In conversation with the Transatlantic designer serving cheap thrills with sheer frills.
“This whole thing came about because I was self-conscious and trying to conceal a part of my body,” writes Teni Adeola (Tia) of creating the backless, bust concealing tops that first announced Slashed by Tia’s arrival. “The Slashed girl, for me today, would be a bold girl who loves herself and can’t be told otherwise,” she continues, recognising how the fashion label has since aligned itself. That RiRi hasn’t been photographed in the label yet is a genuine curiosity, although, Tia tells me over email, Bianca Jagger is the real dream: “I would make her a badass suit.”
Leaving Nigeria for London at 11, then later relocating to New York to enrol at Parsons, Tia’s is a trajectory unlike most that fill your favourite #WCW’s wardrobe. “I have a love/hate relationship with New York,” she says of her current address, “some days I literally want to pack up everything and leave and other days I feel like it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m definitely enjoying school, and I’ve never been able to say that about school in my life.”
Making its debut at Lagos Fashion Week on 30 October 2016 – an “amazing” experience that came about via a friend she made while interning – Slashed by Tia has since taken on a visible Insta residency, from which, to date at least, most of Slashed’s interest has stemmed. “It’s definitely a big part of Slashed by Tia,” the designer confirms, “I see it as a sort of forum where I dish out ideas (samples) and get feedback – good and bad appreciated – however I must say it’s a gift and a curse.” Overall, she reckons the platform has proved positive for the label.
A strong class of separates – think cropped shoulder-less tops and flared trousers of sheer fabrics, bright colours and faux snakeskin, smothered in ruffles and fully qualifying for dream-like status – the current collection finds its influence in the nobility of the renaissance (she studied History of Art in London), but it’s Tia’s mother that claims her primary point of inspiration.
“Coming from a country like mine,” she asserts, “women are expected to conform to certain ideals such as being a housewife or being taught that this is a women’s job and this is a man’s, it’s almost taboo to step out of what is expected of you. Yet, for as long as I can remember, my mum has worked in real estate and I’ve watched her tirelessly wake up every day and put her helmet on and go to sites surrounded by men, gracefully giving each person direction.” Even over the impersonal medium of email, it’s not difficult to get a sense of Tia’s own enthusiasm for work.
Patience, she informs me, is what a year in business has proved most mandatory in which to navigate the fashion industry (“people will waste your time and you’ll get a lot of ‘sorry that didn’t work out’”); it’s a quality that will, one imagines, only assist if hopes to crack couture are realised. “My ultimate goal,” she asserts.
“Let’s just say that everything I’m doing now – though I’m very passionate – is about simply getting my foot in and understanding who my target market is, what sits well and what doesn’t; I’m quite literally bursting with ideas that I can’t wait to execute. This really is only the beginning.” I have no doubt about it, frankly.
Taken from the A/W 17 Issue of Rollacoaster; out now and available to buy here.