This is an imperative I wholeheartedly agree with. For artists’, it takes an insurmountable level of courage and discipline to construct a path that veers from the trodden corporate roads. This week, I present an extraordinary young man who has managed to create his own lane.
Meet Timmy Alafe, the 25-year-old fashion designer behind the incredible emerging brand, No Sin Culture. Self-taught, he thrives on the creative aspects of his profession considering himself first and foremost an artist as he “always liked to draw”. From Zeus to Marilyn Monroe to Yxng Bane, his perspective blends mythology, history and current affairs when producing unique concept pieces. He seeks no approbation.
His foray into fashion begun at 11 with Diddy’s Sean John line. “I remember drawing at the back of class and putting my nickname where the label should be” he recalls. Alongside the Bad Boy mogul, he cites Louis Vitton’s artistic director, Virgil Abloh, british designer, Neil Barrett and Kanye West as his main influences today. From their keen eye for detail, to the methods adopted when presenting internal ideas to the masses, in these accomplished men, he shares a kinship.
Fashion is inner expression.
Fuelled by the belief that “if you put your creativity on paper and visualise it into real life you can achieve”, the seeds for No Sin were firmly planted whilst studying Computer Animation and Visualisation at Liverpool John Moore’s. With raucous vigour, he recollects the process of transferring a few sketched ideas into Photoshop and rushing to the nearest print-maker to get four T-shirts to gauge the end product. Happy with the result and giving samples to a few close friends, it was at this point the brand generated its first sale as one of the pieces sold. Asked how that moment felt, he replied: “It was amazing. It’s one of the best feelings knowing that what you’ve done someone sees enough value in it to purchase it”. This was the start.
Although the label specialises in printed T-shirts and hats (denim/suede), tracksuits are not far behind. Being an extension of himself, the brand has overt masculine overtones, though he affirms “it’s for everyone”. (He’s been catching heat from his female supporters). By managing his own socials, he ensures he is always accessible to consumers in need of a particular style, size or design for a bespoke item. To date, he regards starting No Sin as his biggest achievement. With avidity he proclaims “the realisation that you know what, I can actually do this” was the catalyst.
And I commend him.
He had a vision, he had a plan, and by sticking to the dreams of innocence, he made art his reality. Acknowledging that “everything we see used to be an idea in someone’s head” granted him confidence to construct his own ideals. There is a raw, unfiltered pride that comes to the fore when he describes the elation of having his concepts come to life and people say “bro that’s sick”. I see what this means to him. As per the brand’s motto, by acknowledging and thus mastering our sins, we are capable of reaching the zen of self-awareness. We ‘Break Bad Habits’. No Sin is a lifestyle.
It’s always important to have someone support you and want to see you achieve.
Hailing from a traditional Nigerian background, he is happiest when surrounded by family and friends who provide the roots of his support. (Side note: I’ve known him for over a year now, so the fact he has branched off into fashion speaks volumes). I’m sure he was meant to be an Accountant, Lawyer or Doctor . “I tend be selective about the opinions and advice I take. If you listen to anyone and everyone, you will miss your path”. Fashion was of his own volition – and he has stayed true. “What’s important is that the people around you understand, to some extent”. The source of his strength stems from unwavering faith and being humble enough to listen to advice as he understands he is continually learning.
Beginning each day at 4am, (dedication knows no time) grants him a couple hours to work on No Sin before the corporate world beckons. (A man needs a wage until he writes his own payslips). “People know not to call me after 10pm” he sniggers. He’s not lying. Realising I needed more information, I called him a few days later around 10:30pm. He didn’t respond until 8am the next morning. “Goals and routine” he states are the fundamentals for success. But even with a rigid structure, he finds the balance between fashion and his personal life to be a continual struggle. “Balance is an interesting word” he muses. “What’s enough of one and enough of the other? – If you really love something, you can find yourself spending 8 hours a day on it”. Balance is determined by he who holds the scale.
When he affirmed he was his biggest critic, I wasn’t surprised. Rooted within his “single-mindedness” is an incessant need to keep going. “Sometimes I wanna sleep, but I have a vision. I need to get up and do stuff”. In reference to his support unit, regarding advice, he believes “whatever anyone tells you, you will already know for the most part” so instead one should ask themselves: “how can I improve”? This hunger to succeed shall propel him until he is quenched. But with a man like Timmy, there is a limitless thirst.
And I applaud him.
It’s passion and drive that makes someone successful.
Success is measured by the satisfaction he has the ability to do what he was born to. Considering the most exhilarating aspects of fashion to be the ‘unexpected’, he thrives on consumer reactions to new material. The mixture of “fear and excitement” is a byproduct of recognising “what you do, makes an impact on someone else”. The challenge now is growth. Within five years, the goal is for No Sin to have nationwide renown (at least), and to have at least one store. By learning from those that have come before and cultivating his own peace in the void of noise, we end with this:
“As long as your work speaks for itself and you have the right medium to express it, you’re fine”.
For this, I respect him.