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Interview: TI on Style and His AKOO Clothing Line for Spring 2010

Last month we were treated to a viewing of AKOO spring 2010, the men's clothing line helmed by Atlanta's very own superstar Clifford "Tip" Harris. AKOO stands for "A King of Oneself," and although there are no regal references in the collection this time around, there are plenty of nods to the good life as all of the hardworking street fashions—selvage denim and flannels—have upper crust flourishes. We spoke to TI about the new collection, and what it means to be a stylish gent. Check out the Q&A after the jump, plus more images of the new collection.


How would you describe your style, and what do you think makes a well-dressed man?
Style is more than just how you dress, it's about your whole outlook on life and how you live it. A well-dressed man knows how to dress and carry himself whatever the occasion calls for, whether it's for a funeral, black tie affair, or just a trip to the corner store. A well-dressed man is a leader among men, and always comes correct.

What kind of pieces are always in your closet, and what are your favorite pieces in the line?
I probably shouldn't answer this one, it's pretty personal. From our spring/summer collection, the Dynasty denim jacket is in the closet definitely. We made this jacket that’s sort of a modern play on the windbreaker, the Craftsman jacket, and it's plain on the front with a screen print on the inside back of the jacket. And I’m usually rocking one of our tees or buttondowns (Big Shots or Merciless) and our selvage denim is crack! They set aside multiple pairs of the Bait and Reynard denim in the crib.

I notice there are a lot of military influences, is that a personal favorite of yours?
I definitely think that military-inspired gear is fresh just as long as it's not overdone. AKOO's gear stays pretty subtle and pays attention to detail. Our brand’s inspirations draw from the outdoors to nautical to aeronautics, which are all components of military. Our tag lines reflect this sort of culture with slogans including “Always Hunted” or “Trust Nothing With Teeth.”

Streetwear has completely changed over the last ten years, where do you see AKOO in this landscape?
AKOO has its place without having its place. Lines are finally being blurred in streetwear and the younger generation. We are going to do what we do and put out high quality clothing that we think is fresh, and we're going to make it affordable. We have a philosophy about AKOO, but we're not going to jam it down people's throats. The kings are out there and they know how to dress, and they will help us define AKOO’s legacy in the street fashion landscape from season to season.

Would you say the line is influenced by hip-hop heritage?
Great musicians influenced me as an artist, so naturally they have influenced my creativity as a designer. Everything that I have experienced in my life has fueled my qualities as a creative person. The world of fashion and the world of music intersect and share many of the same qualities. As people, we use them both. Sometimes you listen to a depressing track or dress down and dark when your feeling depressed. Sometimes we bang flashy tracks and dress to the nines when we're excited or feeling good. Music and Fashion are tools we use to express ourselves, and they feed and complement off of each other tremendously.

How much have you learned about the nuts and bolts of putting together a line since you launched AKOO?
I've tried to be part of every detail as much as I possibly can along the way, from fabrication through to certain elements of design. I pay attention to the materials that make the clothing right down to the conditions of the places for the employees who manufacture it. I've had some other areas of my life to focus on as well over the last few years that consumed a lot of my time, but those experiences helped me develop as a person, both emotionally and professionally. I've always had a vision for my own line, but I wanted to do it right, and really be able to inject my creativity and persona into it, and right now it feels right.

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TI
Interview: TI on Style and His AKOO Clothing Line for Spring 2010