing and making it yours.

I remember when I was younger, I had a thing about a khaki shirt, and that khaki shirt was mine because it was the one thing I was always looking forward to when it was in the laundry. I loved the feeling of that fabric on my skin especially when it was freshly laundered, dried, ironed. Soon as I put it on my body it was different, it was like a superman cape!

I was just out there, doing stuff I would not even think about. So it’s really more about “I found my piece of cloth, and that becomes my armour”. So once you feel like everything you put on yourself is your armour, you’re actually making that style your own.

Cause at the end of the day, style is about expressing yourself. It’s an expression of yourself but at the same time style is also armour to cover certain insecurities people have, to communicate with certain people, to defend yourself from certain weather situations. Once you create that armour, you’ve made that style your own.

How would you describe the emotional range of ACF?

So the emotional range of Art Comes First, I think… it has a lot to do with the way we express most of our deep feelings into what you call fashion or style. It has to do with the storytelling of our brand. Through fashion, we get a chance to become these storytellers. But really it was never about fashion, it was more about trying to make sure that we connect so much with our roots, our backgrounds. So we went deep into each part of what we actually felt was needed to be told. I think the emotional range would be… a non-conformist, definitely a rebel, a sort of like a traditional child with an edge, or with innovation.

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Art Comes First: Exploring the Intersection of Style and Identity

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