Converse Partners with Foday Dumbuya, founder of Labrum London for LFW AW21 as part of this season’s All Star Programme

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Founded by Dumbuya in 2014, Labrum was born out of a passion for British tailoring and West African design. By telling the untold stories of West Africa, Labrum aims to bridge the gap between Western and West African culture. An undercurrent to the brand is the desire to reposition the discussion around immigrants in the West.

For 2021, Dumbuya is continuing his journey as a part of the Converse All Star programme, Converse’s robust community- focused ecosystem of mentorship, commissions and funding. Converse is sponsoring “All Star Projects” in key cities, such as London, specifically focusing on supporting emerging creatives from underrepresented demographics. By funding these projects and supporting via mentorship, Converse aims to break cultural barriers and to provide more opportunity for individuals in the creative fields; accelerating the individual impact of these All Star community members.

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In London, Dumbuya is provoking new conversations around diversity, representation and youth development. The two brands partnered in October 2020 to create more opportunities for young London talent in the creative field, with Converse funding a work placement for a studio manager at Labrum.

Building on their existing All Star relationship which began in 2019, this season Converse supported Labrum’s AW21 London Fashion Week show ‘St Giles Blackbirds’ as part of their All Star Projects programme. Debuting at London Fashion Week for AW21, the Labrum London show was an ode to the people living near the St Giles Church in the late 1700’s. The show celebrated a section of the black community comprising of; sailors, soldiers and former slaves, who had settled in England and were later dispassionately transported to Sierra Leone. Converse also supported the AW21 runway show with the iconic Chuck Taylor 70 in the ‘dark soba’ seasonal colourway.

We caught up with Sam Coviello, who secured the role of Studio Manager at Labrum London after we teamed up with Converse to launch two paid internships at the designer’s studio. 

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What was your upbringing like? Were you encouraged to be creative when you were younger? What were some key experiences that shaped you?

I was born and raised in Como, but I spent the early years of my childhood in Caracas, Venezuela. My mother taught me everything I know, she’s the one who nurtured my creativity by letting me being myself and follow my aspirations. I graduated in History of Fashion and Costume from art school and moved to London at nineteen. I worked in luxury retail for three years as a stylist and visual merchandiser whilst developing my portfolio and studying Fashion Design at uni.

You’re Italian and Venezuelan and you’re a Fashion & Costume Designer. What led you to choose this path? Does your culture and heritage play a part in how you work and what you design?

I’ve always been bewitched by the unconventional. The figure of the outcast fascinates me. My upbringing in Italy was definitely essential for me in defining and refining my taste. Vintage cinema and queer history are some of the things that inspire me most. The intersection of tradition and innovation is the space where creation takes place for me.

How are you finding your role as Studio Manager at Labrum?

I spend my time at Labrum prototyping, pattern cutting and styling. I liaise with clients, look after the website and work with the team on our social media. We all work organically and help each other out in the studio. I’m extremely grateful to Converse for making me an All Star and sponsoring me to work here. Both Labrum and Converse are about expressing individuality, and that is deeply relatable and inspiring to me, because as an artist I share the same vision.

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How were you involved in the bringing Labrum’s AW21 collection to life?

For the Labrum AW21 collection “St. Giles Blackbirds” I worked in the studio developing pattern and prototyping some of the garments. Digitally I mainly looked after the website and social media, and liaised with clients and mail enquiries. A good amount of time was spent illustrating garments and CADs for the lookbook. For the runway show I assisted Ibrahim Kamara in styling the collection. I enjoyed working closely on set with photographers and set designers for the campaign.

What have you learnt since starting your internship at Labrum?

This internship has offered me multiple opportunities to learn new skills and techniques. At Labrum I’m in touch with West African culture and its history, understanding their impact on the mainstream and today’s society. It gave me an insight into how a menswear fashion brand is well structured and organised in its entirety.

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