In Conversation With Designers of The YouTube Music Legacy Series: Fashion X Music ft [@BenjartWorld], [@KASE_TP], [@TheTribe07]

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YouTube Music and Westfield London are joining forces to champion the very best in Black British fashion and music in a new livestream today at 19.00 GMT.

Hosted by presenter and DJ Henrie Kwushue, the stream will showcase six Black British designers and their collections through runway shows, live performances from some of the UK’s most exciting artists, and behind the scenes interviews, giving insights into the inspiration behind each of the collections and what being a Black British designer in 2020 truly means.

Leading up to the livestream on GUAP TV tonight, we spoke to some of the designers to gain some more insight on what went into their collections, the future of fashion and music and the legacy they are hoping to leave.

Benjart

Benjart is a British streetwear brand founded by Benjamin, most popularly known for their extensive range of tracksuits.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re based

My Name is Benjamin, Director/ owner of Benjart. Currently, we are based at our HQ In Hertfordshire, however the company was born and raised in the London borough of Brent, NW London.

Tell us about something random that inspired your latest collection?

The virus for sure! Corona Virus and the lockdowns have had a direct impact on how we have been releasing products and the structure of our drops. With the stores closed we believe that we had a duty of care to provide our existing and prospective customers with essential pieces matching the mood of the current climate. Darker tones and constant drops have been a thing of 2020 for us. Once things open back up we hope to be able to resume regular programming!

What do you think the future holds in terms of collaborations between fashion and music brands?

There’s a massive future for it! British street fashion is just at its beginning stages, when we began 13 years ago there were only 3/4 brands, now there are hundreds if not thousands! The fusions / collaborations with the music scene will keep coming and I expect to see more unique and unorthodox mergers with brands and artists such as the Youtube legacy event. Amazing stuff!

What legacy would you like to leave with your brand? 

The blue print! I  think we are living out the legacy as we speak, a £100 start up turned into a fully fledged fashion operation turning over 7 figures annually whilst remaining 100 percent independent. Benjart’s legacy is the blueprint, the proof that the UK street fashion dream is achievable.

What does being a Black British designer in 2020 mean to you? 

Being a Black British designer in 2020 means a lot to us. It’s our culture, our influences, our style, literally everything that we do embodies Black Britain. We are a product of the Windrush generation! Our brand was born from a traditionally Black area and grew with the support of our local community.

Being a Black designer in 2020 also means creating your own eco system and operating outside of the scope of the mainstream fashion scene. What was once seen as a disadvantage to us we now see as the perfect opportunity to navigate and grow through the times without having to follow the traditional fashion cycle fashion brands are required to follow. 

Son’s of the First Tribes

Son’s of the First Tribes, also known as SOFT, is conceptual, creative lifestyle brand which has gained a cult following over the last few years. Founded by Moshood and Femi, SOFT is all about building a culture that people can feel a part of which has been translated into a monochromatic black palette for the brand with the occasional accent, reflecting a uniform, collective style.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re based

My name is Mosh Balogun and I am a Conceptual Designer & Strategist. I’m from South East London but my workstation is in the Whitechapel area of East London.  

Tell us about something random that inspired your latest collection?

The collection had two points of inspiration. The first was me staring at the display picture for the World Health Organisation, you know the profile that just randomly decided to move into your activity page on instagram. The second piece of inspiration came when I got the phone call about the Youtube and Westfield project. I’d just come back from holiday and that was still on my mind because I decided that I was going to make the collection a capsule of holiday essentials. 

What do you think the future holds in terms of collaborations between fashion and music brands?

I think it will remain as strong as it has always been. I do hope the relationship becomes more equal though. Both parties are selling style and influence so i think both parties should try and recognise each other’s worth.

Will supreme ever really be able work out and pay how much it owes the early Hip Hop influencers that co-signed the brand? NO! How do you work out the cultural influence of lets say the Wu-Tang logo on streetwear culture? Regardless of the collaboration I think there needs to be a way to measure the compensation from profits gained through cultural influence over time. This needs to happen for both parties.  

What legacy would you like to leave with your brand? 

I just want to leave the place cleaner than I found it. There’s a bible story called the parable of the talents. This story was drummed into my head as a kid by my auntie and uncle. I never really understood it when i was young but i fully understand it now. You have to leave the place better than you found it. 

What does being a Black British designer in 2020 mean to you? 

Well it means absolutely nothing to me if i don’t do my job correctly. My hands have to do the talking before anything else. Once I’m satisfied with the work of my hands then maybe I can look at the complexity levels caused because of my race. But if i’m honest those complexity levels gas me up even more. Oh and being a human in 2020 has been tough but we got through it like we always do. 

KÄSE

KÄSE is an art direction and design consultancy agency that simultaneously operates as a fashion brand. Inspired by British street culture and human interest, they are a symbol of a new wave in product and communications that strives to continuously refine their output between the always-evolving relationship between theory and practice.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re based

KÄSE is an agency-as-brand that promises to transform the man in the streets world with tools and uniforms. It is the child of two melting pots, one being the city that birthed the founders, London, and the other being the playground for the entire world, the Internet.

Tell us about something random that inspired your latest collection?

Breaking down the influence of our personal experiences is a critical observational challenge. Our latest collection “MUDDY WATERS” embodies ideas and sensibilities refined by the relationship between streetwear and sportswear. The collection reflects individualism in a collective uniform that elevates the integrity of the articles of clothing, meaning our experiences act as surrogate objects embodying the art impulse.

“MUDDY WATERS” is envisioned through the words ‘No one but ourselves can free our minds’ Bob Marley, 1980, a timeless lyric that acts as a reminder that the man in the streets can transform their environment through understanding that their mud is not an obstacle but a catalyst for greatness.

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What do you think the future holds in terms of collaborations between fashion and music brands?

We are constantly reminded that music and fashion are intertwining entities that evolve in tandem. We think the future holds opportunities for those without access and influence within the current political and economic system to voice their opinions and create real change. Collaborations between fashion and music brands can go a long way in changing the mind of the man in the streets, as that is who really drives the world we’re in.

What legacy would you like the leave with your brand?

KÄSE wants to leave a legacy that surpasses the stitches on our labels. We want to be a part of the natural elevation of how we think as a community when it comes to how we can change our realities, recreate our own world and reorganise what people think when they hear about the streets.

What does being a Black British designer in 2020 mean to you?

We have a chance to shine light on great stories of the Black British experience whilst creating things in response to those atmospheres. Our influence amongst each other is at a heightened experience now and I think our generation in particular were afforded a range of opportunities opposite to the ones we would have gotten where we come from in Africa.

Also presenting collections at the YouTube Legacy Music X Fashion show will be: British-Nigerian designer Walé Adeyemi MBE, whose collection will be showcased by R&B singer Tiana Major9, British Nigerian Menswear designer Tokyo James, presenting his collection on rapper Pa Salieu and Bad Society Club, whose cult luxury jumpsuits will be worn by Ms Banks.

The livestream will take place on GUAP TV, tonight at 19.00 GMT.

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