ABAGA VELLI - meaning 'Art Brings Access, Grants Ascendance' - is a cult design brand specializing in utilitarian, modular clothing with tactile fabrications and artisanal finishes. Co-founder and Creative Director Adémidé Udoma builds the brand's values on community, culture and displacement, ensuring the brand infuses lived experiences and extensive research into every garment, image and graphic they create. We speak to founders Adémidé and Nehemiah on their move to Design District and what's in store for the brand.
Design District: Could you both please tell us a bit about your background and how you got started in the creative industries?
AU: I have been interested in music, fashion and the arts from as young as I can remember. From designing Myspaces to producing music and customising clothes. Through those initial interests, it evolved into a professional practice.
NHA: My family was heavily into music and artistic expression within black art. Being exposed to that from an early age was my gateway which allowed me to explore my creative expression and later build my own lane in the creative industries.
DD: What does the "Velli" in Abaga Velli mean?
NHA: The "Velli" represents family
DD: Where have you found the most support in your careers? & One of the biggest challenges of working in the creative industries can be finding the support you need…
AU: From building a tight-knit community of like-minded creatives. I think it's important for artists to create environments that complement their ambitions and stimulate their mind.
NHA: Similar to Ademide, to be fair, like-minded creatives, family and also people I would consider family.
DD: What kind of support do you wish you'd had more of starting out?
AU: Infrastructure, I feel a lot of institutions offer support in a very bureaucratic way, which sometimes can leave unconventional artists such as myself at the short end of the stick.
DD: Is there another independent label that's exciting you right now? & Who, where and what inspires you?
AU: I'm inspired by literature and films mostly, writers such as James Baldwin and filmmakers such as John Luc-Goddard, to name a few. I really like Grace Wales Bonner, Bianca Saunders and Lack of Guidance.
NHA: I'm heavily inspired by music, travelling and classic films.
DD: What advice would you give to other creatives starting out in the industry, especially in fashion?
AU: Don't follow trends
NHA: Believe in yourself, back yourself and don't be afraid of making mistakes.
DD: Why have you chosen Design District for your new studio?
AU & NHA: We chose the Design district mainly due to the environment. The environment at the design district is positive, and we are around like-minded peers.
DD: What's your favourite thing about your new studio?
NHA: We have good natural lighting in our space, the view we have is also a big thing. The view itself is something that helps to push us all to work harder but also appreciate where we are now and what we’ve already achieved.
DD: And about the district?
AU & NHA: The opportunities it brings to work with other independents, Design District has some amazing creatives all in one space which gives us all opportunities to meet and work with people we may not have had the opportunity to do so.
DD: What's next for Abaga Velli?
AU & NHA: We are currently sorting out production for our first ready-to-wear collection, which showed at fashion week, just gone. It should be in stores by the end of the year.
DD: How can people stay in the know about all things Abaga Velli?
Photo credits: Udomajanssen & Louis Flashman