“Back then they didn’t want me, now I’m hot, they’re all on me” – The illustrious Mike Jones.
That song doesn’t necessarily have much to do with this brand but it is something to think about. Back “then” being Nigerian (or from African in general) wasn’t exactly “cool”. As a matter of fact, we were made fun of for it. Well this brand, NITNC (Nigerian Is The New Cool), is aiming to turn things around, especially in this new day and age where everyone is bumping afrobeats and wearing dashikis. We caught up with the owner, Toib Olarinde (not Tobi) to find out more.
Nigerian is the New Cool started in Fort Lauderdale Florida in 2009. The vision of the shirts and the brand came to me in a dream. I felt it fit best with the accomplishments of Nigerians and Nigerian-Americans across the world. As a first-generation Nigerian-American, I felt it was only right to help shine a spotlight on our culture, our people, and our pride.
How did you start NITNC?
Before producing NITNC’s shirts, I already had an urban T-shirt line called “Da Bottom Clothing,” now, NITNC is a sub-division of Da Bottom Clothing. We wanted to expand the business of streetwear into a global culture and company. The idea of “Nigerian is the New Cool” was supposed to be just a shirt under Da Bottom Clothing line. Later, my business partner, Six and I sat down and talked about the idea of making NITNC into its own brand alongside with Da Bottom…. And NITNC was born!
What is your creative process? How do you decide what you want to design?
The funny thing is we don’t have a creative process when it comes to shirt designs. I know you are sitting there and thinking that it’s weird. How we come up with our designs are simple – just letting things and ideas come to mind. For instance, our signature shirt “NIGERIAN IS THE NEW COOL” was an idea that came from a random conversation with a friend. Our design ideas sometimes come from conversations with family, friends, other Nigerians, art, music, and ideas that just pop into our heads by hanging out and chilling.
How many people are on the NITNC team?
Our team is three people deep and strong.
My business partner Six is the creative genius and design artist. My sister Aisat takes care of marketing, public relation and she loves to boss me around. And then it’s me, Toib, I am the Chief Executive. I oversee and do everything under the brand.
Why do you think “Nigerian is the new cool”?
I get asked this question a lot, and after I give my answer, everyone always replied with, “NIGERIANS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COOL!”
I feel Nigerians are the new cool because our culture is gaining mainstream success and exposure. With the success of social media–the world sees Nigerians in high power positions all over the world, and we are running things! Like with Afrobeats music, it is one of the fastest growing genres of music out now. Nowadays, you go to clubs or lounges, and all you will hear are Afrobeats music, and Afrobeats infused tracks played. And the crowd goes crazy when it comes on. Also, we as Nigerians have influenced a lot of things that are going on in the world. How many times have you told someone you are Nigerian and they get excited to meet you? LOL! People love our music, our movies, our fashion and wedding parties. All of us are not scammers. We are changing the worldviews of our culture; this makes Nigerians the NEW COOL!
What do your parents think of the line?
They are very proud of the line and support it. Both my father and mother are natural-born Nigerians from Lagos. They are happy that we are embracing our culture and overwhelmed with the success of the clothing line. My whole family helps with the success of the shirts. My mother sells NITNC shirts in her shop in Nigeria. My father and sister help with marketing and promoting of the shirts. My two younger sisters are NITNC’s models.
Do you plan to expand beyond tee shirts?
Yes, we do and are working on it. We are planning to open up a couple of storefronts in Nigeria and United States. I would love to tell you more of our plans we have to come down the line but “EVERYTHING IS TOP SECRET”! Just make sure to check out nigerinaisithenewcool.com new apparel and upcoming events. WE ARE UP TO SOMETHING!
What are your goals for the brand?
I want NITNC to gain international exposure and success like brands like Crooks & Castles, 10 Deep, Undefeated, and Diamond Supply of the World. My goal is to make NITNC a global phenomenon, a worldwide brand and an artistic statement for Nigerians, Nigerians-Americans and everybody that loves Nigerian culture. There are other ideas we want to tap into outside of the clothing line; that will come soon. The sky is the limit, and with NITNC we can go anywhere we want to go with this movement. Also remember as well “NAIJA NO DEY CARRY LAST!”