Even a fashion novice knows who Coco Chanel is. Few haven’t heard of Christian Dior, Yves St. Laurent, and Ralph Lauren. And while you may need to work in “the industry” to recognize names like Prabal Gurung, Yigal Azrouel and Proenza Schouler, there’s a new heavy hitter that needs to start rolling off your tongue: ++FRESH.i.AM++.
The brainchild of Nigerian-born Tunde Ogunnoiki, ++FRESH.i.AM++ markets itself as an art brand—a conglomeration of art, fashion, music and culture. And while the fashion aspect is truly groundbreaking, the brand started as something much simpler.
“Growing up in Nigeria, I learned that there isn’t a word for art… There was always art all around us, but it was engrained in every day life,” says Tunde. So after a controversially provocative art project got him expelled from college, he decided to promote his artistic philosophy by creating a website focused on bringing raw, relatively unknown talent to the masses. Within a year of going live, the site was receiving hundreds of thousands of hits a month.
But Tunde wasn’t stopping there. In 2009, he went on to develop a line of graphic tees that helped spread the unique ++FRESH.i.AM++ point of view. After an immensely popular first run, he developed a second collection, this time featuring a duo of pendants called Lok & Ki. That was quickly followed up by the third collection, a line called “Peaches” that introduced their State of Mind hat collaboration with The Lovers.
Now, there’s clearly a lot more to ++FRESH.i.AM++ than just clothes. Even the name of the brand is multi-dimensional. According to Tunde, “the name is meant to reaffirm the originality of the individual, and the plus signs at the beginning and the end are meant to symbolize what has been done, and what is to come.”
Lately, ++FRESH.i.AM++ has plenty on its plate. Their collaboration with The Lovers, the creative team behind recording artist Theophilus London, has resulted in international exposure. They’ve also worked with audio/visual group Steed Lord and have a soon to be released collaboration with accessories designers Dee & Ricky.
So, what’s next? “My dream collaborations would be with Phenomenon, Marc Jacobs, Surface to Air, Dosa Kim, Apparatus ATL, and Overthrow,” says an appreciative Tunde. “I just feel blessed to be working with such talented individuals.” In the meantime though, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more content online, as well as their next collection.