Adeoti Salami, the founder of Nocturnal, a contemporary streetwear brand, sits down for an exclusive chat with Bside.
As the stigma around “non-professional” occupations in the country fades, Nigerian youth have more freedom to turn their passion for art into concrete, physical work. Asides from music, the fashion industry has been the biggest beneficiary of this creative freedom, seeing a massive influx of creatives into the field. In turn, streetwear and street style has also grown exponentially. Although there has always been interest in streetwear in Nigeria, it has exploded into life recently. The internet has made it easier for designers to create and showcase their designs to a wider audience. What makes this even more impressive is that these designers and brands are led by young people who now have the means to sidestep the conventional fashion industry routes and connect directly with their target market.
One of such brands is Nocturnal, a Lagos-based t-shirt brand. Although they aren’t as established as their peers in the streetwear scene, their unique brand identity and designs focused on freedom and self-expression resonate with young people. B.Side Mag caught up with Adeoti Salami, chief architect at Nocturnal, to discuss the idea behind the brand and what he hopes to achieve.
Bside: Thank you so much for speaking to us. To start things off, what inspired Nocturnal?
Adeoti Salami: I don’t know if it was inspired by anything in particular. Since secondary school, I have been interested in streetwear and fashion influenced by hip hop, because I was, and still am, a huge hip-hop fan and it influenced my taste in clothes. In my second year at Uni, I had problems sleeping one night and it occurred to me that I was a night person - I get all my work done at night, and that was where the name “Nocturnal” came from.
What’s the creative process behind your designs?
It starts with words. Sometimes, I have a certain word lingering in my head, and there’s a picture that word puts in my head. And, when that happens, I jot it down and then try to design around it on Photoshop till I get the perfect representation of what I want - till that image I have in my head comes out.
There are a lot of clothing brands out there, what makes you stand out from the crowd?
I think the difference between Nocturnal and similar brands is the special meaning you can draw from the designs I make. There’s a message in everything I design - and for anyone who likes to have things deeper than the surface, then Nocturnal is the brand for you. It’s not the fabric, but the idea, the psychology of the brand. Nocturnal was birthed from an idea and that is what drives it and makes it special.
Do you hope to achieve something deeper with Nocturnal?
If I want to go deeper, I was thinking about how we do not have a lot of alternative sports in Nigeria. Like BMX, or skateboarding or stuff like that. That kind of stuff is really cool. So if I wanted to go deeper in terms of brand, it'll be to extend the brand, to try to encourage those alternative sports. That's the deeper thing that I'll like to achieve - trying to connect Nocturnal to sports. So it's like, you know, sports fashion.
Right now, I just want to try to grow a steady market. Right now, what I’m pursuing, or what I'll consider as success, is not the monetary value that I get from the sales of my shirts, it's more of the reach, I think. And how much people like the design. I think that's where the satisfaction comes from for me. It's not really the business. I mean, the business part is valid. But it's the sentimental value I get from seeing people like my brand.
What designers inspire you?
I see some designs and I like what they do. Like Supreme, or Bape. I think the designer for Bape is Nigo. So yeah, I think Nigo might be one designer that inspires me because I look at what they do with Bape and Human Made. And I'm like, "Wow, these guys are impressive". Their designs are so unpredictable. I can't tell what's coming next. It looks cool to me. I like it.
Fast fashion is the in-thing now, and fast fashion brands are built on imitation and basically reproducing other people’s designs. How do you deal with this in relation to brand sustainability?
Honestly, this is one of the things that scare me. You know, you make a design and someone tends to jump on it. What I usually try to do is, like I said before, with the designs that I make I try to put some meaning to it that you can tie back in some way to Nocturnal. That gives it some sort of identity, gives the design some sort of identity. Because of that, it'll be hard for fast fashion brands to jump and steal it.
What are your future plans for Nocturnal?
I hope to expand and grow Nocturnal into an actual fashion establishment, to take it beyond just Tees. So like other proper apparel like denim outfits, like proper stylish designer outfits. And like I said in the previous response, expand it to sports as well.
Feature Image Credit: Femi Johnson