I’ve always had a deep respect for those who are not afraid to be themselves. To be unapologetically true to oneself is both liberating and empowering, especially in a world that encourages uniformity and frowns upon individualism.
It’s just gone past noon, and I meet one such individual at one of my favorite watering holes overlooking the Thames in London Docklands. He cuts a casual chic figure in a black fur-collared pea coat, dark tailored trousers and his signature ODF clothing hoodie and baseball cap; a walking embodiment and ambassador of his brand, One Diverse Fashion (ODF).
Nicholas Amfo is disarmingly as warm and embracing as the fireplace we settle around, which strikes me almost as odd given that most fashion designers are typically aloof, reserved and guarded. We immediately delve into his brand’s story and its impressive evolution and growth over the years. A story that draws inspiration from the plush and leafy suburbs of Wimbledon, SW19, where the designer attended Wimbledon College, a stone's throw away from where he grew up in Mitcham, albeit world’s apart.
Nicholas reveals a transformative moment for him; one afternoon, while he was shopping in one of Wimbledon’s upscale boutiques, and was followed with suspicion and harassed by staff. Though an unfortunate moment, one that would break the spirit of most, it planted the seed that would one day blossom and become ODF, a brand that specializes in classic sport luxe pieces that equally pay homage to the timeless aesthetics of the Wimbledon tennis scene, and the cool, dynamic edge of London’s street fashion.
This harmonious relationship between street and suburban culture has long been an aspirational trend embraced by Black London youth culture; however, where ODF uniquely stands apart is in its ability to reach and unify all walks of life and demographics while embracing diversity and individualism. There is an unspoken understanding and bond that whether you dress up for a preppier look or down for an edgier appeal, you are allowed to just be, in ODF, which in itself is a powerful quality.
Headquartered in London, ODF also has a base in Amsterdam, a signal of its growing global appeal and the ambition of its designer and creative director to expand.
One thing I can say with certainty, is that in the current climate of athleisure increasingly being embraced as high fashion, and with ODF’s mantra of promoting diversity and inclusion, they are on the money as far as brand values and aesthetics in 2020 are concerned. To hone in on the point, they recently received a nod from GQ magazine as one of the “most wanted men’s clothing” brands in 2020, an accolade well earned and deserved.
We have high expectations of the brand, and after an inspiring conversation with Nicholas, it’s clear he has higher expectations of himself and his brand. We suspect a strong showing in 2021 for ODF if 2020 is anything to go by.
You can check out ODF clothing on www.odfclothing.com.
By: Raphael K. Dapaah