Teni Adeola may be an up-and-coming designer but, you’ve definitely seen her shiny and sheer cropped ruffle top while scrolling on your Instagram feed. Since the launch of her company in 2016, Slashed by Tia has become a favorite amongst millennials and celebrities like SZA, Yung Miami, and HER have been spotted rocking one of her designs.
Adeola, who also goes by Tia, just graduated from Parsons School of Design this May but already has a brand that is destined to make an impactful mark in the fashion industry. Originally from Nigeria, raised in London, and now in New York, Tia went from selling clothes on Snapchat to seeing her designs on the hottest it girls. “Through my clothes and through everything I do, I try to play my part,” said Tia. And now, Slashed by Tia has expanded beyond a college dorm room but into a growing fashion label.
“Through my clothes and through everything I do, I try to play my part.”
On Tuesday evening, Tia hosted a preview of her new SS20 collection that featured 16 modern renaissance pieces in a New York City ballroom. ESSENCE got a chance to chat about her new collection, being raised in Nigeria, and what’s next for the college grad. Read below.
ESSENCE: What was the creative direction behind this collection?
Tia: I just went to Paris and I visited the Musée d’Orsay and luckily the director of the museum happened to be there, Laurence Des Cars. I was expressing my concerns about people of color being excluded from history when they were such a vital part. She heard me talking and she gave me this amazing book. It was a book with just everything I could dream. There were images of Josephine Baker and Alexander Dumas. My whole thing is rewriting history through fashion. So my brand has been the Renaissance for a while and I’ve sort of shifted into the French Revolution. I just want to keep throwing my people into history and rewriting it.
ESSENCE: How was transitioning from Africa to London to New York?
Tia: I moved here for college. My parents wanted me to stay in London and study law. I secretly applied to Parsons. I ended up getting a scholarship so they were like, “you’re an American citizen and you’re going to be paying close to nothing, so just go to the school.” That was how I got to New York. It’s New York City, so I just felt like I needed to do something. I started designing my clothes in my dorm room. Snapchat was popping at the time. I was selling my designs on Snapchat for $50.
ESSENCE: What was the process like going from selling clothes on Snapchat to now having such a popular brand?
Tia: Honestly, I don’t stop to think about it. I was raised around two parents that worked morning until night every day. So I’m a bit of a workaholic. I just get my emails, I respond, I do what I have to do. I don’t pause to think who it is. I don’t pause to think who’s wearing it. I just work, work, work. But, I will say that there have been occasions where stylists have been following up with me and they’re like, “No, we don’t want anything else. We want your clothes.” That is just really touching for me and really inspiring – it motivates me to keep going, keep getting better.
ESSENCE: You were raised by two traditional Nigerian parents, how have they been accepting of your fashion career?
Tia: My dad’s cool, he’s westernized so he gets it. But my mom, oh my God. I’m like, “Mom, if I wear my designs, I’m going to wear something underneath, so don’t worry about me.” This is just literally, fashion. She’s from Nigeria and she’s traditional. She doesn’t get it. But with time, I hope she will.
“At the end of the day, we’re young, we’re shifting things, so I just have to keep playing my part, have to keep doing what’s right.”
ESSENCE: Being a Nigerian-American, how does that feel to really expand in this fashion space?
Tia: Sometimes I’m just like, “Why am I here? Why don’t I just go move?” My parents and my sister wanted to make it to this show. Donald Trump isn’t giving anyone visas right now, so they couldn’t make it. It’s very difficult. I have some of my best friends who are African Americans, but they don’t come from Nigeria. They don’t have the option to go home. That really bothers me. At the end of the day, we’re young, we’re shifting things, so I just have to keep playing my part, I have to keep doing what’s right.
ESSENCE: What’s next for Slashed by Tia?
Tia: I just graduated from college so I’m moving house. Half of my new place is going to be my showroom. I’m setting it up really nicely. So, honestly, just taking my business to the next level and trying to improve because I’ve been running Slashed as one person. I’m just trying to improve everything from customer service to packaging. I’m a perfectionist, I want it to be perfect.
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