Tete-a-tete with Popiano, the brains behind the revolutionary Haute Couture: “3redSmit”


Hello, my name is Olatunde Aridegbe. I was born in Lagos but I’m from Osun state. Education started at command children’s school Ann barracks, then I moved to model college, Igbogbo in Ikorodu for secondary school education. I had to leave later on because of strike issues though. I then moved to a private school, Providence heights secondary school somewhere in Iju. I finished in 2003 and by the slimmest of chances found myself in Covenant University cos I was supposed to travel out but that didn’t happen at the last minute. I studied architecture for a 1st degree, went on to UNILAG and did another two years in school studying architecture as a second degree. Now I currently practice architecture and run a clothing line: (3redsmit)…
Basically, 3redsmit started out of my love for fashion. I had always loved shoes (sneakers) as a teenager, and then went to a university that was really fashion conscious so it all just followed. Also, I used to sell perfumes and wristwatches in Covenant University and used to tell people it was gonn’ be bigger than what it was at that time. I also love to design. That’s basically how I started from pants to dress shirts. I didn’t even make tees back then until I met the Oshokoya brothers or rather until we talked and formed ‘streetline’. But it never really got going cos we really weren’t on the same page. We still hangout though, Tolu is my hommie for life. When I was about to finish my master’s programme, I formed 3redsmit with the help of a friend, sola, and got some other people involved. We decided to start with tee shirts and then move from there- there’s been no looking back ever since! The idea is to do a whole lot more stuff and we’d get there pretty soon. People don’t even know what we are capable of yet.

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The response so far has been good. We have our small group of ‘die hard’ fans. People I don’t even know meet me and go: “oh you’re the guy that runs 3redsmit? You guys are awesome, good job, your stuff is different…” and sometimes you see someone you don’t know wear a shirt you designed. That’s like the greatest feeling ever. It’s those moments you know you have to be doing something right. As for my parents, well, it’s my mum basically. She was not into it like that, I don’t think she still is, because there is that expectation that after two degrees, u just fit into that stereotype and get a tie-wearing job. She piped down though after I gave her my certificate of incorporation to keep for me. She just knew I was serious plus I’m really stubborn too 🙂 and I happen to believe in 3redsmit. It’s been good so far… Really good.
Striking a balance between architecture and the clothing line hasn’t been the easiest of things at all. Most times I wish there were extra hours in a day and sometimes you’re too tired to even do anything. Architecture isn’t like any other discipline, you are already used to the late nights right from the 1st day you get into it, it’s stressful. So imagine combining that with something equally as stressful and dead-line oriented: crazy! But I do have a team now for 3redsmit and they are really awesome people so the workload has reduced. But I still have a whole lot to do, I don’t sleep most times. Architecture was my original passion, but in the end I think I just love to design and create stuff and NO I don’t intend to drop one for the other, but it’s more 3redsmit nowadays 🙂
3redsmit hasn’t even put out anything yet except tees so people just put us in that ‘they make tees’ bracket, they don’t know our full capability.

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Hmm…about me? That’s hard. I’m pretty easy to read so nothing to really hide. I think I’m shy the 1st time I meet people though but it ends at that 1st meeting. Professionally, I do brand work and product design too, done that for a couple of companies, few people know that.
I’m pretty much involved in every aspect of creating the wears. I don’t sew though (time won’t let me) but you still have to be involved. For instance, if I make a design now, I have to know what is possible and not possible for the tailor, I have to know what it takes to put a gradient on a shirt as opposed to a single color. I do the separations myself most times, ‘cos some designs are complex for someone who didn’t start it from scratch. And I have to be there when every piece is printed as there would always be instant decisions to be made like change of color and what color to change it to, what shade, etc. It’s tasking, ‘cos if I show u a picture of a design, I have to make sure it comes out that exact way.

YES!!! Other than tees, we make other pieces of clothing. Thing is we see every collection (3 now, ‘bout 75 designs in total) we’ve released as mix tapes sort off. It’s like we are artistes. And now we are ready to do an album. Our new collection is totally different from anything we’ve done. There are polos, crop tops, shorts, tank tops, tees; sweat tops, varsities, hoodies… we even have peplum tops too. We kinda went all out, but with still the same ideology, that it should be design oriented. The collection is going to be out in July, that’s next month.
Like every other industry, fashion in Nigeria is evolving. Like every other industry, it has its problems. And like every other industry, you’d survive only if you love what you do and are not in it primarily for the money.
As for what to look out for in the coming months, like I said, we have a new collection out next month. We’ve been working on it since late last year, I was just gonna do another tee shirt collection but a friend, Banky (I think that girl is just awesome, best artist I met yet), sent me a couple of sketches that was different from anything we’ve ever done and that set the tone for this new collection. It’s really cool I must say, we put a lot into it. We hope to inspire people with the collection. It’s themed: “BRAVE AND RECKLESS”. We’d have a launch and showing for it next month (Of course, I’m sending you details and the look book too 🙂
Shutout to everyone that’s been behind us every step of the way- Thank you! *raises hands* se ko wale ? 😀

*CreativeNaija: “No o! Ko durosoke!”*

Hook up with us on twitter —- @3redsmit or you can reach me through my handle @popiano
Number: 08125212925. There’s a tumblr page too—- www.3redsmit.tumblr.com

And a website



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This article was first published on CreativeNaija in June, 2013


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