T-Files 008: Adrian Aitcheson

Today we’ve got an interview with the founder and Creative Director of one of the most interesting labels I know; TBG. Having initially launched Too Black Guys in Canada at the start of the ’90s, Adrian’s brand was a runaway success and he soon had a flagship shop in T-Dot and another in the Big Apple. He eventually moved on, becoming the Design Director at major Canadian brand Roots, and even designed Olympic apparel for the Canadian and American teams. Nearly two decades later, TBG was relaunched, to much critical acclaim, and somehow Adrian continues to produce some of the freshest collections around, all while juggling gigs like a Head Designer position at Canada Goose, an absolutely incredible outerwear brand – incase you live in the Bahamas and don’t shop for quality down snorkel jackets much. As is always the case with the T-Files, I’m very thankful that Adrian took time from his busy schedule to do this…

Where are you today? It’s New Year’s Eve so I am in my home office – my basement. 

What have you been working on lately? Along with working on TBG’s Summer and Fall ’09, I am currently designing Fall 2010 for Canada Goose and I recently joined the design team at the Hudson’s Bay Company. I am also working on the next TBG women’s delivery. 

Do you identify TBG as a Canadian brand? Does operating out of Canada give you a different take on things than say American brands or Japanese brands? Most of all we are a hip-hop brand but we are definitely a Canadian brand as well. I think that where you came up, as well as where you live will influence your perspective, especially if you are dedicated to creating and not copying. I think that you can see “Canada” in TBG’s sense of humor, which is different from the US or Japan. We also tend not to “design for design’s sake” which I think is also different from other places.

So far, each TBG delivery has had a central theme, and the latest TBG collection was entitled “The Beautiful Boogeyman Merchants of Fear,” can you describe some of the influences or concepts the theme deals with? That collection was inspired when I thought about the different ways that fear was being marketed one day when I was listening to Mos Def’s “The Boogie Man Song.” The graphics deal with different aspects of selling products or pushing agendas through manipulation of individual and collective fear. From immigration to pharmaceuticals to religion to hip-hop. A market has even emerged from the fear of global warming.  

And out of that collection, which would be your particular favorite design/piece and why? I really seem to like wearing the Boogeyman hoody, so I would have to say that is my favorite. I also wear the National Health Scare tee a lot.

Seen anything inspiring from another brand/designer lately? I really liked some of the Banksy pieces, especially the Hanging Klansman that was done in Birmingham. I also continue to be inspired by Apple’s packaging design. As far as brands, I’ve been liking Ray Bans, CDG, and Lanvin.

What, if anything, has been distracting you from work? We’re working on some home renovations and that has been disruptive. Otherwise, I’ve been motivated and I enjoy the challenges of the projects that I’m working on.

Anything else you’d like to speak on at the moment? Good luck to Obama. I hope that he does his thing and I hope that people won’t be disappointed. As far as I know, this will be the first presidential inauguration with after parties.

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