Cang the fashion label with a conscience

Jermaine Nwankwo 

Fashion Designer | Founder

 

Discover the realities of launching a Fashion label from London based Fashion designer Jermaine, Founder of the label Cang (Conceptual, Aesthetic, Neutral, Garments). Speaking on the lessons he learnt and what the future holds for this emerging brand. 

How did you get into fashion and why did you start?

I can’t give you a specific reason why or how but I think it’s something that came to me naturally. I was in my first year in college and I was thinking what am I going to do after and the first thing that came to mind was fashion. I’ve always been interested in clothes, in dressing nicely and looking good. That was my form of confidence because I'm very introverted and very shy. So for me dressing up and looking nice was my way of being noticed. So when it came to what I wanted to do with my life it just came to me naturally.

Initially, I wanted to be like the Levi of the UK. I was going to make jeans because I was tall and I couldn't find black jeans that fitted or so I thought but I was 16 then, and that was a long time ago but that’s how it started.

Cang is an abbreviation for Conceptual, Aesthetic, Neutral, Garments. Neutral in a sense that fashion is very genderless now meaning that boys and girls can wear it. Everything is based on that concept, everything has a story behind it and there is a reason for everything. That’s what Cang is and that’s what I wanted.

 

What was the concept for this first collection?

The overall concept of Cang is basically a story. So as an artist I like to tell stories and my chosen medium is fashion. So I will be telling the stories through fashion. Cang is a journey of a man through life's ups and downs, highs and lows trials and tribulations. This first collection is called ‘Fall On A Rise’ and it’s about a man falling mentally but he will rise one day. It talks about someone who is very talented but scared to showcase his talents. He’s secluded from this world and he's afraid to be noticed. Each piece shows that in a way.

Photography: Kareem Abdul

Photography: Kareem Abdul

 

What inspired the ‘Fall On A Rise’ concept?

Maybe it’s just me? Where I was and what I was going through. Initially when I started thinking about Cang I just wanted to make clothes for making clothes sake. I wanted to build a brand like this or that. But I thought it would be more interesting to have a brand that tells a story, has a conscience, almost like listening to music. So to have a brand that could bring people out of their skins – to make people want to be noticed.
 

Photography: Kareem Abdul

Photography: Kareem Abdul

How would describe your creative process for Cang?

This might sound weird but I just get ideas and store them in my mind. For example my next collection is designed in my mind. I don’t know – I can see something that inspires me or the idea just comes. I will pencil it or paint it and then I will take it to my pattern cutter. We then discuss it, we build a mock up then change it, alter it. Then I find the fabric and we make it. Then we alter it again and we will keep altering it till its ready to sew. That’s the process in a nutshell.


Would you say you met most of the people you are working with now whilst you were at uni?

I didn’t study fashion at uni – I studied textiles in college for two years and I studied Graphic design in college but that was for one year. It was silly of me, I thought I was creative person and I want to start a business in fashion so I thought let me go to uni and study something else to make myself more rounded. Obviously there is a design aspect to it so I thought I should learn the business side to it because if I don’t know that, then what’s the point? So I studied account and finance because I wanted to be self employed.

 

Photography: Barbara Premo

Photography: Barbara Premo

 

How did you find the process of creating a fashion label? What were the hardest moments?

Everything was hard. Difficult. A lot of time - you have to be patient. I learnt a lot of lessons, I made this collection quite simple because it was my first time and I didn’t want to be too ambitious... yet. I wanted to make something unique in the same way. I thought I would do this in 6 months but it took longer than that. Fashion is business and you have to deal with a lot of people and liaising with manufacturers. When you’re small it can be difficult to get these fabrics, or to get certain dyes on time. They see all your stuff as small and say ‘oh this person is paying for 150 meters, you just want 20 of something... I’m not going to make more for you’ so you have to wait for them. A lot of it is just waiting and being patient. There has been so many mistakes but I’ve learnt so much and the next collection should be easier.
 

Photography: Barbara Premo

Photography: Barbara Premo

"A lot of it is just waiting and being patient. There has been so many mistakes but I’ve learnt so much"


If you could pick three things you would do differently from the first collection or the process what would they be?

In terms of design I would be more decisive. I wasted money on stuff that I shouldn’t be doing. With design there are so many ways you can do something, like making two different items but using the same pattern, so these are things I’ve been learning. Also being cost effective and those are the three things.

 

 

What are your future plans for Cang?

This year preview another capsule collection, more visuals. I think they are short term plans for this year. I’m really big on visuals even with this collection I need to produce more visuals. I want Cang to be as big as it can. I want people to see the growth most importantly and people to understand what this brand means. It should feel like a school almost, you wearing this is like being a part of this school and a part of this story. Each collection will be a different story leading on from the last one.

 

Do you have someone in mind when designing pieces?

Yes I do – someone who works in construction. Construction is very specific but someone who does hard manual labour. Someone with hard hands from working with different materials, basically someone not working behind a desk. Someone who has to struggle to do something to achieve something. You look at their hands and you can see the story. I want everything in Cang to feel wearable. Wearable ready to wear clothes. Cang is safe in a sense but what I do with colour and how I put it together it will be bold at the same time. It’s a mixture, like two worlds colliding.

 

Is anyone else in your family creative? Also how did they respond to your decision to work in fashion?

I’ve said since I was 16 this is what I want to do. From a young age I was always drawing but I’m from an African household and they were saying do this, do that, that is where the money is at! I’m the only one I can think of that is doing anything like this. At first it was like saying I want to be a rapper and showing them my mix tape. They might not listen to it or even say it’s dead and it was kind of like that in the beginning. When I would show someone this is what I do they would be like ‘oh ok’ and that was how my family was; but the more I showed my family work the more they realised how serious I was. Now they are like ‘that’s nice’ ‘when is this coming out?’

Saying all of this my family are very supportive and they just want the best for me. So show everyone your mix tape!


FOLLOW + CONNECT:

Visit: cang.co.uk
Instagram: @cangofficial

Photography: Kareem Abdul & Barbara Premo
Words: Swakara Atwell-Bennett