The Heat Under The Stove: A Conversation with Tope Alaka of Flair Cloths
Written by Norrin Nicholas
It’s often said that those who have the motivation and the dedication to live out their dreams; will do so no matter whatever obstacle they face. Not often do you have many individuals that have both for their dreams; some let their dreams die due to lack of confidence or the tools, others merely because they “got bored.” Some individuals, however, do acquire both and with both of these traits they go on to do some pretty amazing things. One person, for example, is Tope Alaka, owner of FLAIRCloths, the young Texan fashion designer who’s recently been working hard and living his dream as of lately. Tope even has plans for a new collection coming very soon. I got the chance to speak with Tope and learn more about who he is and the meaning behind his brand and movement. You can read below.
Who are you?
Tope Alaka owner of Flaircloths
Where are you from?
Born in Lagos, Nigeria. Raised & live in Dallas, Texas.
How old are you?
What is it that you do?
Tope: Basically the brain behind Flair cloth; A clothing brand based on the love me and my bros had for wrestling growing up, and flair meaning to be original and stylish.
How long ago did you start Flair?
Thought about it late 2013 and then decided to bring it to life early 2014.
How long have you been working with clothes as far as designing and creating?
Basically, when I started Flair that's when I started creating and designing but in my opinion I've always had a nice sense of style from the jump. So I think that's also why I decided I could do this.
Do you have any inspirations as far as fashion goes?
Yeah I really like what JoeFreshGoods doing with his brand “DBM”, he really shows you how to run a brand and be pretty successful with it. Also like what Jai Eleven doing with his [Nothing] brand based in the U.K., his creativity and vision is fye. I also have to include my bro ZEUS TRAPPIN "Trap" brand stupid fye and it represents the down south culture.
"Starting off, I was trying to keep up and compete. Now I'm just concerned about growth and forming my own lane with this. As far as creative progress I learned stuff and have worked with people who have and are helping me bring my visions to life."
So when you first started FLAIR what gave you the motivation to keep it going?
My cousin, Dare Etti, passing away. He's really why I do it; an homage to our youth growing up together and watching wrestling. So I can't quit with this, I'll let him down.
How did the wrestling concept click?
My cousin passed in 2013 ( R.I.P Dare ) . So in 2014 when I was creating my brand I wanted to pay homage to him some way through my brand . So I thought about it and decided I would find something we both enjoyed doing growing up . So that's where the wrestling concept came from.
Comparing FLAIR from when you started to now how big is the difference as far as success and creative progress?
Starting off, I was trying to keep up and compete. Now I'm just concerned about growth and forming my own lane with this. As far as creative progress I learned stuff and have worked with people who have and are helping me bring my visions to life.
Do have any plans for expansion of the brand?
Just more merchandise for the rest of this year and the 2017 collection.
So what was the first piece you made with FLAIR?
The classic black FLAIR cap.
What made you decide to start with hats at the time?
I played around with a couple different other samples but that one I thought had the most potential to pop shit off me.
In retrospect do you still like the way you started off with the first piece?
Yea I liked it open doors for me and showed me that I could do this.
How did you get connected with Aston Matthews?
My homie from Cali, Brandon who owns "Mommas Boy Co.", shout out Mommas boy co. Told him to check out the brand he fucked with it, and we decided to work cause we both embracing the wrestling culture.
That was a crazy collaboration y'all stunted together, should we see something like that again in the future?
Yea we built up a relationship from there, so we always working now.
Do you have any plans for the rest of 2016?
Yeah, a couple Fall pieces dropping and a few winter pieces dropping. All next level though.