How Vivendii Has Swept the Business

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“No pretentious shit, simply us,” Jimmy Ayeni laughs when he talks about Modus Vivendii, the Tumblr blog-turned-brand he and his childhood good friend Ola Badiru began 10 years in the past. Latin for “the lifestyle,” it was an area to doc their lives and perspective on tradition, model and vogue from their homegrown label. “The weblog was about every little thing we preferred,” Badiru provides. “But it surely additionally led us to dig into our roots and showcase the issues that influenced us and what Nigeria actually means to us.”

Badiru takes it again to the start. “We had been really born and raised in London and moved to Nigeria at one level in our lives. So it’s like we’re from each locations — and the truth of all of it.” Ayeni and Badiru met in Lagos after their households had moved again from England at first of secondary college. They related over their widespread have to be totally different, rebelling towards Nigerian pressures to be “tremendous conventional” and change into a lawyer or physician. “We didn’t know what we wished to do on the time,” Ayeni remembers. “However we acknowledged in one another we wished to do different shit.”

“At that age, we had been actually desirous about model,“ Badiru provides. “We wished to look totally different, put on out-of-the-box stuff. We made customized shirts, put our title on stuff, bedazzled stuff.” For a yr eight artwork task, Ayeni had the concept to make his college uniform polo right into a soccer jersey by display screen printing the again within the model of a Nigerian church announcement together with his title and a quantity. It was a success together with his classmates — not a lot with the academics. “I acquired in hella hassle,” Ayeni laughs. Quickly 40 different children in school wished the identical. These polos are misplaced to historical past, but the apply would arrange what would change into Vivendii, the model.

As a substitute of ending secondary college in Lagos, they went again to England to do their A ranges. They had been despatched to separate boarding colleges, however would meet up any time they may in London. Within the metropolis, they continued their hustle: making T-shirts and internet hosting membership nights. Pooling cash with associates to safe a venue, they’d earn again their funding after which some by charging cowl. “We had been 16, 17, so we used faux Nigerian licenses that stated we had been 20 to get in and e book,” says Ayeni. They might do something they may do to search out individuals on the identical wavelength. “Hip-hop was effervescent up in America, however in England it wasn’t actually like that. Individuals had been nonetheless large on the band shit, Kings of Leon, Abercrombie and Fitch,” remembers Ayeni. “Streetwear hadn’t even had something close to a second. We had been simply attempting to satisfy individuals who would acknowledge a Damien Hirst or take heed to a 2007 Kanye freestyle or an outdated Lil Wayne mixtape and be like, ‘Oh, yo, that is sick.’”

When Huge Sean got here on tour to London in August 2011, solely half a yr after they began the weblog, nobody on the golf equipment knew who he was. Shocked, they stepped in: “What? Yo, we’ll care for him. We’ll do every little thing; we’ll model him. Huge Sean must know that once we styled him for his present in London, we had been 18,” Ayeni laughs. “We’re giving Huge Sean drip. He wore our new T-shirt that we simply dropped. He had these [Junya] Watanabe denims on. It was a complete new vibe.” That have acquired them styling different artists, however it was a gathering simply earlier than Christmas 2011 that basically pushed the collective into vogue.

The late Franca Sozzani and Roberto Cavalli had been in Lagos on a expertise scouting journey and met with the blokes. Impressed with what that they had achieved at such a younger age and at what they had been attempting to construct between Lagos and London, the Italian industry-heavyweights inspired them to concentrate on their model.

Constructing a model in Nigeria, nonetheless, isn’t a simple process. “There’s poor infrastructure in Nigeria,” Badiru explains. “We don’t have electrical energy 24/7. This creates a really laborious atmosphere for younger individuals to thrive. The federal government are a corrupt establishment. They’re stealing from the way forward for the nation and stifling the youth.” Seventy p.c of Nigeria’s 200 million inhabitants is underneath the age of 30, with the median age of 18. And by 2050, Nigeria is projected by the UN to be the third-most populous nation. As the federal government tries and fails to implement applications to interact youth now, a lot expertise goes untapped.

“Youth aren’t pushed to be taught creativity, which is on the coronary heart of every little thing,” Badiru continues. “We’d like everyone to be inventive to create a greater nation. From a lot ache, Nigerians have been capable of rise above and convey a lot magnificence and vibrancy into the world — however think about being supported by a authorities that values you. That may go into the world tenfold. Endlessly, we’re going to be screaming to the hilltops that younger individuals in Africa, in Nigeria, have to be protected and valued.”

As unofficial ambassadors for younger Nigerians, Vivendii needs to make use of its platform to create dialogue, to ship a message to these children who grew up like they did. “When individuals purchase our garments, we wish individuals to suppose it’s hearth, however that it ought to imply one thing as properly,” Ayeni says. Political critique is especially pertinent following the #EndSARS protests to finish police brutality and extortion within the collective’s homeland, the place violent assaults throughout the nation by authorities’s safety forces left greater than 51 civilians lifeless on simply sooner or later final October.

Slogans like “ENJOY YOUR LIFE,” “YOUTH HAS NO AGE,” and “THESE ARE MY CHURCH CLOTHES” on T-shirts and sweaters informed older generations a brand new youth is coming. For a society the place 99.5 p.c of the inhabitants establish as both Muslim or Christian, faith is so woven into the material of on a regular basis life in Nigeria. With the expectation to attend church in your ironed go well with, arms clasped in prayer, the collective need some of these phrases to incite a revolution questioning the established order. “How does me carrying a T-shirt change my relationship with God?” Ayeni asks. Or how about their tongue-in-cheek mercurial cross brand that adorns greater than half their assortment?

That irreverence for conference is what makes Vivendii’s streetwear really feel so thrilling. Their garments take us again to 2002, when as a child you’d sneak onto your mother and father’ pc to fiddle making digital graffiti in Paint or collage WordArt, or peeking onto the Web — earlier than deleting the looking historical past, in fact. By means of Vivendii’s clothes, the early-aughts MTV aesthetics the blokes had been raised on are copy-pasted, highlighted, and placed on daring in a warped techno fantasy.

Adhering to the seasonal vogue calendar, nonetheless, wasn’t a route the model house owners may initially take. “We had been so younger and a lot stuff was taking place, we by no means had the time to breathe and have a look at the place we had been at and going,” Ayeni says of their year-and-a-half hiatus from the style world. “We work on our personal phrases now.” Which means releasing drops when it is smart. Vivendii’s a continuously evolving thought, and like all multi-hyphenate inventive entity, specializing in one pursuit at a time doesn’t go well with their ethos.

“Rising up, we used to mess around with rap,” Badiru remembers. “Jimmy made a few data we’d play on highway journeys. We rinsed these data.” Ayeni slyly continues, “Low key, I did make some music again within the day, however it was of the necessity for a inventive expression, of eager to get my concepts out differently. We’d been making vogue T-shirts, however generally there wasn’t sufficient house for me to say what I wished.”

Naturally, they started releasing mixtapes and DJing as Vivendii Sound. “We wished to get to a degree the place we may management every little thing,” Ayeni says. And by working with and supporting Afro-beats and Alté musicians in Lagos, they now present the world what’s taking place there. “We need to deliver individuals what’s occurring within the underground Nigerian music scene and take it again to the ’80s to indicate that we’re about another shit with Steve Monite and Cheryl Lynn.”

Issues have been full throttle since stepping again into the style world on the finish of final yr. Vivendii was stocked at Browns, the London-based retailer, by a partnership with Homecoming, the Lagosian cultural pageant created to amplify West African expertise. The model additionally received a £20,000 grant from the Metallic Fund, which allowed them to redo their web site and produce extra, beforehand sold-out merchandise. Extra product means extra individuals can get their arms on them, an essential feat for a model that believes vogue ought to now not be about exclusivity.

“A brand new type of species of human being is being born, and the normal mindset of division goes to quickly be eradicated,” Badiru says. “The children are all plugged in. We’re all multicultural. All of us got here from one place, so we’re all related.”

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