I recently had the pleasure of shooting the October Zone Street Wear Fashion Show that was held in Baltimore, Maryland. Hosted by Toyin LaTour and planned by the talented duo, Ashton and his sister Ashley Akinrimisi, the event succeeded in appreciating and showcasing the talented DMV designers and artists. Alongside Toyin LaTour, there was Liv Luv Culture, Rizon Esthestics, and Original Crackage that was accompanied by performers, Ziggy, Mannywellz, and Gsuave. Surrounded by so many local talents, I could not help but be in awe at how all of these young creatives came together to support one another and their passions. It was very interesting to see each designer’s line being walked down the runway. Along with the pop-up shops, there was a DJ, VIP Toyin LaTour gift bags, and beverages and snacks. I was beyond amazed by the professionalism and enthusiasm that the place exuded.
I was able to talk to the owner of Toyin LaTour, Lara Odupitan and ask her a few questions:
Hi Lara, thank you for speaking with me today. To get started, tell me a bit about how you got started with Toyin LaTour?
“I started Toyin LaTour when I was in the Air Force living in the barracks. I pretty much started my Air Force career working nights, so during the day when all my friends were at work I’d be bored out of my mind. I took up a lot of hobbies from painting to photography, but after awhile I realized I wasn’t passionate about any of those things, so one day I decided to buy a sewing machine. Once I figured out how to put it together everything else fell into place so naturally. I already had a book of sketches because I had been designing clothes for a long time, I just always thought bringing them to life would be too hard. It turns out I was wrong. The night I put my sewing machine together, I made 3 whole outfits. From that day forward, my life has changed.”
How would you describe your brand’s style?
“Toyin LaTour is not only streetwear, it’s high fashion. It’s meant to reach people's inner creativity through the expression of design and fashion. A lot of streetwear brands design with screen print and patches. I plan to change the game with cut and sew.”
How does it feel to see your pieces being worn down a runway like The October Zone Street Wear Fashion Show?
“It’s an amazing and overwhelming feeling of pride and gratitude. It’s one thing to see your designs come to life from paper sketches, but to see them on models and watching the audience sit in awe and applauding your work, is a feeling words can’t even describe.”
Where do you get your inspiration from?
“I’m very inspired by brands like H&M, Asid Luxury, and Mainly because they think out of the box. I aspire to their level of creativity.”
Do you have any advice for those who want to pursue in the fashion industry?
“DON’T WAIT! JUST GO FOR IT! People tell me all the time that they want to start their own clothing brand but they don’t think it’s the right time or they want to wait until their designs are good enough. But let me tell you something, as long as you are motivated and passionate, it will ALWAYS be the right time. As long as you stand behind your designs and take pride in your work, your designs will ALWAYS be good enough. You just have to be confident and you have to market your work correctly. I’ve seen new brands sell plain t-shirts with their logos for $50 a piece because they were confident in their brand, in their story, and they knew how to market. Unfortunately, I have also seen really dope brands struggle to sell products because they second-guessed themselves and their ability to please their target market. Items they should have been charging $60-90 for, they were struggling to get $30 for. You just have to stand behind what you have created and do the research on your target market and the best way to attract them.”
Any upcoming projects or exciting news that you would like to tell us about? And, where can people find out more about you and your brand?
“I am currently working towards either opening a pop up location or putting my store in the mall. I have great things planned for Toyin LaTour. I can’t for everyone to see what’s to come. As of right now, you can find updates about Toyin LaTour on YouTube and our official site ToyinLaTour.com. Although we do not have a blog just yet, it is something that is soon to come.”
I also had the chance to talk to the wonderful planners of the event, Ashton and Ashley, and ask them a few questions:
Was this your first time putting on an event?
Ashley: “No, this was not my brother and I's first time planning an event. We have planned many other events, like fashion shows, talents shows, and conferences.”
Can you briefly describe to me the process of putting the October Zone Street Wear Fashion Show together, from beginning to end? What roles did you each have to take on?
“My role in this show was being the Operations Manager. Basically my job was to put the show together and make sure it runs smoothly. My sister and I pretty much arranged and executed everything from decor, to food, to model castings, to designers, EVERY little detail *laughs*”
“As the planners and operational directors of the October zone fashion show, we were in charge of contacting models, designers, media, performers, makeup and hairstylists; as well as to find a venue, select food and refreshments. Basically, everything.”
It was very impressive to see how such young individuals were able to pull off an event that appreciated and showcased fashion, is this something that you both want to go in the direction of?
“I definitely love anything where I can be creative and see my vision come to life. I definitely want to stay in the field of fashion and creative directing, hopefully for some big fashion house or fashion publication. But right now I am in school for marketing at Howard University to learn the tools to launch my career and network!!”
“We both definitely want to go into this direction, it's always a great experience working in fashion. Though my end is more on the backstage preparation side (Hair and Makeup), I enjoy working on all ends of a production. I own a business in hair and makeup artistry called, "LolaLuxe" where I service customers in beauty and through this I get to network with fellow entrepreneurs”
What do you think was the most challenging part about running the October Zone Fashion Show?
“The most challenging part was having my hand in so many different parts of the show at once. Also modeling in the show while still fulfilling my duties as operations manager, making sure the show was running smooth and as planned. That was pretty tricky.”
“The most challenging part was definitely being involved with so many elements of the show, and still having to manage every element the day of the show.”
What is something that people should know about the culture and fashion of the DMV that they don’t know? What do people usually overlook when it comes to young talent and creative?
“Something that many people don't know is that there is a huge fashion scene in the DMV and it's also full of creatives. People tend to overlook the amount of talent that is bred here. It's also very hard as a young creator to get a chance to show your talent because of your age, or because people may not trust your ability to remain professional and execute. My plan is to change that perception.”
“The DMV is full of amazing artists and creatives that have so much to offer and that are truly ahead of their time. When we all come together and execute a vision, it is amazing. There is a huge fashion scene in the DMV, it's often overlooked because the DMV is still up and coming but in a few years I think we will be recognized. Our youth is so promising, everyone is about their craft and hustle.”
And last but not least, where can people stay updated with you guys and your work?
“All my social medias (twitter, insta, snap) is @Iconic_Ashton and my Tumblr is Iconic-Ashton.tumblr.com all business/modeling inquires can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org”
“My socials include Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter (IG: @___aaashley @lolaluxe_ , SC: ashkardashhhhh , Twitter: @_AskAshley.) I also have a website launching in a month, I will talk more about it on my socials. For business inquires, my email is email@example.com”