Babs Odunlami is a London-based men’s stylist with a deeply rooted respect and affinity for menswear. He founded the men’s lifestyle brand “aTribeCalledStyle” which serves as style inspiration to gentlemen globally while also providing niche wardrobe consultancy services.
As the momentum grows around the world for systemic change inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we spoke to Odunlami about celebrating black creative achievements, both in the UK and globally. Read on for some outstanding black owned businesses in the UK to follow, authors to read and a filmmaker whose body of work includes some of the most urgent and important films out there.
Thank you Babs, for your time and insight.
You can read Part One of our interview with Odunlami, on his early style influences, great design and how to choose eyewear, here.
Favourite black filmmaker and what’s their one film no one should miss?
For her grit and unyielding resolve in breaking the proverbial glass ceilings of race and gender, the multi talented and award-winning Ava DuVernay is arguably my favourite black filmmaker and director. Growing up around the systemic limitations of being an African American, she’s constantly and strategically used her voice and platform to proselytise for black history and black excellence. Her film Selma which was about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights is a must see. It evokes the realities of past struggles yet speaks to events of the present around racial inequalities in a paradoxical blend of poignancy and hope.
Favourite black designer and what is it about their design principles that so resonates with you?
In a world where the terms “designer” and “bespoke tailor” is brandished loosely, he prefers to be referred to as a couturier. Michael Browne is without doubt my favourite black designer. His design principles of creating garments that combine the highest level of technical precision with a couture approach to design is one that really resonates with me. If at all the idea of perfection exists in tailoring, Michael is certainly within spitting distance of it.
Who are the black authors we should be reading now?
Malcolm Gladwell is a personal modern-day favourite of mine. His exceptional storytelling is one attribute of his that has the ability to transport the reader to a completely different stratosphere. With relevance to current events, I think the works of Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka and Toni Morrison are as relevant now as they were years ago.
Who are your favourite artists, creative directors or photographers to follow on Instagram?
Karl-Edwin Guerre (@guerreisms), Dapperlou, David Nyanzi, Steven Onoja, BouBouDesign, Milad Abedi, Banksy are some creatives on Instagram with a talent and touch that I deeply admire.
What’s the best piece of wisdom that’s ever been shared with you?
The best piece of wisdom shared with me is by my Father and it goes thus – “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore seek wisdom. And in all thy seeking, seek understanding”
Who are the black-owned businesses inspiring you in the UK right now?
- Nola Designs ( www.noladesigns.co.uk ; Instagram – @nola.interiors) – Interior Design Studio
- Elavanyo ( www.elavanyo.com ; Instagram – @elavanyo_) – Men’s Accessory Brand
- The Kemist ( www.thekemist.com ; Instagram – @thekemistore) – RTW Womenswear
- Michael Browne ( www.michaelbrowne.eu ; Instagram – @michaelbrowne_eu) – Menswear Couturier
- Sartor Polishing ( www.sartorpolishing.com ; Instagram – @sartorpolishing) – Bespoke Leather colourist & Patina artist
And because, we must ask, what is your favourite jazz record?
Save Your Love For Me – Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley (1962)
Read more about Babs and his thoughts on menswear, style and accessories in part one of our interview with him.
Find more of Odunlami’s work, style and insight on his Instagram and website.
We at Black Eyewear are listening, researching and reflecting on the global conversation taking place, to the outpourings of grief and anger over the systemic racism that makes black and minority lives so much harder. We’re committed as a business to do all we can to address it, to call it out, and to look deeply at ourselves and constantly strive to do better. Black Lives Matter.