JIMMY AYENI & OLA BADIRU
Interview with Founders of Modus Vivendii
Photography: Chuka Nwobi
Interview: Derrick Odafi
Modus Vivendii Is a contemporary arts concept, an entity that cannot be described in any context other than its Latin derivative; Our Way of Living. Founded by Jimmy Ayeni, Ola Badiru and Anthony Oye, these three friends started their march towards a streetwear in the year 2011 and now have made a mark in the industry that cannot be ignored. Vivendii is a brand that shows what is possible in the modern era, starting as a blog then transitioning into a fashion house that has a reputation for connecting with its audience and delivering individuality within streetwear. The young visionaries were mentored during their genesis by the world-renowned fashion designer Roberto Cavalli and the late great Franca Sozzani of Italian Vogue, giving them the blue print to transition from a blog to innovating product within fashion.
The ethos of the Vivendii brand is to motivate and inspire young creatives of African descent or otherwise to create in whatever discipline they see fit. Creative Director, Jimmy Ayeni as an International Business and IT incorporated that knowledge, alongside Oye and Badiru, with his love for fashion to create a brand that is currently recognised for a distant perspective of design and a stellar understanding of visual presentation. The founders of Vivendii have an inflexible bond that allows them to move as a unit on decision pertaining to design, production, and marketing.
Please tell us about the 3 founders of the brand
I founded the brand with my best friends Anthony and Ola. We went to school together and kind of knew each other on the level of understanding what each person’s idea of design was and fusing it all together to mould the vision of where we want to end up.
Tell us about your individual backgrounds and where you come from?
Originally, I studied international business and IT. I wasn’t doing anything within fashion but the thing with Vivendii was making sure we express ourselves on a different level. My whole ethos is that you don’t have to do fashion to actually do fashion, the same with sports and media, it’s just about if you can put 100% into it and push it for long enough, it will run. That’s what my thing has always been about.
It is not so usual you see an African brand making such waves in the industry, what would you attribute that to?
I would attribute it to God. Honestly, its about a 100% effort, me and my bros Anthony and Ola. They give me the stamina and motivation to really be able to constantly put out a 100%. We’ve created a standard between us that, yo, it’s all or nothing. If something doesn’t feel 100% we just don’t do it.
From Blog To Brand:
How did you guys transition from a fashion blog to creators of fashion?
To be honest, I’m keeping it a buck. We had this insane opportunity with Roberto Cavalli and Franco Susani of luomo Vogue. They came to Lagos and we had the amazing opportunity to meet them. It was written in stone. We told them what we do and at the time I was 18, they just couldn’t believe what we were doing at that age. They pushed us and mentored us, saying “forget this blog thing that your doing, sell product. You guys need to create an identity within fashion and sell product within fashion”. They gave us the Zeal, the vibe and the Blueprint to just keep this thing going.
How did you guys feel at his Milan February 2012 show?
Insane, like, I was 17 at the time. Shit just felt ridiculous. I was second row at the show, Khloe Kardashian was in front of me. It was amazing to just feel that. I feel like Cavalli’s real impact on my life was him giving us a first-hand feel of what could happen. He gave me that taste, just those few drops in my mouth that made me realise my vision can be a reality. He made me feel like If we really do what we’re doing, this shit could really run. I will never forget that feeling.
What was the creative concept behind your campaign shoot for this collection?
Its always about a new African generation, a new African vibe, putting our people on to the freshest s**t. We’re Nigerians, let us just be proud about it and rep it to the fullest. We plan to make being Nigerian fell as dope as can be.
What do you feel like the fashion industry is lacking in this present time?
It’s not really missing too much, but I feel like there is a lot of capitalisation of youth culture. It is important we don’t let them gentrify our s**t, you know? We are the youth, we are the people. Don’t let them gentrify your s**t anywhere. Let’s do our thing and continue to build and progress.
What does the word Quality mean to your brand?
Mehn, Quality is everything oh, it’s not just about the production of the clothing, its also about where it is you can take you clothes, what it really means to people.
Ola: I’m Just going to crash in on Jimmy’s interview, just because I feel like it. I just want to tell you that this guy is dope as f**k and he’s a creative genius. He puts a lot of work in, this guy is like the engine behind the Vivendii movement, he’s Jimmy: Vivendii is an entity that people can’t comprehend.
We’re all intertwined, you feel me? The whole thing is intertwined. We can’t exist without each other. We realised we need each other to progress, no man is an island.
So, you guys exemplify Nigerian unity basically?
Jimmy: Dat way, these are my brothers.
Ola: It's about understanding that there are things that you can do, and others can do certain other things. When you realise you can complement each other and work together, you are aware of your weaknesses and understand where people are stronger in certain areas. Its important to acknowledge that when working in a team of people. Its not about any individual, it’s about the bigger picture.
Jimmy: What is so important within our Vivendii base is that this guy [Ola] and Anthony are just as important as anything. We are equally important to the progression of this brand. This couldn’t happen if Ola didn’t exist, it couldn’t happen if Tony didn’t exist. That’s just the way the s**t goes. Without these guys I couldn’t do this. It's all BS if these guys weren’t involved.
What is your wildest creative dream personally and with relation to Vivendii?
To build a brand that’s as big as Ralph Lauren.
When you meet Kanye West, what would you like to offer him creatively?
Umm, I would say it would be an African definition of what he’s been trying to put out for the past 5 – 10 years and put it on a whole new level.
We understand you have a vision for your brand to be global, how do you see your brand taking men’s wear and women’s wear to new heights?
Just to bring forth an African perspective. Some dope s**t, some new s**t, our whole thing Is about innovative design.
Vivendii have recently released some new clothing for their new collection titled 'The Game Is The Game'. Purchase some clothing from their latest release here