Similoluwa Alexander Adewole who goes by the moniker, Simi Teds launched his fashion brand Teds Bespoke as a Law student of Babcock University. He is the last in a family of four children. Simi Teds has always loved fashion and began his brand because he couldn’t afford the kind of clothes he wanted. What better way to live one’s life, if not turn one’s challenges into business?
In this exclusive interview, he talked about his inspiration; the challenge running his brand from the University till now; his recent collection, “Sunset in Moscow” and his desire to partner with Christiano Ronaldo’s fashion brand.
VUN: Talk about your background and how you got interested in fashion.
Simi Teds: I was born into a family of four children. All four boys. I am the last child. The four of us have always had a flair for fashion from time. My passion for fashion, however, grew over the years. I took up fashion as a business when I got admitted into the university and couldn’t afford the kind of clothes I wanted. So, I decided to design and make my own clothes and I started getting a lot of compliments and a few orders. That’s what gave birth to Simi Teds & Teds Bespoke.
VUN: How did the name Simi Teds and Teds Bespoke come about?
Simi Teds: They are both brand names actually. Simi is my name. Teds came in place as a result of the first logo that was designed for my brand, and for the fact that I wanted a name that could be remembered easily. Bespoke means something that is “made to fit”.
VUN: Isn’t it strange that as a student of Babcock you couldn’t afford the kind of clothes you wanted?
Simi Teds: Well, you can call it strange. But, I have resolved to call it “fate”. I feel if I could afford all the clothes I wanted, I wouldn’t have started my clothing brand. But trust me, I was really broke or maybe the clothes I wanted were really expensive. I’m still broke though. *laughs*
VUN: *laughs* What inspires your designs?
Simi Teds: I would say everything around me actually. People, nature, and most importantly the desire to be unique and classy.
VUN: What is your creative process?
Simi Teds: I will say, it’s quite interesting; even though it can be breathtaking. I love the fact that I gain more experience every other day during and after the creation of a masterpiece.
VUN: How do you define masterpiece?
Simi Teds: Every collection I put out is a masterpiece. *grins*
VUN: How has your academic background helped your brand?
Simi Teds: Well, I think that should be a question of how I was able to manage to study Law in the university and run a fashion brand. However, I think there’s this prestige that comes with being a lawyer and a tailor. So, clients and prospective clients get to understand and believe that I know what I’m doing.
VUN: So, talk about joggling between studying law and running your brand in the university?
Simi Teds: Mehnnnn, I can say that was the most stressful 5 years of my life in a roll. But, I thank God I have no regrets. Basically, I’m glad I was able to understand early that it was necessary to always strike a balance and to get my priorities right.
VUN: Which part of design do you enjoy the most and why?
Simi Teds: Selecting fabrics and finishing because that’s really what makes the difference or what makes me unique.
VUN: Which designers or artist from past and present do you admire and why?
Simi Teds: The list might just be too long. I admire every creative designer at the top of their games, and always striving hard to create something different. They honestly, put me on my toes and make me want to do better.
VUN: What are your biggest challenges in running your brand and how do you cope with those?
Simi Teds: There are lots of them actually. But, I think the most pressing ones are: lack of constant electricity; price and affordability; and staying unique. However, the best way I have dealt with these challenges is to have accepted them; turned them into positive energy, and I have also stayed true to my craft and never compromised quality. So, those that value my craft keep coming one way or the other.
VUN: How do you market your brand?
Simi Teds: Social media in most cases, but, I get more clients from referrals.
VUN: Describe the Teds Bespoke man.
Simi Teds: The Teds Bespoke Man is a classic, stylish, and sophisticated, yet simple man.
VUN: Who would you like to see in your design?
Simi Teds: CR7, Christiano Ronaldo. I’m also looking forward to a partnership with the CR7 brand.
VUN: What’s your view of the Nigeria fashion industry?
Simi Teds: I think it’s one of our fastest growing industries with the advent of a lot of creative fashion designers. It’s no longer the regular narrative of the typical Nigerian “tailor” as we now celebrate tailors and fashion designers with events like GTBank Fashion Week, Lagos State Fashion and Designs week, and many more. However, I think there’s always room for improvement. People need to patronize indigenous brands more.
VUN: Talking about indigenous brands. How have Nigerians view of the Made in Nigeria brands affected your brand?
Simi Teds: Well, a lot of Nigerians still believe that Made in Nigeria products are not good enough. So, sometimes, I still need to persuade and encourage prospective clients to give Made in Nigeria products a shot. In my own case, I simply encourage them to go Bespoke.
VUN: What have you learnt from running your brand that you wish you knew when you started?
Simi Teds: Sometimes, I wish I started earlier. I also wish I started focusing on particularly themed collections earlier, so my brand could have been known for what it is now in the early stages of my career.
VUN: Let’s talk about your recent collection, Sunset in Moscow. What’s the idea behind the collection?
Simi Teds: Sunset in Moscow is a collection of classic business suits that match the taste of any business-oriented environment or city. The theme, “Sunset in Moscow” was as a result of the location of the shoot (Moscow City); and also to signify business, because, that’s pretty much what comes to mind when one thinks about Moscow. Lastly, the collection was made so as to create a fusion of western and African culture.
VUN: Why Moscow, there is Lagos and other western business cities that could have been used?
Simi Teds: I think that’s where the fusion comes in. Russians are used to wearing the regular plain suits, so my collection was basically to let them see a different aspect to business suits that portrays colour, style and class all at the same time. Besides, I was visiting some cities during the summer and Moscow happened to be one of them. So, I simply thought, why not?
VUN: What advice would you give to other designers?
Simi Teds: Stay true to your craft and strive towards perfection. Let every piece you put out be about achieving excellence and not about the monetary value you stand to gain.
On Sunset in Moscow, Simi Teds worked with the following models: Taye Fasuyi, Kazeem Asiyanbi, Michael Akins, Alexander Zazarov, Sergey Zolotarev, Takhir Solugub and Violetta Bouwer.