Designer Spotlight: Spencer Badu Has Perfected The Uniform

Spencer Badu

In 2015, while still in technical school at Olds College, a young Spencer Badu officially launched his eponymous brand. Behind the name was the notion of being fully authentic to who he was. While in school, he found himself limited concerning creating the pieces he felt called to make. Hence his desire to ideate his own brand began to grow. While it may sound selfish, we’re just as elated at this decision almost ten years later.

Badu’s unisex brand stems its designs from the experiences of a creative first-generation child–his family immigrated from Ghana to Canada. He keeps with him tokens from his and his parent’s lineage as inspirations for what he calls uniforms. To the designer, uniform wear can serve as a message of assimilation that many immigrants feel is necessary to achieve success. Badu’s interpretations of this incorporate clean lines through his technical training. The migration that his parents went through is also a source of inspiration for the designer. Pulling from his ancestry  in an authentic way is important to him, he’s adamant about staying in touch with his roots. Rather than using an African print on a piece, he’ll take a small element like a bold hue , a glass bead trim, or jewelry to channel his background.

“As we naturally want to fit in, we dress the way people dress within our society, but I do think there’s also a process within that where you’re shedding things. And within that assimilation, you’re also keeping things about yourself,” Badu said in a Zoom call. He mentions that when he first began leaning into his African roots he thought the only way to do so was to lean on the juxtaposition of North America in conjunction with Ghanaian culture.

How Spencer Badu Pulls From His Ghanaian Heritage
Spencer Badu

In a past collection beaded details that represented traditional African glass beads usually seen at weddings or royal occasions were seen on pieces. Sustainable vegetable dye was used on his most recent Collection 013 for the hoodies and sweaters. Instead of using a saturated red fabric, this dye detail relates to Badu’s ancestral home all while staying true to his brand’s colors and tones.

His most recent collection is available in person at the ESSX NYC concept store in New York City. Designs like a white knitwear zip-up jacket with a black Trompe l’oeil tie detail is Badu’s favorite piece he’s designed since launching his brand. Like many artists, Badu is a perfectionist and feels that any piece he designs can be improved, but this piece felt just right. It went into production after being designed four years ago during the pandemic. “I feel like there is a gut feeling that comes with making something. Usually, that can also just show up as goosebumps [for me],” he adds.

How Spencer Badu Pulls From His Ghanaian Heritage
Spencer Badu

Spencer Badu’s ethos lies in luxury as longevity. He says that he considers items with durability as luxurious rather than delicate pieces deemed as such. That furthers his core goal as a designer to grow the brand beyond garments and into a whole new realm of possibilities. After almost a decade after his brand launch, the future for Badu is taken one day at a time.

Expansion to furniture to possibly curating an art space is on the designer’s radar as he continues to build a world of his own. You can expect other like-minded, young creatives in his sphere as he designs for those who reflect himself and his friends who are first or second-generation utilizing their heritage in their authentic ways.

Shop Collection 013 on or in-person at ESSX NYC on 140 Essex St, New York, NY 10002. 

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