Slawn Explains Why His “Unexpected” Ksubi Collaboration Makes Total Sense

“You don’t naturally think Slawn and Ksubi… but here we are.”

Fashion 
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When you watch Olaolu Slawn‘s IG Stories, you get used to expecting the unexpected.

A Slawn x Ksubi collaboration is, as Slawn himself tells Hypebeast, “unexpected”. But the surprise and spontaneity of the partnership between the artist and Australian brand channels everything both parties have stood for in recent years.

Ever since moving to London back in 2017, the Nigerian artist’s creativity and chaos is best distilled on his socials, where he’s developed a bonafide cult following in recent years. Having built up his reputation as a rising talent, Slawn’s irrepressible energy has recently been applied to breaking into the art world, showing his work as part of Skepta’s ‘Contemporary Curated’ auction held at Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries, followed by his first (sold out) solo exhibition at Efie Gallery in October titled, ‘On A Darker Note.’

“Whatever I have around me or whatever I can reach with my hands is what I’ll use to create,” he told Hypebeast, for Issue 30. That creativity has manifested into his Motherlan collective, his signature graffitied portraits, his work with Off-White™, Awake NY and Supreme – and now, an out-of-the-blue collaboration with Australian brand, Ksubi.

Just like Slawn, Ksubi has built a reputation for its own distinct style, launching collaborations with Travis Scott and gaining a loyal fanbase which includes the likes of AJ Tracey and Jorja Smith through to Frank Ocean, Bella Hadid. Originally established as an artistic collective themselves, Ksubi is now aligning with one of the leaders of the current generation of creative talent coming out of the UK.

Aptly titled ‘FUCKSUBI,’ the collaboration marks Slawn’s first-ever fashion collaboration, with the 22-year-old channelling his irreverent self-expression onto staple Ksubi pieces. The collaboration will also feature 50 hand-painted and custom-designed denim pieces, created by Slawn in Ksubi’s signature Chitch and Anti K men’s denim styles. Despite Slawn himself liking the link-up because it was “unexpected”, celebrating the unconventional with a brand renowned for its DIY ethos actually makes a lot of sense.

Ahead of the collaboration going live to the public, Hypebeast caught up with Slawn to talk fatherhood, finding inspiration through his friends and the meaning behind “FUCKSUBI.”

The KSUBI x SLAWN collection will be available exclusively via a limited release at Ksubi’s Carnaby Street location at 10am BST on Saturday 12th November, ahead of the collection’s global release on KSUBI.COM on Tuesday 15th November 9am BST. Customers can secure the collection ahead of the release by signing up via the Ksubi website for 48-hour VIP access.

Hypebeast: How did this link up with Ksubi come about?

Slawn: The link came about from my friend Ella — but everyone knows Ksubi cos of all these rappers. They all talk about Ksubi. Travis rocked Ksubi. Rocky fucks with Ksubi. Yeat loves Ksubi. It’s a staple – staple brand, staple company. This link-up was to do with sensibilities. You know I’m not a very sensible person, but my work is these days. This collaboration, and the work that went into it, made sense.

Talk to us about the energy behind the collection…

The energy behind this is very DIY. It’s very natural, so the art ain’t really well printed like that, to be honest. It’s very scratchy, very… imperfect. It’s about improvisation and spontaneity.

How are you balancing life, art and being a dad these days?

My energy to everything I create these days is… if my son doesn’t like it, I’ll throw it away. He has the final say in everything I do these days. He’s incredible though. He’s so strong. He’s Superman.

“You know I’m not a very sensible person, but my work is these days. This collaboration, and the work that went into it, made sense.”

Your art has become incredibly collectable these days – and we know you’re a big collectable man yourself. What are some of your favourite things you’ve collected recently?

I never had toys growing up. So I just f*cking love collecting toys. I’ve got loads of Action Man right now. I just bought a 1966 Batmobile replica too. Warner Bros shit from way back then. This kid sold it to me off my Instagram story… and I don’t think he realised how much it’s worth. He sold it to me for £50 but it’s worth like a grand. I hit a lick with it.

Your friends have a lot of people who run their own clothing brands like Corteiz, Badfriend and Always Do What You Should Do… have they inspired you to work on your own imprint one day?

I don’t want to own a brand. I just want to have an avenue to create change, make stuff, and release it. I get inspired by my friends, though – Clint, for example, is very inspirational to me. He’s done what many aspire to do. Even if he owns a brand, and I’m an artist, I could draw a lot of inspiration from it. He’s also just a really good person.

“My energy to everything I create these days is… if my son doesn’t like it, I’ll throw it away. He has the final say in everything I do these days.”

We send stuff to each other on message, and I get signs off from them, like telling me shit is cool, but other than that, not really. We’re inspired by each other though. I just link up with them and think “you’re all sick.” Let’s do something crazy. I think we bounce off each other. So the fun never stops.

This capsule contains tees, hoodies and denim, with the superstore, getting a customs Slaw sculpture in it. What pieces did you have the most fun with?

Creating the jeans, because I get to do that myself. But the sculpture? That should be pretty fun. I’m looking forward to people seeing that. But jeans are probably the most fun thing.

“I say ‘FUCKSLAWN,’ not to be mean… like it’s f*ck Slawn because Slawn isn’t just one thing, it’s not me on my own just doing this. It’s a bunch of people. FUCKSUBI is the same mentality.”

Talk to us about your motto, ‘FUCKSLAWN’, which you’ve had up on billboards tees and now spun into this Fucksubi collaboration. Is that sort of that carefree self-expression, something you think has helped us attribute to your rise as an artist?

I think so. Yeah, saying “f*ck something” doesn’t mean fuck the embodiment of what it is. I said F*ck Slawn, not to be mean… like it’s f*ck Slawn because Slawn isn’t just one thing, it’s not me on my own just doing this. It’s a bunch of people. So ‘Fucksubi’ represents the same thing. It’s a bunch of people that push Ksubi because Ksubi isn’t just one thing. So the statement is more like, salute team over the individual, over the team, if you know what I mean.

“I like the collab because it was unexpected, it wasn’t something you would just imagine, or obvious. You don’t naturally think Slawn and Ksubi… but here we are.”

You thought you had synergy with Ksubi to be able to collaborate with them? 

Yeah, I think so. I think should be. Ksubi is known, it’s like an ‘if you know, you know’ type of brand. I like the collab because it was unexpected, it wasn’t something you would just imagine, or obvious. You don’t naturally think Slawn and Ksubi… but here we are.

You’ve had your work on clothes, buses, planes, walls, shops, and an auction house… where do you want your art to be seen and go next?

In space, or on a cornfield.

A cornfield?

Because I’m an alien. I’m out of this world.

Customers can secure the collection ahead of the release by 48 hours ahead of the release via thew Ksubi website.

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