Hey Royaltees! Have you ever wondered just how the Royal Dynamite team comes up with the fly collections and designs that keep you looking royally fit? With the new Ankara Tees Collection hitting the RD shelves soon, we wanted to give you an insider look at just what this powerful collection is all about! Check out this exclusive interview with Cecil Valentine, co-founder of Royal Dynamite for a firsthand look at the Ankara Collection!
The Ankara Inspired T-Shirt Collection is a fun and unique detour from the usual RD gear on the shelves. What is the inspiration behind the collection?
Cecil: The inspiration for the Ankara tees started back in early 2012 after having a few conversations with a friend who owns an Ankara inspired clothing line called Kenema (http://www.kenemaco.com/) in England. We were discussing the idea of doing collaboration with some of her pieces that would appeal more to our demographic. That project however got pushed back and will debut Summer 2013. After those discussions and constantly seeing Ankara inspired pieces on blogs and Facebook, the itch never went away. I figured we could do something creative and different with it.
So I reached out to another friend in Los Angeles, Sarah, who is a stylist and designer for some help and inspiration with design concepts. We juggled some ideas and concepts and did some sourcing for fabric and the process began.
There are a lot of other designs and themes Royal Dynamite could have chose from, why experiment with the Ankara fabric?
Cecil: The fabric is a staple part of my African heritage and culture, so it’s only right we did something to incorporate it into our t-shirts. Ankara fabric has also become a fashion craze this season with a lot of the big brands such as Burberry, et al., jumping on and experimenting with it. As I mentioned earlier, Ankara fabric is part of our fashion DNA. I wanted Royal Dynamite to try it out and if our audience received it well, we would continue it as a staple part of our brand, which opens RD to a whole new demographic of fashion and t-shirt enthusiasts.
Given the historical significance of some of the Ankara designs and prints, is Royal Dynamite going to be using a particular design in this collection to make every shirt unique and one of a kind?
Cecil: Yes, we have made sure this collection is different from what’s out there. We did however incorporate a lot vibrant colors with the t-shirts and patterns on the fabric to go with the summer hue of “color blocking.” We also decided to use tri-blend quality t-shirts along with varying styles such as dolmans, scoop necks and v-necks.
With regards to designs, we embraced the true essence of summer utilizing fabric with butterflies, flowers, drums and hints of gold to align with the idea of royalty.
Recently, Ankara fabric use has come under scrutiny for overuse and lack of originality with use of the fabric. How does Royal Dynamite plan to differentiate itself and in turn, RD wearers, from every other designer with the Ankara fabric in their repertoire?
Cecil: The use of Ankara fabric has indeed come under a lot of scrutiny. Depending on what end of the spectrum you choose to be, it can be an opportunity or hindrance. Personally, I view it as a great opportunity; for those that can creatively utilize the power of marketing, their brands will flourish and they’ll get the credit they deserve. Like they say “no publicity is bad publicity.”
With regards to how we plan in differentiating ourselves we decided we wanted to keep it simple and practical. We are a t-shirt line so we had to blend the use of both; however, one thing that I noticed was lacking in most of these Ankara designed pieces were functional everyday clothing. We wanted something you could dress down, dress up or even wear to the grocery store without drawing too much attention but get noticed for wearing something different.
I also noticed that there was not a lot of t-shirts out there with functional pockets, especially ones women could actually utilize to store little accessories such as earrings, cell phone etc. So in deciding to create a line of t-shirts with pockets using the Ankara fabric, we tried to keep them as vibrant as possible with great color selections and styles.
What can Royal Dynamite fans expect from this collection and when will it be available for purchase?
Cecil: They can expect something exciting, fun and practical yet fashionable. There will be four-color variations and style for the women and one for the men. The women’s pockets will all be at the bottom corners of the t-shirts with different cut patterns to the pockets. There will be 2 pockets on each t-shirt for the women’s one for the men. The men’s will be a top right with a flap pocket big enough to store a pocket square or a small cell phone. The t-shirt will be available for purchase on [7/27/12] and will be available for sale on royaldynamite.com.
Thanks again to Cecil and Royal Dynamite for the exclusive look at the new Ankara Tee Collection! Don’t forget to mark your calendars on 7/27 to shop the new Ankara Tee Collection!
Creative Royal Lifestyler / Collaborative Writer / Columnist