Although it sounds a bit cliche, it’s really no secret that life is really what we make it. In recent months, we’ve encountered a roller coaster of social, emotional and political turmoil that has overturned every way of life, leaving us scrambling for answers that in the long run have challenged and redefined the landscape of what humanity and empathy truly means. One thing that’s for sure: being prepared for change and accepting that change is our new normal can potentially save us from time spent on pondering the deeper meaning of life and its entities. That’s where Allen Aderotoye comes in –– the New York bred Nigerian-American designer and founder of òL New York that has repurposed his curiosity into creativity in acceptance of our new reality.
Aderotoye, who spent most of his time at the height of the quarantine and lock-down reflecting and recharging his social battery, was like a lot of other creatives searching for inspiration while stay-in-place policies were still in effect. What started as a short getaway turned into a new found lifestyle on the West Coast, ultimately ridding him of the pressures of having to be elsewhere and allowing him to create new experiences and stories to tell through design and artistry. “Accepting the reality that change is the only constant,” Aderotoye told ESSENCE while reflecting on his mental health and how he’s personally coping. To Allen, moving in the middle of a pandemic may have been a rash decision but one of the best decisions he’s ever made in the long-run. Now, in his location in Los Angeles, Aderotoye is dedicating his time to fully immersing himself in his brand, òL New York (Outside Lines) and evolving in his new perspective in a new city.
If you’re wondering just exactly how Aderotoye would describe his brand, it’s simple. “òL is more than just clothing you wear, it’s an entire vibration,” he says. “òL is something you experience. It’s a way to stand out, look good and feel amazing.” The brand’s recent success amounts to more than just what’s seen on the internet and social media, but rather grassroots and community-based marketing. This brings everything full circle for Aderotoye, like when he saw his brand worn by Nigerian star, Wiz Kid during a meet and greet at a recent tour stop in Maryland. According to the founder, òL wouldn’t exist without a sense of community behind it, which in his opinion breeds creativity in all of us. Since its conception in 2014, òL has managed to create a bi-costal lane for itself, proving that its brand story is deeper than just clothing, it’s bringing art to life in all other realms.
On The Conception of òL New York
“òL pulls inspiration from my youth and my interests. Companies like Stussy & Supreme rooted their offering in being more than just a brand. They are a lifestyle, a culture, a perspective and a reservation of time. This concept is similar to that of òL, which is overall an energy that must be experienced through the culture; we are creating a space for the creatives by the creative, creating for the high tone artist and art lovers alike. òL was started in NYC and that has allowed us to align with many creative mediums: fine art, music, film, and philanthropy.”
On Incorporating Culture Into The Fashion Diaspora
“Being a Nigerian-American is a part of my identity that is present in so many of òL’s pieces. It’s visible through our designs, fabrications, culture, and some of our products are even being produced in Nigeria. I use my diaspora to create a unique outlook and perspective, which entails the company as a whole.”
On Pioneering Change In The Industry
“The biggest change that I would make is the overall treatment of young designers. Anyone brave enough to enter this industry should be taken more seriously. Of course, there are several barriers to entry, however when a perspective is cultivated with or without technical training, it would be amazing to have support in place from the production and collaboration standpoint to have it further realized. This will help us further innovate as an industry and make new design more accessible.”
On The Creative Process Behind Designing for òL New York
“I create space for the ideas to find their way to me. Today I conceived a few accessories that I’m excited to produce. Tomorrow it can be completely different. My days vary significantly especially with the amount of creativity I can have in a day. The variety which can pose difficulty in business also brings out different ideas and heightens my intuition on where I should take things next. I make space in my days to create, but it’s not something I force. In a weekly design session, I’ll work with my team to analyze our product offering and how we can improve it.”
On His Personal Style and His Favorite Recent Splurge
“One word; intentional. When getting dressed, It starts with where I’m planning to go. Is it day time or night time? Is it cold or is it hot? This is all taken into account, then I consider, am I going to dinner or am I running to the store? There’s so many variables, but I’ll proceed with underwear and let it flow from there. If I have something new to test out, that’ll be what I grab first then I style it to fit the setting I’m heading to.I’ve curved my appetite for sometime at this point, so I’m actually looking for something to splurge on. Thinking about it, I will probably buy a piece of art – something that I can put on the stairway or in the foyer to keep me inspired. However, I have been splurging on new concepts – looking for more ways to further communicate through our offerings at òL. I am now developing some homegoods ideas.
On His Favorite Item From òL New York
“My current favorite is the CrZy Bucket Hat. It’s my first bucket hat, but not my first hat design. It’s a part of the CrZy family, a collection of pieces that we created in unique colored knits with a distinct vibe. Those that understand it, love it, and I really do appreciate that. I actually was initially interested in creating a beanie months ago, but it didn’t work out as expected. After sitting on the idea for a bit, I was then able to adopt the creative for the beanie into a bucket and it worked. I shared it with my audience, it was incredibly well received and an instant classic. As a designer, it was an amazing feeling to see the community immediately gravitate to this piece.”
On Manifestation for the Future of òL New York
“Pure abundance, continual growth, and infinite intelligence. There’s a lot in store for Outside Lines.”