Zuleha Interview + Mix

 “Bad bitch. Entrepreneur.” This is how Zuu introduced herself and it couldn’t be more true. We were honoured to sit down with the hottest sexiest most talented designer we’ve ever met, talking fashion, collaboration and her brand Oyin. She talks loads tho! People have had full pregnancies in the time it’s taken to cut this interview down. But here we are, a year and a sold out Oyin X Baddest collaboration later talking talking and talking :)

(Scroll to the end for her mix!)

Cece: Zuuuu! We'll start with some random questions to ease the mood. What does your name mean?
Zuleha: It means beautiful
C: Say less. What’s 1 irrational fear you have?
Z: In old age having regrets on how I played out my life. Whether it's not starting something earlier or what if I wasted my time?
C: Oo! That's a pretty rational fear though I think.
Z: OK. Actually, one of them used to be getting too close to the train tracks, as a kid I was scared I'd fall in and wouldn’t be able to get back up in time before the train comes.
C: Haha That's also pretty rational. Tell me a crazy global prediction.
Z:I reckon they're gonna try and get rid of cash money. It's gonna happen, I would say within the next 10 years.

C:OK, Cool. Do you want to talk about fashion, skating or music first?
Z:Go fashion.

C:What's been your journey in fashion so far?
Z:It’s been a long one, it's something that's always interested me. When I left secondary school for uni, they showed us those forms that they make you write when you start school, talking about what you want to be when you grow up. You’re 11 when you do it, they showed it to me when I was leaving and mine said ‘When I grow up I wanna be a fashion designer’ and that’s kind of jokes cos I didn’t realise I'd wanted to do it from that far back.
C:Haha thats sweet, keep it coming,
Z:I’m interested in art so basically all through school I did textile fashion and so I went on quite a traditional route.
C:Yeah, yeah.
Z:I did everything I could to go to fashion uni and then went to fashion uni haha, but sometimes I regret not doing an apprenticeship instead. I don’t know if going to uni was fully worth it, I didn't necessarily learn any more skills. I learned a bit more just about the ethos of designing but in a textbook way. When I interned, I think that's when I started to really be able to understand what's involved in fashion. It was good because even now I use loads of those skills I learned from that and it generally helped me in just understanding a bit more about ‘how does a collection grow’ like ‘what do designers actually have to do?’. What they teach you in university is so crazy different to what it is in the real world.
Z:Yeah, It’s much simpler. Once you leave uni, you then have to build it back down to the core essence of what the hell it is, as opposed to the kind of highbrow interpretation University have tried to make it into.
C:Ohh, And after uni/interning?
Z:I was just flipping around, doing retail a lot. Then I got into my job as a size and fit specialist, it’s a pretty numerical/technical  job but it's kind of cool because I see all different types of stock, loads of different brands from steetwear to tailoring
C:Is that inspiring to see?
Z:Ohh yeah for sure, I have so many photos on my phone of different details I like. I keep them and try to figure out how I put something I like into my own stuff.
C:Cool, Yeah.
Z:I think it kind of keeps me within the fashion route, even though it's not my long-term career, it still keeps me within the realm, so I'm always up to date in terms of trends and knowing kind of a little bit more ahead of time what is going to be big [Zuu has since lost this job because the fraser group are b*stards! If you're looking for a fashion hire look no further - she’s hardworking, talented, and very very sexy!!]
C:Yeah. Is trends and what's coming next something that influences what you make?
Z:yay and nay because trends are always recycling. Looking at my mum's generation's style and influences, the way that I'm dressing now is the same as how she was dressing when she was this age. It's just a cycle. It's annoying though cos now I look back on all those cool boots that she used to have in the 2000s, but she gave all those things away to charity or they’re somewhere in Kent festering away >:( !!!! You know, it goes around, just because it might have fallen out of trend doesn't mean it's gonna be out of trend forever.
C:What's 1 trend that you want to see come back?
Z:Hmm. I don't even know. They've all come back.

C: Haha, ok so yeah, tell us about your brand ‘OYIN’ . When did you start?
Z:So I started it in like 2019 unofficially, but officially…? I'd say 2020.
C: And how was the start like?
Z: The start was interesting. I didn't know what I was going to call the brand but eventually came up with the idea of OYIN,  it's my middle name. It means honey, but my name is Oyindamola, which means ‘honey mixed with wealth’, so it kind of felt like a sign.
C: Your names are really beautiful!
Z: :), After the name picking I just started it. At this point, I’d been skating for at least a year properly and my sense of style, how I dressed, even the fashion that I was interested in making had changed drastically from when I’d been at uni.
There's a bit of time that I was just kind of floating around in the world, just kind of remembering who I am outside of education. I had a plan, a dream. I wanted to be in my first design job by 21, but the reality of it isn't as clear cut as I thought it would be. So in 2019 I started to think of what my aesthetic was, what I wanted to create. The first thing I wanted to make was a T-shirt. I was li…

[Big pause to watch the police trying (and failing) to arrest a sexy someone opposite the shop]

C:Damn, What were we saying?
Z:Ooo.. 2019 … started… T-shirts. Oh yeah ..  I just started playing around with graphics really and developed from there. 2020, went into the pandemic. Lockdowns, furlough, very fun times because essentially I was paid to just work on my own brand which I pretty much did.

C:What Inspires you to create?
Z:I don't know, just living life really. It'll be weird like I could be having a conversation with my sister and then she says ‘Ohh help me find an outfit’. So we'll just chat ‘what about this? What about that?’ And then I’d think, oh that looks so good but imagine if I made it. I'm inspired to make things for experiences and memories I guess.  Going to parties, for me, dressing up is the best bit. I always saw my mum get so into her outfit planning so clothes and make up are a big part of my personality, and being able to express that is cool. If I can make clothes that kind of inherently edge towards what my own narrative is and what I enjoy, that's kind of part of the goal really.

C:What are the two things that you're proud of with OYIN?
Z:Starting it firstly, because I'm very much a perfectionist. With this journey you can plan as much as you want but planning it means nothing in the grand scheme of it. Something will change or something alters the path from which you're going on, so for me starting has honestly been the biggest achievement.
The second thing would be working with all the people I know. That's been one of the most fun things to do, and also that gets me more excited for the future. That's something that just hits when your collaboration creates something epic.

C:Is collaboration important for you?
Z:100%, the saying is "someone who will not ask will suffer in silence". It makes so much more sense. Like you can't do everything perfectly, someone is going to have a better grasp on certain things, so why not just work and put your two knowledges together and make something that's even sicker and more than what you could have ever done if you tried to do it yourself? And also, everyone can eat. It shouldn't just be like ‘I rise to the top by myself and pull the ladder up behind me’.
Z:Because that's dead as well.
Z:That's kind of the creative climate that we're in in fashion but collaborating is how it should be.
C:Oh really? What change would you like to see In the fashion industry?
Z:I just think it should be a place where new people can come, and also flourish because of talent. It shouldn't just be a place where only the top 5% can sit in. The reason why we have all these big brands that are big to this day is because they were given the room (and cash dollar) to be able to enter the market and grow and provide the things that they wanted to provide. Half of the issue now is that we can't get things made as cheaply or as freely. It's not accommodating for small brands and designers. Brands that popped up in the 80s and 90s are now here celebrating big anniversaries, but there's brands that have tried to start up in the past 20 years that haven't even been able to make it to their 10th. And it's not because of lack of want or trying, it's just everything is messed up.

C:If you could design for one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Z:Oh God. One?
Z:Close collaboration partnership with… that's … hm OK, maybe I'd say maybe Tyler the creator. Something good for him that would be fun. Random but fun as hell.
C:OK. You become a dictator…
Z:OK, cool.
C:But you're a nice one. What is 1 fashion rule that everyone would have to follow?
Z:OK, so you're limited to a singular colour palette. I’ll actually have a colour palette book and you have to choose from that allotted thing, and you can't deviate around. Because some people match the nastiest colours together. Like I get colour clashing. but there's levels to it innit

C:What is the worst outfit you ever wore but you thought was a flex?
Z: It was during like 2011. So indie was still a thing and very much alive. I used to always wear button up shirts like Noel Edmondson, floral shirts similar to wallpaper. It was that style shirt and basically I had this denim circle skirt that I wore when I went on an Italian exchange trip secretly as my mum said it was not a lewk. I took photos thinking I ate that day…I really didn’t, Mum was right. [Zuu politely declined to share the picture - but picture it]

C:Ok let's talk music, what do you listen to when you skate?
Z:All of it really, to be fair, my music taste is everywhere. It can be Memphis rap like Project Pat, that's my favourite at the moment, or Bloc Party, or I might throw it back to some Maxwell or Sexy Red. Like I'm literally listening to all random stuff, just whatever feels good - and it depends on what type of energy I want my line I'm doing to be like.
C:Do you always skate with music?
Z:Always. Yeah. I don't wanna hear what I sound like when I scream or when I fall!
C:Hahah.OK, who are your top artists?
Z:So we'll put Tyler the Creator. Larry June. We'll put Alicia Keys. Luther Vandross. Outkast
C:OK that's solid. You can pick one artist, you get that whole discography, but that's the only thing you can listen to from now on.
Z:Yeah Outkast in both entities, Andre and also Big Boi. Their whole discographies, features included. Wait… I dunno, I don't think I wanna listen for the rest of my life. But I'm just thinking like variety.
C:Yeah. Yeah.
Z:Or Rihanna …
Z:maybe Michael Jackson?
C:…I’m not even going to make a comment on that.
Z:Wait I beg I lock in one of the other two. Otherwise, let’s come back to, actually, wait sorry. Usher! Usher. He's got the slow tunes and party tunes
C:Hahah ok. So you're getting into new hobbies like DJing,
C:How are you practicing it?
Z:When I have the time. I’m trying to practice but also I'm trying to figure out what my style is like. Yeah, same as skating, it’s the same kind of discovery period. I'll try everything, but I'm trying to figure out what it is that actually gets me going.

C:Nice. Let’s finish up. Do you feel pressure?
Z:Every day. Yeah… I feel pressure. I feel pressure for myself but it's more from me than It is from anyone else like.
C:How do you handle the pressure you put on yourself?
Z:I don't. I've pulled myself out of my hole today hahaha just kidding. No, I just, I don't know, calm myself, calm my brain and kind of piece it down into more manageable bite size steps.

C:Yeah. Do you have a philosophy that you live by?
Z:Bleep bitches get money.
C:Seriously haha, something you live by
Z:I suppose my philosophy or how I look at life is… Yolo. You only live once
C:So profound.
Z:Haha seriously though the fact that like, what if I die tomorrow? I would like to feel that when I look back at my life I could say that although it was short, I gave it a good go.
C:Ass or Tits
Z: Ass

C: OK, I think that's it. Unless there's anything else you'd like to say.
Z:CC for president Daphne for also president.
C: Yeah.
Z:Actually a coalition that would be Best. I love my mum, my sister. I love you Kiko & Emmy (her cats). Also free all those living within conflict torn areas forever and always.

Under our coalition Zuu will be head of Department of Fashion, till then she’s running things at Oyin, keep your eyes peeled for new pieces coming soon :) love you Zuu <3