Irrelevant of the profession one chooses for their life, know your worth. Irrelevant of the people one decides to be in their life, know your worth. And most importantly, irrelevant of the parameters one determines to place on their life, know your worth. In a time where anything and anyone can be easily replaceable, it is easy to mistake quantity for quality. We have reached the zenith of consumerism. That being said, there are those who have an unwavering predisposition to remain true to self, only engaging in unions that are to the betterment of self and spirit. This week, I introduce a man genuine of heart who has always kept one notion at the fore: “know your worth”.
Stylising himself as a “creative doctor”, Osvaldo Santos Araujo Borges, the creative director behind Di Santi has curated a path he believes to have been prescribed since birth. Though the idea and official registration of the company was done “a while ago”, it wasn’t until this year the ‘Doctor’ officially opened surgery. “This was the year where I thought, this is the start ‘n’ there’s no goin’ back”, he begins. “This is the brand image – this is what we’re gonna go for ‘n’ that’s the direction of the brand”. When asked the process behind choosing a worthwhile name representative of himself and his brand he responds with fervour. “Di Santi means ‘Of Saints’ in Italian. The term studio symbolises your world. So Di Santi Studio is a place where you can take control of everythin’. It’s like a force – somethin’ that gives you confidence, self love ‘n’ value. It’s kind of like my name – At the time, I was inspired by Italian culture. I wanted somethin’ that sounds luxury – I wanted somethin’ that’s gonna be remembered for a long time”.
Although he currently studies Fashion Promotion, (which he shall switch to Fashion Art Direction in Autumn) at Manchester Metropolitan University, he insists his love for fashion stems from his formative years in his native Portugal. “I’ve been introduced to fashion from a young age”, he asserts. “Growin’ up I always had people around me that dressed nice that I looked up to. Once you’re into it so much, you learn more about it. I kinda just learned from the people around me”. As with any venture, it is important for one to understand their strengths and areas for improvement. Where the Doctor “brings the ideas in and designs the pieces”, it’s his close friend, Nye McKenzie who actualises the concepts. “He helps me out. I’m not that good at putting pieces together – he helps turns my ideas into reality”. And I respect that. For one to prosper, you must be willing to effectively communicate in order to delegate.
I use fashion as a way to speak to people.
As a self-aware man, he is meticulous when presenting himself to the world. Admitting is personal style not only hails from the aforementioned influences growing up, he also confesses it is a fusion. “I’d definitely say it comes from the hip-hop culture with a little bit of rock – it’s hip hop ‘n’ rock collidin’ together”. And therein lies the beauty of not just fashion, but art on a whole. It’s engaging. It’s reciprocal. It should, in essence, spark a dialogue between creator, product and consumer. By “usin’ fashion as a way to speak to people”, by the time he hit college, the Doctor had patients in need of a remedy they couldn’t get over the counter. By usin’ fashion as a way to speak to people, by this time, he knew fashion was his avenue.
“By about 16/17, I built a reputation for myself by dressin’ nice”, he remembers. “A lot of people would compliment how I dressed. The pieces that I’d wear would be my own pieces. Some were askin’ for samples – I gave them out ‘n’ it went from there. I was makin’ a little bit of money so I thought I might as well turn it into a proper business ‘n’ take it serious”. That was the turnin’ point. As a Creative, the artistry comes first. From idea, to plan, to execution, it’s a dope feeling when you finally have that tangible piece in front of you that grew from the seed of an idea. But when your product gets recognised, or even better, you make that first sale, it’s incredible. Someone has deemed your creation worthy of a price. From the process, you internalise within the cocoon to dissect your motivation and aspirations. “Designin’ is the best part as I’m learnin’ about myself – I connect with my design. I feel like my designs are influenced by what I go through ‘n’ bein’ aware of where I come from, I put that in my designs”.
Using fashion to spark dialogue has afforded him collaborations and meetings with noteworthy individuals. Public figures such as Tristan Jones has worn Di Santi merchandise, whereas fellow Creatives such as Maniere Devoir’s Reece Wabara and Ev Bravado have been engaged with along his journey thus far. At the point of writing this feature, numerous opportunities have materialised, but, never announce until the ink is dry. Regarding what’s already percolating in the ether, his biggest achievement to date has been designin’ customs for E.R’s own, C Biz. “I went to a Jay Critch show in London – Gene The Artist came up to me ‘n’ said he liked my jewelry ‘n’ we spoke. I was wearin’ Di Santi jeans – he said bro your jeans are hard ‘n’ asked what I did. I told him I was a designer ‘n’ his style is how I want people to wear my jeans. He said we can work together. He didn’t tell me he knew C Biz. Because I liked his music ‘n’ the energies matched, I sent him the jeans, Biz seen it, told him they were hard ‘n’ that’s how me ‘n’ Biz met”.
It’s important to travel and experience new things.
Over the years, collections have dropped infrequently – but as he confidently asserts: “this is the best one I’m gonna work on”. Mainly compiled of jeans with elements of dye and Swarovski crystals, this project incorporates a deeper undertone. “The message varies on every collection”, he explains. “This collection is to block out every negativity that’s goin’ on in people’s lives. If I had to put a name on it, I’d say Michael the Archangel – he was the angel that casted the devil down to hell The idea is to block it out – cast it down. I wanted to use the business of fashion as a way to get a message out there”. And the best way to get your message out there? Enlist the right people to ensure the message reaches the desired target. “At the start before I started doin’ a collection, I was buyin’ jeans from random retail stores. I went around Manchester, London, New York lookin’ for the right suppliers. Thank God I found a supplier who I’ve built a good relationship with. Now we’re workin’ together supplyin’ jeans”. In short, trust the process.
For the Doctor, “inspiration comes from everythin'”. Though a typical day is balanced between Di Santi Studios, Uni and work, he’s always creating. “I’m always doin’ somethin’ to do with designin'”, he conveys. “It’s never out of my mind”. Whether it’s making custom jeans for his current clientele (don’t announce until the ink is dry remember), or working on the current collection, creation remains at the fore. Possessing an awareness of what’s around him is not to the detriment of his creativity. He doesn’t allow it to cloud his vision. His designs are all personal to him. “Whatever I’m feelin’ in that moment, that’s what I do. I’m havin’ fun with it – it’s just me bein’ me”. And I respect that. Yes, he cites Virgil Abloh and Mike Amiri in reverence, but this is a man forging his own destiny.
What I find most intriguing about him is the level of humanity he conveys. Again, he is self-aware, but it’s more than that. He exhibits an earnest disposition to not only embrace the world around him, but to learn from it. “It’s important to travel ‘n’ experience new things”, he believes. “When you go to a different country ‘n’ get influences from different things goin’ on around you, you come back different ‘n’ bring a unique product to the table”. In a city and a time where we have reached the zenith of consumerism, what makes you walk right into your lane instead of being left with the rest? My answer: embrace the world around you. “Bein’ open so your creativity is continually flowin’ ‘n’ bein’ renewed is important. You understand people’s views, cultures ‘n’ how they see things. The best way to do that is with an open mind. Be nice to people – treat everyone the same way you want to be treated”.
Don’t compare yourself to others – your time will come.
Keeping it 100 with people is important in order to excel in whatever field you are in. Relationships are necessary. They are essential to create – imperative to maintain. One must interact with others with the same respect you wish upon yourself. We are not so dissimilar. The flip side of that is, everyone is connected to some degree. A social interaction with the right person today, could mean a business opportunity tomorrow. “Be friendly to everyone”, he agrees. “If you’re nice to everyone, you can be a person away from someone who can change your life forever”, he acknowledges. Additionally, self-control (which stems from his self-awareness), is pivotal for success. “You gotta be disciplined so you’re not makin’ ego moves instead of business moves – don’t do things by emotions”. Some may agree, some may not – but I see the method. A calculated mind see s the sum of all components.
His career goals are exact. “LA, New York, Milan, Paris, Beijing. I wanna stay relevant so I can take it all over”. A bold affirmation – but why not? Only small finds find difficulty in fathoming big dreams. It comes down to how far you are willing to go and how much you are willing to work to achieve what you set out to accomplish. “I’m doing this all for my family – that’s the most important thing”. When you are genuine of heart in your desires and your methods, “don’t compare yourself to others, your time will come”. And I agree. In a time where anything and anyone can be easily replaceable, don’t watch that. Your time will come. Find your lane, focus on your strengths and build relationships. As the Doctor puts it: “Be nice to everyone – keep creating. Look to learn. As weird as it sounds, try to take as many L’s as possible from early. Never try to take short cuts and skip corners – you’ll just find yourself trapped. Take everyday step by step”.