NN: I have to be honest, at first when I looked at the t’s I didn’t totally get it at ALL! Please tell us who you are, where your based and what is THE ORIGINAL DAVID?
OD: I’m Rakiyt Zakari, based out of the Washington DC metro area. I originally hail from Norfolk VA. I’m Nigerian, though I’ve never lived there it’s a big part of my life. I began designing in 2001, a self named higher end women’s wear line that was featured a few times in WWD, Lucky mag, the Washington Post, Essence and a few others. I used to show in Miami, at Funkshion: Miami’s fashion week.
The Original David is a line I stared while trying to figure out what to do with 144 white tees that I’d ordered for an event that never happened. I’m a pretty sarcastic person and political correctness is not my forte’, i just don’t think it’s that serious. It seems presently that people are so caught up in race and cultural differences that we can’t be ourselves without being scared to offend. Kids though aren’t like that. So I decided to create characters that played upon certain physical, and cultural stereotypes. All of these characters are Davids. They maybe different in many ways but when it’s all said and done they (we) are basically the same.
NN: How do you produce THE ORIGINAL DAVID products and do you make limited quantities of each design?
OD:I make each Original David shirt by hand, cutting out each piece and sewing it together. The shirts are cotton the characters are felt. The tags are made from leather that I brand with the logo. The quantities are limited, though each shirt is made to order. We don’t keep stock, it’s Fresh with no expiration date :o)
NN: For your spring 08 collection you chose to take it back to 1985 and RUN DMC! How did you come up with this concept and why the 80’s?
OD: I’m an eighties baby. Run DMC is iconic, like Disney. Hip Hop is at the forefront of controversy…”is it dead,” “is it too commercial,” etc. I wanted to honor the originators without just copying an era. I was really on the fence about doing it because it seems like the 80’s comeback is viral right now. I didn’t want to lose what David was about by being too trendy. The first shirt was Olu 85 : black with the double red stripes. Once I finished that one It was history, I loved it, and I decided to go forward with the line.
NN: You recently showed at United Trade Show(congrats)! Can you explain to us what it takes for a brand to be on the trade show level and was it a success for you?
OD:Thanks a lot! I love United, it’s been a great experience for me. I can honestly say that doing it took my brand to a new level. To get to the trade show level you have to make sure your brand is tight. It should look professional, stand out and really communicate a perspective. Buyers don’t like trying to figure out what you’re all about. They are visual ppl and if you don’t capture them at first glance, you may not get the opportunity to do so again. It’s good to have realistic expectations. Orders may or may not come during the show, sometimes buyers need time to think about your brand and how it would fit on their floor. Trade shows are expensive, and designers need to be sure that it makes profitable sense to invest in a show. Trade shows are one of the best ways to connect with the industry insiders and keep a pulse on what’s going on.
NN: Do you classify yourself as a street wear brand and if so do you think you have what it takes to be SUCCESSFUL in this ridiculously competitive industry and why?
OD:I think The Original David is a fusion of high end fashion and street wear, it’s a little more mature aesthetically than the loads of printed tee brands popping up. The focus is different as is our customer. My guys that buy are urban professionals between 25-33. I think I have what it takes to be successful, because of The Original David translates well into other product categories outside of Apparel, so the potential for growth is huge.
NN: Since your based in D.C. or the DMV for those of you who know whats really good :), can you put us on to some other local independent designers/artists that are fresh like you :)?
OD: I would love too if I could think of any. It’s really hard to find cool designers operating out of DC. The scene here doesn’t lend itself to putting local talent on the radar. The ones I used to know, don’t do it anymore.
NN: What are 3 of your long-term goals for THE ORIGINAL DAVID?
OD: -The Original David brick and mortar. A physical store would help solidify the message of the brand.
-Expansion outside of apparel into books, art, and cinema.
-I would like to create a non profit branch of the company.