General News / August 17, 2017

SELFMADE discuss individuality & combining art with fashion

General News / August 17, 2017

SELFMADE discuss individuality & combining art with fashion

“With social media there is such an apparent sameness with followers competing to copy or imitate what they see on screen. For us, we want everyone to feel special in their own right.”


You might have spotted a mural that recently popped up, painted by local art collective Subset Dublin.

The piece was of spoken word artist Amshwa and was erected to commemorate a recent poetry day with District Magazine and Word Up Collective.

subset mural dublin stormzy amshwa

The photo of Amshwa, aka Gracie Essie, used for the mural was taken by Katie O’Neill during a shoot for clothing brand SELFMADE.

We caught up with SELFMADE to see what they’re all about, their views on Irish fashion and why collaboration is an important aspect of creative culture.


You say on your site that “there is nothing more honest than embracing your true self and owning it”, why is individuality such an important and reoccurring part of your ethos?

SELFMADE for us is not just our brand name but also our brand ethos. For us the celebration of individuality is at the heart of our work. We are all gifted with unique talents and abilities to share with the world and inspire others.

For us we use our clothing as a means to expressing individuality. It’s an avenue whereby our customers can have fun with style, who likes to be adventurous and try new thing, who isn’t afraid to break the mould and stand out for all the right reasons. With social media there is such an apparent sameness with followers competing to copy or imitate what they see on screen. For us, we want everyone to feel special in their own right. When a person really and truly embraces their best self and celebrates that every day it is so refreshing. And if we can play even a small part in inspiring that, that is truly special.

You tend to work with young, burgeoning artists, how important is collaboration to you?

We are so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing and talented friends, creatives through and through. What we enjoy is coming together to combine creative processes to explore new ways of designing, experimenting with new style concepts and ultimately coming out with brand new product ideas.

For us it is an organic process. Sometimes we reach out to fellow creatives if we absolutely love what they do and what they stand for. A lot of the time we bounce off one another and come up with fresh new ideas. When it comes to photo shoots and editorial campaigns we recognise talent and reach out to new faces we want to see representing SELFMADE. Two of our great friends are emerging photographers who we adore working with and their images are craaazy – Arman Jose Galang and Katie O’Neill.

For various collections we like to explore fine art and hand painting in our designs and have worked with artists Julia Nowotka and Tien Lee in this regard. Two incredibly talented ladies who have big things coming their way.

What are your creative backgrounds?

SELFMADE is co-owned by Tobi Balogun and Sinead Kelly.

Tobi is a self-taught designer who creates each and every SELFMADE clothing item by hand. A creative through and through, Tobi’s eye for detail is exceptional and his imagination is where his genius lies. A trained stylist who also dabbles in photography, Tobi is relentless in his pursuit of ensuring each of our products is finished to the highest quality. Along with creating new designs, his photography and styling are invaluable to the turnaround of product for the brand.

Sinead is creative director and stylist at SELFMADE. With an extensive fashion portfolio in styling combined with her business savvy having earned a Masters in Marketing, Sinead oversees product development, website management, marketing and social media along with photo shoot concepts and direction, styling and production. Sinead is an avid purveyor of all that is eclectic with a sharp eye for detail, a flair for colour and a love for creativity.

Furthermore, both Tobi and Sinead have a major background in the hip hop and urban dance scene in Ireland. In the past number of years street style has been heavily influenced from hip hop and street culture. This resonates so strongly with us given our long standing background in hip hop and dance. Essentially we are marrying our two main passions – style and hip hop – to bring something new to the style scene. Keeping it fresh!

What compelled you to enter the world of fashion?

SELFMADE as a brand came about quite organically. Together, we never consciously decided to ‘enter’ the fashion world as we already so strongly immersed in it through our day jobs.
We are always on the lookout for amazing, interesting and special pieces that we feel fit our own personal style. Yet if something is one-off or limited edition, it makes wearing the item feel more special.

With that being said, we would always find ourselves coming across vintage pieces that would really blow us away. Sinead dealt a lot with vintage over the past few years having worked in Folkster (formerly Shutterbug Vintage) and this really opened our eyes to the incredible detail, intrinsic craftsmanship and truly special qualities you only find with vintage items.

Needless to say we love stand out pieces with a point of difference that make people stop and really take a good look at.

With Tobi’s background in design, he thought ‘why not make it myself?’. He has an amazing understanding of garment construction that by reworking already once-off vintage pieces into something even more special, we could really offer something different, something unique that belongs only to you.

It seems you like to blend the world of art and fashion, is that something you actively try to maintain?

For us, SELFMADE is an endless pursuit in exploring the boundaries of our creativity. Honestly, we don’t believe such boundaries exist but the thrill of following our own visions and ideas and bringing them to life is so exciting. Combining unexpected textures, clashing colours, marrying old and new – whatever it may be we will certainly give it a go in order to create something unique. I suppose that is what art is?

This creativity is exuded in each and every one of our garments. We then extend this ensuring we deliver new messages, enticing imagery, exciting photo campaigns, in the hope of being just a small inspiration to even one person to embrace the magic of creativity that they have within them.

What’s next for SELFMADE?

At the moment we are currently working on our Autumn/Winter ’17 lines which is very exciting. Up to now we have been synonymous with making outerwear such as jackets and coats. For the new season we are exploring new product lines to include hoodies and basics, jeans and trousers along with some incredible jewellery and accessories. We can’t wait to show everyone!

selfmadeClick here to find out more about SELFMADE.