London based brand Calafar have broken through the capital’s saturated streetwear scene with a multiplicity of stand out collections. Paying homage to the big smoke’s rawness and innate diversity, the label’s lookbooks effortlessly capture what living in London means to those growing up there. Kojo Dwimoh, who we have previously interviewed on our site, is the mastermind behind the lens, but It’s Calafar’s clothing that makes the photos.
The imprint have looked to football and 5 aside culture as inspiration for their 4th collection. 3 nike jerseys, in white, blue and black colour ways, and a sweat towel make up the capsule - which, without trying to sound pretentious, all feel metaphorical of the drive and ambition they look to push through the brand.
If you’re a hustler, you’ll find it easy to confide in the Calafar narrative. The label's positive outlook on the youth of today counteracts the demonised, full tracksuit and trainers, juvenile stereotype created by the metropolitan press. Football tees, joggers and airmax are essential garments for the modern day opportunist. We spoke to Raf, Calafar’s founder, about his latest release, what the brand means to him and living in the capital.
Read up below.
What was the idea behind your SS20 range?
You’ve gotta stay comfy at all times and the heat/humidity this summer is evidently very intense. Football shirts have been a go to summer piece for me for quite a while now and I know for a fact that football shirts have been a staple piece in London style for a very long time, as well as in many other parts of Europe and South America. In terms of the brand, our goal is to rehash original London aesthetics and classic pieces, into a new product that is “the best version” of these garments, under our brand name. I’m a fan of football culture and style, as it’s a more convenient and functional way of life and dressing, that is definitely more fly than current big trends that you see all over the net today. Just throw on some shox, trackies and a footy shirt and you’ll be drippin harder than all these other guys looking like billboards, with their designer logos slapped all over them.
Why did you choose to print on Nike as opposed to any other sports label? Why were they the best fit for Calafar?
You already know bro, Nike all the way. If I’m given a choice between Nike and any other sportswear brand, l’m instantaneously picking Nike, no ifs or buts. They offer some of the best sportswear and fashion technology in the world, and have been pioneers in the industry for countless years. Furthermore, Nike undoubtedly has the biggest presence in London style and life as a brand and I think it’s imperative to stick with my roots and represent my city in the flyest way possible.
As a brand, what and who does Calafar look to represent?
Calafar doesn’t represent anyone but Calafar. If you’re a grinder and a driven person, you’re part of the team. Calafar is lifestyle and mindset. We have one rule: no bummy yutes! You have to be chasing something; wether it’s working extra hours to put food on the family dinner table, or training 45 hours a week to play in the Premier League. London is a city crawling with hustlers, and I guess you could look at it as a brand that represents everything about London, on a wearable piece of fabric. If you wear Calafar in NY, people will know you’ve come from London. Simple.
Your LookBook was shot by Kojo Dwimoh, a very sick photographer. How do you know him and why did you want him behind the lens?
I don’t know what this guy eats for breakfast, or what planet he’s come from, but Kojo’s talent cannot be matched by an average human. His shots are so raw and have London written all over them. He captures so many different aspects of our city’s culture and adds his own twist to his shots, creating a final product that blows me away every single time. I can confidently say that if he keeps up his momentum and work rate, he will definitely be one of the top photographers out of the UK within the next couple of years. I’ve known Kojo since primary school and I hit him up for my FW/19 collection. I’ve worked with him ever since and I plan to work strictly with him into the future. That’s my bro fr, and I don’t see why I’d use anyone else for photography work.
There are a shit load of brands out there, in such a saturated market, how do you look to do Calafar differently?
It’s simple. Let the product and the brand’s output do the talking. Personal style nowadays is a very rare sight and in my opinion fashion culture has been slightly ruined over the past couple of years. In the streets, all you see is a single “walking trend” with zero diversity and unique attributes. It’s like social media and the internet have created a clone army. Everyone looks the same. From what I can see, 90% of brands in market reproduce each other’s work and cater for current trends. Calafar does the complete opposite, as we stay in our own lane and build the foundations of a true and real brand. We cater for those who know their own style but also about past and future aesthetics. We don’t follow the crowd; the crowd follows us.
What was on your playlist when you were making this collection?
Pree the “SWEAT IT.” Calafar playlist on Spotify. I pretty much had that rolling throughout the whole process. I listen to music, predominantly rap, from a number of places. The list of some of the US artists that I was bumping consists of artists like Sheff G, NBA Youngboy, Kodak Black, 50, Max B, Polo G, Lil Durk, and Pop Smoke. In terms of UK artists, I heavily listened to Born Trappy, the S3 mandem, Nines, House of Pharaohs, Novelist, 5EB, Skrapz, K-trap, and many more. I also buss on some French rap occasionally, with the likes of III., Zola, Moha La Squale, Kekra, Isk, Diddi Trix, and Timal. There are particular songs and artists that just enhance my mood to grind.
What’s next for Calafar?
Calafar is about to take over. Mark my words. I have A-Levels coming up so I may have to slow down the pace a bit with the brand, but the second I have school out of the way, the rest of scene better prepare for us. We have a mazza in store for the streets, so keep your eyes peeled and make sure you’re part of the team before we go global!
BIG UPS TO RAFAL AND THE CALAFAR TEAM FOR ANSWERING OUR QUESTIONS. YOU CAN BUY THEIR GARMS HERE.
WRITTEN BY LIAM CATTERMOLE