Posted on 4 Oct By Visionarism

Interview w/ Foday Dumbuya, Founder of Labrum.

It isn’t easy to make it in the fashion industry. In a highly competitive environment, brands come and go, and only a few manage to make a name for themselves. It is hard to say if there is a secret recipe to the creation of a successful clothing brand, but there are definitely patterns that we can identify from the early stages. London based label Labrum seems to have all the keys to a bright future in the fashion industry: quality, creativity, and relevance. We went to meet with Labrum’s founder and creative director Foday Dumbuya, to get a preview of the AW17 collection, and get a better understating of the “behind the scenes” of a brand in the making…

Can you tell our readers who you are…

My name is Foday Dumbuya (people call me Fods!) and I make clothes.


Tell us about Labrum, the concept behind it, and how it all started?

The concept behind Labrum is simple; to create modern, practical workwear staples, with a focus on every single detail; from innovative fabrics, the type of stitching we use, to the buttons. For us the edge is in the detail.

I literally started Labrum from my living room, with the catalyst being how over commercialise menswear has become which I feel has made a lot of brands/designers complacent and have embrace the nature of throwaway fashion (which is apparent in the materials and construction with certain garments). I created Labrum to rebel against short-term trend, to create timeless fashion. I gain inspiration from life, which for me is a journey, from growing up in Sierra Leone, to Cyprus, and London. The concept of travel and exploration has been constant throughout my life and I apply things that I have seen and learned to the Labrum design ethos. Labrum is a product of experience and heritage with my own personal interpretation.

How do you position your brand in the market?

Labrum isn’t here to saturate the market as we focus on the individual. Being small allows us to adapt. We’re a local East London brand that knows its people. Being a small brand has allowed us to build relationships through our passion, craftsmanship, quality and the use of innovative fabrics on our garments.


How do you differentiate your brand from your competitors and what makes it unique?

Labrum is different from other competition because we are purposeful with everything we create; the design ethos is a balance between quality, fit, innovative fabrics that caters for the modern man’s needs. We have formed partnerships with British and Japanese textile millers to create fabrics that are unique and particle.

What challenges have you faced? And how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenges we have faced so far is to make the right product a year in advance; garments that meets both the want and need of Labrum core customer, in a way that no one else is doing. It is a mindset that requires conviction in what we are doing is right for our customers and us in the long term.


Where do you want to take your brand in 5 years?

Our focus is to develop Labrum as a staple of the London menswear scene. To build a reputation takes time, so our focus is on creating directional clothing that stays true to our core beliefs as a brand. We are currently stocked in four major menswear stores in London and one in Berlin so our goal is to grow so that Labrum is the most recognised British brand on the menswear scene.


How do you choose the people you work with?

I believe it’s important to work with people that aren’t ‘yes people’, I tend to work with people who aren’t afraid to express ideas and opinions. The last person I want to work with is someone who tells me what I want to hear. The creative process is one of collaboration in bringing an idea to life, so I only work with people who are confident to make that happen.

We feel that your designs are very relevant and are aligning with the current trends. Where do you get your inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from life experiences, surroundings and obstacles I go through on a daily basis; whilst reflecting my fascination for true craftsmanship, simplicity and sheer obsession of buttons. Running has been a big part of my life for many years and I’ve found that being out on the road inspires me, as it stimulates my brain to think creatively. Whenever I feel stuck or uninspired, I’ll put on my running shoes, go for a run through the city. No music, I’m there taking in local sights, sounds and people, running free to allow my mind to wonder. I find clarity of vision hits me half way through a run, which is normally the point I’ll turn and head home to work.


What are the marketing tools that you use to bring exposure to your brand?

Social media is our strongest tool in reaching and engaging with our target audience. Paid media in theory sounds like a good idea, but in this day and age Social media is the my main source of tool I used for marketing as its free, cost effective and will be able to ascertain what’s working and what not working. Also, I am able to showcase to my audience instantly what am working on and give them a glimpse of what the collection will look like just to get reaction, whether they like the direction am going or not. This enables me to make last minute changes to the design to cater for my consumers.


What are the brands that you wear? (outside of Labrum) And did any of them influence you in the creative process behind your own brand?

I tend to mix and match my outfit daily, I start with a labrum piece and then work around it with a bit of Kenzo, Raf Simmons, Nike and Cos. Everything I wear has to compliment each other and I am a man of subtlety. The creative process is influenced by my personal style, so I have been influenced by all of the great designers but I always try to remain original to my ideas.


If you had to name one menswear brand that stands out of the crowd which one would it be?



What’s next for Labrum?

The mission always stays the same, so I’m currently putting the finishing touches to the Autumn/Winter’17 collection that I am hoping to showcase at Man fashion trade show during Paris Mens fashion week.

Thank you for your time Fods!

All images by @Visionarism.