Your name “Kids of the Diaspora” is a term that has a strong historical context in German-speaking countries and especially in Vienna – how do you deal with the term diaspora?
It’s a point of view. We see the term diaspora multidimensional and are aimed at all those whose roots, mentality, sexual orientation, whose spirit transcend borders and are categorized as a minority by the majority society. Our core message is “Deconstruct the Concept of Minorities”, we question the concept of minorities. In German-speaking countries, the term diaspora may be thought of as the Jewish one, because we learn most about this diaspora in class, but the term diaspora can be spanned across many other cultural networks. The first shirt is embroidered with a poem written by a poet with a Jewish diasporic background. As children with Nigerian roots, the Nigerian diaspora affects us personally …
How did “Kids of the Diaspora” come about?
We were asked four years ago to enter a t-shirt competition. It was about designing a signature t-shirt that would represent the person wearing it. I wanted to connect so many people who feel like me. That you read something on the T-shirt and think: “That’s exactly how I think.” The competition passed quickly, but the T-shirt stayed. I posted it on Instagram and Facebook and wrote under it what it was like for me to grow up in Vienna, where there was always a lack of belonging. Then people wrote to me saying that they felt the same way and how great it is that someone says it. We then produced the t-shirt based on demand. That is the essence of “Kids of the Diaspora”, a space in which we exchange and communicate as we want it and as we would have liked as children. We want to create realities with the brand that we lacked.
And the label followed right away?
In 2017 we had another project at a street festival. Then Camille Boyer from the “Austrian Fashion Association” approached us and encouraged us to make a collection to show in the DACH showroom in Paris. That motivated us
As a statement label, you also deal with the topic of belonging and diversity based on your own biography. How do you feel about the fact that this topic is being used everywhere in fashion?
It’s an important topic, and if the brand activism trend is going in a good direction and something good is happening, that’s fine. But when it comes to pure self-enrichment and, in the end, feelings are exploited by marginalized people, then we do not get ahead. This is Performative allyship, a purely performative alliance. But if you can really make a difference, then it’s great.
Has the recent wave of solidarity for Black Lives Matter had any impact on your work?
The demonstrations in Vienna were unexpectedly large. Many young people have worn our t-shirts at the demos and have spoken about them. Our t-shirts were perhaps something of a shelter. Apart from that, we didn’t get a major boost from it. We supported Black Lives Matter and the related issues even before this “wave”. But the media that have reported on our label in the past were more interested in being black and asked us explicitly about it.
You spoke of realities that you want to address with the label. Which are they?
Marginalized groups are still underrepresented. There is a trend to print black people on paper, but the minds behind them who produce it may not be as inclusive as the photo. We also want to create points of identification and role models.
What’s next in “Kids of the Diaspora”?
We work intuitively, more thematically than according to collections, and we also work with artists from other disciplines such as music, film or theater. There is so much chaos in the world right now that you don’t know where to look first. And yet we are asked to keep going and do our best. Our next topics are exactly about: Nothing can break our spirit. And identity.
They are mothers and entrepreneurs. How do you bring that together?
With us, work and private life merge. But we are lucky that our family supports us a lot and that our children are the same age and can play with each other. It’s incredibly stressful and it’s a life that you have to make a conscious choice for.