Wonderland gets to know the wonderfully weird design duo behind Typical Freaks a little bit better.
Designers Seun Ade-Onojobi and Sonia Xio are the perfect amount of weird. Channeling their own brands of freakiness, the up and coming design duo have created a ridiculously fun and quirky womenswear label, Typical Freaks. The duo draws off each other’s strengths, mixing together to create thoroughly wearable yet completely artistic collections. Ever dreamt of seashell encrusted platforms? Well now you have them.
Seun is a Central Saint Martins MA Fashion Graduate that specialised in print and textiles and previously studied his BA in Fashion Illustration at the London College of Fashion. It was there that he met Sonia, a kindred ‘freak’ who was studying womenswear. Despite only launching their label in the spring, they presented SS16 as part of Fashion Scout’s ‘Ones to Watch’ catwalk show. The collection featured hand painted fish, woven knits and was inspired by the colourful British seaside. Wonderland met with Seun and Sonia, who we reckon might just be in fashion because they are – self confessed – too freaky for anything else. Let’s go to the beach!
Where are you both from?
Sonia: North-West London
Seun: I was born in Nigeria, but have lived in Notting Hill since I was a child.
Can you both tell us what led to you studying fashion?
Sonia: Its the only thing I am good at, and I’ve always wanted to do it since I was a child.
Seun: I have always enjoyed all aspects of art and design, but fashion really interested me because I can put these different elements into one outcome, which people will hopefully choose to wear. In general life I feel quite disconnected from most people, but fashion is a good way to connect with them.
You met at the London College of Fashion. What was your first impression of each other?
Sonia: Quiet and weird.
Seun: I thought the her style was fairly nondescript (that has since changed), but her confidence and friendliness shone through
What were you both doing before the debut of Typical Freaks last spring?
Sonia: We were doing some streetwear fashion and I was trying to be a language teacher.
Seun: I was teaching art and design, working on my own personal, post-MA collection and working on our diffusion line and jewellery.
What made you decide to launch Typical Freaks?
Sonia: I’m not normal enough to be employed by other people.
Seun: The job market was very difficult after MA, and I was quite mentally drained afterwards. I had no confidence in working creatively – especially on my own work. Working together seemed more appropriate.
Why that name?
Sonia: No one can say our real names! When we used to look more eccentric in our youth, we were treated as freaks and felt like using that name in a positive way – being different should be celebrated.
Do you design for yourselves, or who are you designing for?
Sonia: Yes, for me and people like me. If I wouldn’t wear it, no one should have to wear it.
Seun: Not necessarily for myself, because its womenswear. But I certainly have the image and personality in mind. Most of the people I know in my life have spoken to me because of my clothes. I always felt clothing represented a personality which was more hidden within myself, so hopefully our clothing can be quite empowering to people.
We saw your SS16 collection on Fashion Scout’s “Ones to Watch” runway. It was packed with fish references and we loved the seaside aesthetic! Can you tell us more about what inspired your collection?
Seun: We were inspired by childhood holidays to British seasides. We wanted to use stereotypical themes of Summer, like beaches and subvert them. The buckets came from old photos of my family by the beach in Nigeria. Men would cover themselves in lots of straw baskets and sell them. I thought it would be interesting to play on the cultural appropriation topic that is quite prevalent at the moment. The prints themselves were influenced by some of my MA work where I used paper stencils quite extensively. On our first collection a lot of people described our work as quite artistic, so we built on that too.
The film ‘Jubilee’ was a big influence and we used that for the punk details, make up, styling and even our show soundtrack.
The textiles in the collection were amazing! Can you tell us about any textile challenges you overcame in this collection?
Seun: Printing lots of textural paints on fabrics and still keeping them light and billowy was difficult. Its always a challenge doing a lot of printing and dyeing fabrics with really bad eczema. We had to try and finish the collection before my hands completely fell apart.
You hand paint your garments. What artists continually inspire your work?
For this collection certainly Matisse. Usually a lot of pop art, Auerbach and Giacometti.
How is work divided between the both of you? Do you play off each other’s strengths?
Seun: We certainly utilise each other’s strengths. I enjoy working more conceptually, researching and coming up with themes for the collection. My education is more print based so I will usually work more on that side, while Sonia is good at pattern cutting and adding a more accessible touch to the collection when my ideas are a bit too challenging.
Let’s see how well you know each other. Seun, what is one secret talent Sonia has that no one else would know about?
Suen: Being the center of attention
Sonia, what is one secret talent Seun has that no one else would know about?
Sonia: Unlimited, useless, general knowledge of facts
How has showcasing your collections at LFW with Fashion Scout affected your brand?
Suen: It has given us greater exposure and allowed us to be more free and technical with our work.
What aspirations do you have for the future of Typical Freaks?
Sonia: We want to keep improving and make our work better. Hopefully we can do some more collaborations with other creative people.
WORDS: Janine Leah Bartels