Abuja-based menswear brand Russell Solomon has unveiled a new collection for the new season tagged Afloat; an acronym for “African Force Lifting Off And Thriving”.
After securing a spot as one of the top 5 finalists for the 2018 Lagos Fashion Week Fashion (LFW) Focus Fund where he showcased his SS19 collection titled Code of Conduct, Creative Director, Gabriel Ugochukwu decided to go on a year-long hiatus in order to rediscover the brand’s purpose.
In a time where creatives have become so aware of their mental health, it’s no surprise that Gabriel identified the pressures and expectations and made an intentional move to take a break. According to him;
As a creative, there’s often a lot of pressure to perform, to create and to excite. After my showcase at Lagos Fashion Week 2018, it was clear to me that I needed to take time off to rediscover myself and the purpose for the brand.
In the statement following the release, the brand wrote:
In the course of his journey to self and purpose rediscovery, Gabriel went down memory lane where he was reminded of the dream, which was to build a timeless brand which creates functional and forward-looking pieces. In finding artistic stimulation, Gabriel channelled his inner zen and took new hobbies which helped him dedicate more time to self-care and as a result, he felt inspired to create a collection aimed at encouraging young creatives who are faced with such pressures.
Titled “AFLOAT 20-20” an acronym for “African Force Lifting Off And Thriving”, the 20-piece collection is more than just an aesthetically-pleasing assemblage – “This is a body of work that I hope will inspire and encourage young creatives like myself. With this collection, I’m sending out a message that says it’s okay to feel burnt out, to feel the pressure. The most important thing is that you don’t sink into the pressure, that you take time to discover or rediscover yourself and purpose.”
Beyond inspiration drawn from mental health challenges faced as a creative, the earth played a huge role in his latest assemblage as is core to the brand – previous collections such as Skin, You-Th & Code of Conduct are a testament to this. With each collection, consciousness to the role that fashion plays in building a sustainable environment is heightened, which is why Gabriel continues to opt for a sustainable approach to Russell Solomon’s mode of production.
“Sustainability is more than just a wave – it means being conscious and intentional as it relates to the earth and people in it. It is our responsibility to take positive steps in maintaining the earth and this includes our being conscious of our production process.”
Gabriel’s play on earthy tones such as greens, beige, and brown, can be interpreted quite literally with his choice of fabrics being organic cotton sourced from Ethiopia, linen, adire and denim, a reference to his stance on building Russell Solomon into a sustainable brand.
See the full lookbook below
Photography: Rukie Jumah
Photography assistant: Eddy Chris
Models: Ayo Fredrick, Ailrang Smart
Creative Direction/Styling: Gabriel Ugochukwu Solomon
Set Assistant: Kojo Gyekye