House of Dz – Samuel Dz Olawuyi
House of Dz by Samuel Olawuyi celebrates simplicity through its designs by combining high-end fashion with real street wear.
The south London – based urban contemporary brand, which grew from selling ‘Snapback’ hats, was launched after Samuel was made redundant during his gap year from university.
His first unisex collection titled ‘Area Boys’, which featured during the 2015 London Graduate Fashion week, was inspired by the royal arts of the Benin Kingdom from the South-South region of Nigeria.
“I never really wanted to be a boss – I just wanted to design”
“I’m the son of an African tailor. I’ve been around fashion and sewing all my life, which has become second nature to me.
I studied fashion design at University of East London and graduated in 2015 after initially enrolling to study architecture.
I realised it wasn’t for me.
My first taste of the fashion industry was through modelling and, quite frankly, I thought I could do better.
House of Dz, pronounced ‘Dee zee’, exposes real urban street style to the public by tapping into the Urban Luxury market.
One of the two mantras that I keep to is ‘Simplicity ain’t Simple’. This helps me design with the vision of making something basic stand out.
There is a perception that achieving a clean design is hard but it’s all a matter of interpretation.
My graduate collection ‘Area boys’ was a true integration of two cultures, bringing the Nigerian luxury and village traditions to meet the London street style.
The graphics was inspired by traditional Benin Art – It features proverbs spoken by my grandmother and the silhouettes were influenced by native Nigerian Garments.
They were all styled to seamlessly fit with the London urban culture.
I chose to make this collection white because I wanted it be simple but different to the typical African Prints. I wanted it to show my heritage and my everyday influences.
Growing up in two cultures, it’s sometimes hard to fit in or to decide which to embrace the most – My first collection brings them together.
The thought process behind my designs is to show people how I see the world and hope they come to appreciate it.
I’ve realised that it’s easier to design when you’re passionate about it and you worry less about people liking it.
If you really like it, there are probably others who will too.
“Plan, Plan, Plan – Organisation is so important”
I was initially selling Snapbacks and doing bespoke work before officially launching House of Dz in 2013, after being made redundant during my gap year from university.
The business experienced a little whirlwind in the beginning because I didn’t plan any of it properly.
I had the knowledge and the insight of what to do but didn’t know how to implement it.
I used my time at university to build my brand and contacts. Getting customers was not straight forward and without a product, you can’t even sell a service or market it.
I’ve always known that I wanted my own brand, which was the end goal, but I never really wanted to be a boss – I just wanted to design.
I plan to have my collections stocked worldwide in luxury boutiques in the next three years and to also become one of the leading names of contemporary fashion/urban luxury in ten years time.
The best part about running your own business is the freedom and having no one to answer to.
At the same time, it’s also the worst. You have to be very self-motivated and be used to not having someone monitor you, which can reduce time wastage.
My advice to others is to plan, plan, plan – Organisation is so important.
Make sure you know what you want to achieve.”