In fashion marketing, two terms are used when speaking of how inspiration works for each fashion season: “trickling down” and “bubbling up”. To trickle down is to have the Miranda Priestlys of the fashion world dictate to us why cobalt blue is in this season and why “darker cobalt blue” is simply… well… not. Bubbling up, on the other hand, is seeing the likes of Virgil Abloh, creative director of street-wear brand Off-White, become the artistic director of menswear at French luxury brand, Louis Vuitton.
An example of Abloh’s modus operandi—his “dope” designs—is his cool take on dad sneakers (retro shoe styles that hail back to the 80s and 90s) by literally printing, “LEFT” and “RIGHT” in quotation marks on the lip of a sneaker in all caps. Top fashionistas call it “edgy”… pretty edgy for a sneaker costing upward of US$500. But for those of us who live in a money-for-rent-paying and food-eating world, we call it “hype.” Hype is not a bad thing,” reflects Asha Diaz, “you have to work your way up to hype.” Ayanna and Asha are the twin sisters behind Wadada Movement, a fresh local brand that has as its watchwords Fashion, Love, Vibes. Wadada—meaning “love” in Aramaic, the national language of Ethiopia—is also a call to vibrate higher while always staying attuned to the happenings of now.
From the get-go it was evident through their charisma and vibe that these sisters’ brand stems from a strong system of beliefs. That confidence infuses into their design aesthetic, making each of the pieces in their line a statement of agreement with their way of life. By tapping into their world of everything “Rasta Love”, they have created a cult of followers loyal to their aesthetic that they’ve affectionately called “Tropical Urban.” Starting with graphic “statement” tee-shirts and progressing to an array of different designs for women, they pride themselves on being a lifestyle brand, versus high fashion and the glamor attached to it. “We want Wadada.
Movement to be a staple piece in your wardrobe”, says Asha, nodding as she glances at Ayanna in unspoken agreement. Ayanna, wearing a black tee that reads, “Babylon is burning” in a bold white font, is the less talkative of the two. Asha explains that from a young age their clothes were made for them, so sewing and creating designs were not foreign concepts.
Creating a label was not always on the horizon for Asha and Ayanna; they studied aviation and hospitality respectively. “I always tried to move and live for a bit in different countries,” explains Ayanna. For her, travelling was important to not only to see the world but to submerge herself into it and experience each culture’s unique characteristics. However, much like their label, travelling is less about simply going without bias, and a little more focused on travelling comfortably.
Because the brand is an extension of their combined experiences, it’s only natural that with their personal growth, it, too, matured. Having returned to Trinidad after her studies, Ayanna felt a pull to start her own brand and couldn’t think of a better person to start it with than Asha. “We aren’t in the fashion circle; the two of us can do it together,” Asha explains, as she highlights the stages at which they realized that starting a brand out of Trinidad was no easy project.
They began with a simple idea and took on its challenges day by day. “At first we had to compromise on designs and ideas because we didn’t know how to do things like sew, but now that we know, it’s easier.” That’s their advice: to understand and do every aspect of starting a brand, from the creative side to building a business plan, and monitoring the progression. Now that they have the self-taught knowledge, their vision and goal are more easily attainable. However, with brands like Wadada Movement, so long as it is marketed well and to the right niche, half the work is done.