I’m always hunting for up and coming fashion brands and when I stumbled across Tribal Gem, I found one of those rare brands that when I look at the pieces, an outfit immediately comes to mind. I am currently in love with the blazers from Tribal Gem (I literally dream about them, and I’m not ashamed to say it) and can’t wait to get my hands on one of them. I managed to catch up with the busy pair of fashionista’s who are behind the brand and asked them a few probing questions.
Bio: Abiola Gbaja is the Co-Director of Tribal Gem. She is also a Sociology and Criminology Student in final year at City University. She is 22 years old.
Bio: Lulu Awori is the other Co-Director of Tribal gem. She is a 20-year old final year student studying Business Marketing at the University of Sussex.
What is Tribal Gem all about and when did you start it up?
Abiola: Tribal Gem is the name of our fashion label. It is about the modern day woman from every background still being able to rock her African clothes but with a modern day twinge to it. Tribal Gem was started in September 2011. We aim to bring the UK/African of our heritage to the clothing we bring at affordable prices. Tribal Gem derived from the fact that our clothing is African based and each piece is unique and no two are the same, hence they are gems.
Lulu: It essentially started up also, by our joint realisation that the beauty of African fabric shouldn’t be sidelined to an infrequent trend. It can, and should, have the power to be a constant in anyone’s wardrobe!
What inspired you to start up Tribal Gem and what’s behind the name (which I love by the way!)?
Abiola: The inspiration behind Tribal Gem is all about being who I am. I am of dual nationality. I was born here but raised in an African household. And I have usually had to choose which side I would like to rep but with Tribal Gem clothing, we make it easier buy fusing both heritages into the clothing. So you get the African print in modern day styles.
Lulu: Being women is our inspiration. Abi and I, like countless other women, are of African descent who have grown up in and live in Britain but despite those similarities we are still very different from one another. We are all gems and so each piece of our clothing is intended to reflect the individual beauty of each woman.
Some of your designs are structured e.g. the blazers and some are much suitable for much more informal situations, what’s the inspiration behind the pieces?
Abiola: The inspiration is that everybody is different and we are trying to cater for everybody. White, black, African, carribean, Tribal Gem should appeal to everybody. The blazers are very easy to incorporate into your current wardrobe. A blazer on black jeans and a tank top and you are most definitely show stopping. Everyday is a fashion show. The pavements are runways!
I love that mantra! Who are your designs for? Who is your target market?
Abiola: They are aimed at everyone, however I think they appeal more to women who enjoy standing out. In any Tribal Gem piece, very rarely will you blend in, its all about standing out and shining brightly.
Lulu: The inspiration is that everybody is different and that despite the inspiration stemming from our African roots, whatever your background Tribal Gem is for you. Because you are a woman, and your inner beauty is already glowing you deserve to shine bright on the outside when you step out in your outfit from Tribal Gem.
What’s your favourite piece in your ASOS collection and how would you wear it?
Abiola: Ooooh I love them all (she laughs). I would have to go with Crystal Maze Blazer. I would wear it with black or denim jeans and a white or black tank top. Those shoulders stand out enough.
Lulu: Like Abs, I find it a bit hard to say we’ve got so attached to each piece… I do have a big soft spot for the Skystone Jumpsuit though; the pattern literally makes my heart smile! I’d wear it with killer heels, electric berry pink, to play off the softer pinks in the pattern of the Ankara.
What is your advice to up and coming designers?
Abiola: I would say, believe everything is possible. The world is made up of so many different people so don’t think people won’t like what you’ve got. There are people everywhere that like things that not everybody will. Don’t underestimate yourself.
Lulu: Persistence is key – motivate yourself to keep moving your collection forward even if it feels like the odds are against you!
What’s next for Tribal Gem?
Abiola: That would be telling. You have to keep your eyes peeled and watch this space.
Anyone who would like to keep updated with our brand can find us on Twiiter & Instagram @TribalGem, www.facebook.com/TribalGem, Tumblr: www.tribalgem.tumblr.com, Blogspot: www.tribalgem.blogspot.com and the link to purchase our ASOS collection is marketplace.asos.com/seller/tribalgem/collection
I’m expecting very big things from these ladies, so keep your eye on them fashionistas!